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History

Institute of International Relations

The Institute of International Relations of the University of the West Indies (UWI), on the St Augustine Campus, though headquartered in Trinidad, has a regional character boasting of prestigious alumni throughout the Caribbean Diaspora.

Established in October 1966 by an agreement between the Governments of Trinidad and Tobago and Switzerland, the Institute's programmes were a collaborative effort between the UWI and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva and continued over a six-year period up until 1972. After 1972, the Institute adopted a new constitution and now operates as an autonomous and independent academic institution, within the framework of UWI.

 

Institute of International Relations, The Library

We are all familiar with the term “boutique” as it applies to the hotel industry and the connotation that it implies: welcoming, warm interior, exceptional location, and personalized service to name the key characteristics. Within recent years, we are seeing the application of the “boutique” concept to another customer-oriented service sector, the Library and information sector. In their 2010 article Boutique libraries at your service, Andy Priestner and Elizabeth Tilley [1]contend that: “The boutique library service benefits from being distinct and separate enough from other parts of the model to allow autonomous service development, but sufficiently integrated into the whole to provide a coherent environment.”

Situated on the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies where the programmes of the Institute are conducted, the Library at the Institute of International Relations aptly encompasses this approach. The Library provides a warm welcoming ambience and projects excellence in the delivery of its services, offering specialized library services to its core clientele and centralized services as part of the St. Augustine Campus Libraries network.

When the Institute was established in 1966, a special grant of US $4000 was made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to establish the Library; this was also accompanied by a gift of UN documents. The Government of Switzerland also provided an initial contribution of 20,000 Swiss francs.   Today, the Library has a specialized collection of over 26,000 monographs, 240 journal titles, 100+ e-journal titles, access to databases related to the study of international relations and global studies, and a burgeoning DVD collection.  The Library is also home to the collections of books and papers of the late Dr. Roy Prieswerk, former Director of the Institute and Dr. Herb Addo, a former Reader.

As a postgraduate library in the St Augustine Campus Libraries network, it supports research and curriculum development with an international focus and a regional character. It houses a comprehensive collection of information resources on the international relations of the Caribbean, while also reflecting an interest in Latin American affairs. The Library is an integral part of the infrastructure of the Institute not only for its teaching and research but for the specialized services that it offers to Students, Staff, Alumni, Fellows and visiting researchers.

Within the realm of centralized services, the Library has gone on stream with the Integrated Library system, ALEPH, acquired by the Alma Jordan Library for the St. Augustine Campus Libraries, offers access to online journals, databases and e-resources via the St. Augustine Campus Libraries portal and engages in a high level of cooperation and collaboration as part of the St. Augustine Campus Libraries network.

Today, at 50 years old, the IIR Library continues to respond to the demands of the IIR curriculum, the changing international climate and the growing IIR base, serving not only the postgraduate IR scholar but also the undergraduate student, the Campus community, the diplomatic community, the nation, the region and an international network of Alumni. The Staff at the IIR Library remains committed to a high level of service, adopting sterling information service as their motto. Despite the pressures of changing climates, budget pinches and a dynamic subject focus, the Library continues to capture an endearing quality that always makes patrons ‘feel at home’.

 

The Institute’s Library was renamed the Norman Girvan Library on June 21st, 2016 to posthumously honour the late Jamaican Professor, Norman Girvan, Professor Emeritus and Professorial Research Fellow of the Institute.

 

[1] Andy Priestner and Elizabeth Tilley (2010), “Boutique libraries at your service,” Library and Information Update, available at http://personalisedlibraries.files.wordpress.com/ 2011/01/boutiquelibraries.pdf.

 

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