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ON THURSDAY, 7 JUNE 2018, at the Closing Ceremony of ACURIL 2018, held at Crowne Plaza Santo Domingo Hotel, MONIQUE ALBERTS, president of the Dutch Caribbean Library Association, received the gavel of ACURIL's presidency from Kumaree Ramtahal. The message of acceptance is presented below.

Good evening fellow information professionals.

I don’t have to tell you that ACURIL is a wonderful organization that brings together information professionals from four different language groups in the Caribbean.

ACURIL is more than a library association. It is a family. We see each other once or twice a year or twice but it is a good feeling that you can always call upon a fellow Acurilean whenever you have a problem in your small little library or small little archive. Your colleague in Trinidad of Martinique of Aruba is only one email or WhatsApp message away and he or she will answer your question the same day sometimes within the hour.

Whenever there is a national disaster, be it an earthquake in Haiti or a hurricane in St Maarten or Puerto Rico the ACURIL family comes together to provide support for the affected institutions.

Because of this among many other things, I am very honored and proud to become the President of ACURIL this year.

As a Dutch Caribbean information professional, I belong to the smallest language group in ACURIL.

After all, the population of Surinam and the Dutch Caribbean islands together is less than 1 million people.

If you compare us with a country like Jamaica with 2 million inhabitants or Trinidad with 1.4 million people or even the Dominican Republic with more than 10 Million inhabitants we are a tiny tiny little mouse next so some very big elephants.

Thinking about ‘Dutch Caribbean’ things like “Cheese with hot sauce” or “ Calypso on wooden shoes” may come to mind, even the lovely beaches of Aruba, or Blue Curacao liquor or the story of the Dutch guy and the Frenchmen who divided St Maarten/ St Martin by taking a walk around the island.

However, for ACURIL it means something different, we as Dutch Caribbean librarians have always played an active role since its inception in 1969.

In 1980 Maritza Eustatia from Curaçao was the first Dutch Caribbean President of ACURIL followed by Alice van Romondt from Aruba in 1987; Blanca Hodge from St Maarten was President in the year 1992, and Astrid Britten from Aruba was President in 2006. And last but not least President Jane Smith hosted her amazing conference in Suriname in 2015. Unfortunately, Jane could not be here this year because of the economic situation in her country.

We Dutch Caribbeans graciously gave up our right to have the ACURIL conference sessions translated in Dutch but that does not stop us from conversing in Dutch, Caribbean English and our two creoles Papiamento and Sranan Tongo among each other in between conference sessions.

We are quite unique because we have books and articles and other documents these 5 languages and even more languages at our libraries and archives and we are used to switching from one language to the other whenever we provide services to our multilingual clientele.

The ACURIL 2019 conference which will be held in Aruba in the first week of June will be a real Dutch Caribbean conference. Apart from speakers from our own islands, the other Caribbean islands and the US we will also have presenters from the Netherlands.

The theme we have chosen for our conference is of utmost importance because we will cover the 17 Sustainable development Goals ( SDG’s ) which were adopted by the member states of the UN in 2015: Access and Opportunities for All: How can Libraries, Archives and Museums and other information institutions contribute to the Agenda 2030.

As some of you may know, IFLA was actively involved in the establishing of some of these SDG’s .

We as Caribbean information professionals can contribute to improve outcomes across the SDG’s by:

  • promoting universal literacy
  • closing gaps in access to information
  • advancing digital inclusion
  • serving as the heart of the research and academic community
  • preserving and providing access to the world’s culture and heritage.

At ACURIL 2019 we will analyze and verify how much progress has been made in the achievement of the SDG’s since their implementation in 2015 and how we as librarians and archivists can help realize these goals.

We will discuss questions such as:

Do we have to change our policies or services to be able to achieve better results ?

How can we better translate the SDG’s into actionable initiatives at our institutions ?

But our conference will be more than just talking, learning from each other and networking.

At the end of the conference we will have tangible and measurable policy recommendations for our own local governments on how to involve us as Information professionals in the achievement of the SDG’s in our ( islands) ?countries?

We often underestimate ourselves. We as information professionals play an important role in the social and cultural progress of our ( island ) nations.

I am looking forward to the next coming together of the Acurilean family… in Aruba,

The conference will be hosted by the Biblioteca Nacional Aruba. We will have fun, we will enjoy Aruban culture , maybe even visit the beaches. Most of all, we will celebrate our profession and contribute to the sustainable development of our countries!

Save the Dates: 2-6 June 2019, at Oranjestad, Aruba

Bon Bini to Aruba!


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