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Supporting diverse and dispersed library users of child development resources

By Kisha Sawyers, University of the West Indies | Oct 05, 2015

Students at work in the CCDC library
The mandate of the Caribbean Child Development Centre (CCDC) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus is to ensure the equity and protection of the region’s children. The CCDC partners with several organizations to realize children’s rights, and undertakes research and support programs in the areas of violence, children in state care, early childhood care, education and development, and HIV/AIDS.

From parents to practitioners
The CCDC library provides current materials and high-quality service to library users who need information on children and families. Unlike many academic libraries, we serve an extremely broad user population, including students at the primary, secondary and tertiary (including post-graduate) levels; teachers and researchers; the non-governmental organization (NGO) community; parents; practitioners; and the UWI online student community. 
Although I am the lone librarian at the CCDC, I am also part of a bigger team of researchers at CCDC and part of UWI’s network of librarians — in this capacity I assist in providing services to UWI students via the Question Point/Ask a Librarian Services. To successfully execute my job I require knowledge of web publishing platforms and  content management systems such as Drupal and WordPress, automated library systems, and online education and e-resources, as well as skills in research, database development and management, database searching, and digital and information literacy.

A dispersed service area
As part of the Consortium for Social Development and Research (CSDR) and the UWI Open Campus, the CCDC also supports programs offered by the UWI Open Campus and related institutions. The CSDR serves the research and training needs of specialized areas within the UWI Open Campus, which in turn was established to serve the countries of the English-Speaking Caribbean outside those with traditional campuses (Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados). Because of the dispersed nature of the service area — Commonwealth Caribbean countries — UWI Open Campus networking and training are primarily through websites, teleconferencing and virtual reference services.

CCDC library offerings
The CCDC library has established networks of early-childhood practitioners throughout the Caribbean: people working with HIV/AIDS in children, researchers on children’s issues, and health and family life education (HFLE) stakeholders. We publish a regular newsletter for these networks, informing them of programs and projects at CCDC. 
We have listservs and feedback forms on the HFLE and HIV Intervention websites, and users communicate with us via an email address on all our websites. We developed, update and disseminate information via the following websites and online resources.  This includes updating the existing web pages, facilitating all aspects of the web presence, and initiating enhancements based on user feedback.
Websites created and maintained by the CCDC library
The LRC manages and disseminates information via email, telephone, live chat, and other services. The website spreads awareness of our services and allows users to search electronic databases and access the library's collections, resources and services. We also make access available to other relevant online resources: OCLC WorldCat List and the Multimedia Library and our social media account.

This database is a comprehensive list of bibliographic references of papers in the library’s collection. This also includes the Violence Prevention Programmes (VPP) and the HIV Intervention Programs in Jamaica.
The VPP database includes public and private agencies that carry out violence prevention interventions in Jamaica. The 36 identified programs range from those that address conflict resolution among school-aged children, to those teaching parents and teachers to address behavioral problems, to others focused on the general population to try to remove the stigma of “informing” on wrongdoing. For each program, the database includes theoretical or philosophical orientation, the types of violence addressed, the operational scope, and details of the program planning, implementation and outcomes.  
This database documents HIV prevention and intervention programs for children (up to 18 years old) in Jamaica, identifies programming trends and tendencies in terms of the target population, describes the HIV-related services provided, and lists program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. The programs identified were mainly carried out by NGOs, primarily in Kingston and St. Andrew.

The CCDC website serves as a portal for various databases, forums and social networking sites. Its aim is to provide user-friendly access for students and teachers to knowledge and teaching materials. This website is a shared space that drives research, educational material, entertainment and social activities.  Online services are an important focus, with a large collection of library databases (electronic journals and electronic books) and Ask the Library e-reference services.
The CaribECD website shares information, knowledge and resources relating to the status and development of young children in the Caribbean. With the support of UNESCO, the CCDC is helping to strengthen the region’s ECD network via the website’s e-forum and links.
The HFLE website aims to strengthen the delivery of comprehensive health and family life education by supporting professional development of HFLE teachers in the Caribbean. It features teaching and learning resources, and documents good practices in effective HFLE delivery — initially in four Caribbean countries: Jamaica, Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada. An online survey of HFLE stakeholders was instrumental in developing this website.
Collaboration partners
The CCDC also operates as a collaborative center and a mechanism for networking. Collaborations exist through partnerships in research, teaching, training and curriculum development, and outreach. Library partners in recent activities include:
The CCDC shares current papers on children and the family on behalf of the countries in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Global Partnership for Education: The CCDC was a co-sponsor for the Reading Changed My Life competition.
CCDC also hosts the secretariat of the Global Child Development Group (GCDG).
The GCDG uses scientific evidence to promote optimal child development, with a focus on children under age five in low-income and middle-income countries. This includes a combination of programs and policies aimed at improving the nutrition, health, cognitive and psychosocial development, education and social protection of young children. It also provides an opportunity for researchers from several countries, including Bangladesh, India, Jamaica, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Turkey, to share their research and, together with representatives of international agencies, formulate recommendations for programs and policies to promote optimal early child development.

Providing online information is especially important for institutions like ours that provide services to a broad user group in a dispersed geographic region. With information and ideas flowing in both directions — from the library to the user and from the user to the library — library services have the ability to evolve and improve on a constant and rapid basis.