The Audio-Visual Centre is located on the third floor of the library. This floor houses the Humanities & Education Division, and the Humanities Librarian is in overall charge of the centre, supported by a library assistant, an attendant and, on a part-time basis, an operator attached to the library's maintenance unit.
The collection covers a wide range of presentations and subject matter on most of the disciplines taught at the university and includes:
1. sound discs (gramophone records) covering presentations of calypsos, steel band music, drama, spoken poetry, folk music and European classical music,
3. sound tape reels,
6. micro-photographic slides, and 7 compact discs.
The majority of the materials are acquired through legal deposit, staff and students' av projects, gifts and exchanges. Materials coming out of the library's Oral and Pictorial Records Programme are also housed at the centre. A catalogue of the collection is available in the Humanities Division. Materials are as yet not for loan.
The centre seats 80 persons at a time and is quite heavily used when university is in session, for both instruction and entertainment. The uses to which the centre is put include:
1. Lecture/film sessions on themes in English and West Indian drama.
2. Library instruction (video sessions).
3. Film/video shows on topics of historical and current interest.
4. Tape-slide presentations for Creative Art courses.
5. Video presentations on the compilation and use of special abstracts and indexes.
6. Video training kits on automation, e.g. Virginia Technical Library Service (VTLS) video kit on all aspects of library automation.
7. Film documentaries by clubs and societies of the Guild of Studies.
8. Interviews for the Oral and Pictorial Records Programme (OPReP). One of the objectives of OPReP is to gather historical data through interviews with people who have created or witnessed history.
9. Music at Noon series. This was a monthly lunch-time programme at which leading artists in the national community were invited to play and discuss their music in front of a select audience.
The expansion of the university in the early 1960s involved the establishment of a College of Arts and Science at St. Augustine in 1963. In 1964 the college was organized into the following divisions: Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics while a Faculty of General Studies was set up to take care of the degree programme in all three campuses: this Faculty of General Studies existed in tandem with the Faculty of Arts already located on the Mona Campus, Jamaica.
On 8 February 1965 the then Vice-Dean of the College of Arts and Science, Dr. R W Thompson, informed the St. Augustine community that the college was in the process of establishing a centre for audiovisual aids as an adjunct to the courses taught. Audiovisual equipment and material would be made available to academic staff only, and a catalogue of the equipment and material owned by the college would be circulated.
One of the main features of the centre was to be a record library to be established in Room 5 of the Agriculture Building.
Provision was to be made for students to listen to records in this room. Mr. H E Beissel, then Lecturer in English, was assigned to undertake the organization of the new centre.
By the middle of March 1965, the Centre for Audio-Visual Aids (CAVA) had gone into full operation in Room 5 of the College of Arts and Science Annex. All equipment had been registered and the various av materials catalogued.
The foundation collection, given the circumstances of those times, was fairly impressive. It was composed in the main of gramophone records, filmstrips and slides. The gramophone records were limited in their coverage to the works of Shakespeare, Eliot, Thomas, Dickens, Auden, Belloc, Browning, Coleridge, Keats, Mansfield, Pope, Shelley, Tennyson and Wordsworth, and 40 lessons in conversational Spanish. The filmstrips were mostly limited to geographical themes and the slides covered themes in architecture, geography, painting, engraving and book illustration.
The equipment comprised a Victor 16 mm sound film projector, two National portable record players with radio, a Victor sound-view slide and strip projector, an Akai tape recorder and a Garrard stereo record player with two microphones.
A permanent clerical assistant was appointed to look after the day-to-day routine of the centre. Borrowing rights were restricted to members of the academic staff and the loan period was 1 week. A fine of 10 cents and 25 cents per day was levied respectively for overdue material and equipment.
By the end of 1965 some of the equipment started to malfunction, due mostly to improper use. A local firm, Investments & Agencies, was contracted to service all audiovisual equipment on an on-going basis and to train one of the messengers at the college as operator. CAVA then imposed severe restrictions on the borrowing of av equipment.
Almost 2 years after its founding, CAVA started to generate social events for the entertainment of the university community. The first took place on Thursday, 19 January 1967, with the showing of the film 'India, haunting passage', a film that portrayed a series of dances from the great classic The Ramayana. From then on monthly film nights became a regular feature. CAVA continued on a smooth course until the dawn of the controversies of
In the 1960s many universities benefited from the construction and equipping of superbly designed libraries. The campus at St. Augustine was no exception. In 1967 a new library was planned for the campus.
The plan for the new library building included an area for audiovisual facilities. Originally only a music listening room with two mobile stereo sets was provided for casual use in the context of extra facilities for the liberal education of the undergraduate. However, CAVA's achievement underlined the desirability of more comprehensive facilities, and the then Librarian therefore deemed it necessary to expand the original provision in the library to accommodate a fully fledged centre. An area of 800 square feet on the third floor was set aside for this purpose.
This move, however, did not go uncontested. The simple solution of transferring CA VA's resources to the new facility was overlooked and it was argued by some that to create an audiovisual centre in the library not only would mean unnecessary duplication but also would make it difficult for CAVA to carry out all its functions, especially as a teaching unit.
In countering this view the Librarian indicated that the proposal to locate the audiovisual centre at the library was not meant to duplicate facilities on the campus but rather to centralize them in a building which already served all departments. It was further made clear that it was part of the trend of the time towards integrating the library and the instruction programme.
In November 1967, the university's Vice- Chancellor set up an advisory committee on the establishment of a language laboratory and audiovisual centre and asked it to advise on:
(a) the siting of the Language Laboratory (including the Audio-Visual Centre), both temporarily and permanently;
(b) the short-term requirements in order to run the laboratory and maintain the equipment;
(c) proposals for the long-term running and maintenance of the Laboratory, specifically estimates of cost, both capital and recurrent, for inclusion in the 1969/72 triennial estimates;
(d) any other matters which you consider relevant.
The membership of this committee was drawn from a broad spectrum of the campus's academic and professional staff. It reported in May 1968 but remained silent on the important issue of siting the av centre in the new library - although it was largely known that it favoured the idea of separating the language laboratory from the av centre.
When the library moved into its new premises in October 1969, the issue was far from settled. In the early years of the 1970s it receded into the background while the library coped with the major organizational problems attendant on the move to a new and fairly large four-storey building.
By 1979 it had become evident that the library was determined to establish its own av centre. In that year guidelines on the establishment of an av centre were submitted by Mr. Jack Ward, then Chief Librarian at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, in Australia, where a successful av centre had been in operation. These guidelines were submitted for the consideration of the new subcommittee on the proposed central campus Audio-Visual Aids Centre.
Meeting in November of 1981, the subcommittee decided that:
1. on a short-term basis the library would act as a coordinating centre for information on the availability of audiovisual aids;
2. on a long-term basis it was deemed desirable to have an audiovisual centre located in one building which would include the functions of:
(a) storage, servicing and security of audiovisual equipment,
(b) production of av material,
(c) specialized teaching,
(d) general teaching, and
(e) provision for typing and printing camera-ready copies of manuscripts.
This represented a substantial departure from CAVA's view that each teaching unit should have its own av centre. Also in November 1981, the subcommittee produced a computer print-out of all av equipment held by the various departments. A total of 344 items were located, with the library accounting for only 10.
In 1982 the library was finally designated as the site for the av centre. All existing av resources were transferred to it and teaching departments were asked to list their av requirements for long-term assessment.
On the whole, in its short span as a unit in the library, the centre has become an indispensable arm of the university essentially because of the useful backup that it gives to instructional and research programmes. Its role as a place of relaxation and entertainment seems to have therapeutic value for staff and students alike.