Enid M. Baa Public Library
(340) 774-0630 Address: #20 Dronningens Gade, St. Thomas VI 00802

                 
                       
Library service in the Virgin Islands began in 1920 with the opening of the St. Thomas Public Library in rented quarters, using packing crates for shelves, wooden boxes and other odd pieces for furniture. A cooperative effort of the Junior Red Cross and the American Library Association with assistance from the U. S. Navy made the dream of a St. Thomas public library a reality. The first library director was Adeline Zachert, followed by Eleanor Gleason and Catherine Trimble. Libraries were quickly established on St. Croix at Christiansted and Fredericksted.

In 1929, the Carnegie Foundation granted $10,000 to extend library services in the islands and sent two trained continental Americans, Caroline L. Jones and Edith C. Moon to accomplish this task. Circulation increased 125 percent in St. Thomas, 150 percent in Frederiksted, and 340 percent in Christiansted. The Carnegie grants were renewed for two additional years. The libraries were referred to in Library Journal (15 Jan. 1943) as "modern in every respect...they follow the organizational pattern common in most American libraries."

The St. Thomas Library was moved in 1940 to the first and second floor of the former Lange Building. The building has also served as a Municipal Building and housed the Council of St. Thomas and St. John on the third floor. In 1943, the collection consisted of 20,000 volumes and the latest media was a Victrola for records and a silent 16mm projector. The "charge desk", locally made in 1935, was dedicated to Edna St. Vincent Millay, then in St. Thomas, to whom the first book was charged. That desk is still in use today. 
                         ENID M. BAA              
      

The Enid M. Baa Public Library & Archives is located on Dronningens Gade in the heart of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Baa Library is named for an outstanding Virgin Islander who was one of the first four high graduates in the territory in 1931. She participated in the establishment of the first high school library and received a scholarship to attend Howard University and later Hampton Institute. As a second year undergraduate student, Miss Baa was accepted at Hampton and graduated from their Library Science program in 1933. She was appointed the first head of the Department of Public Libraries and was the first woman to hold a cabinet level office in the Virgin Islands in 1933. Working to improve the library system, Ms. Baa expanded the size and services of the public libraries on all three islands.

In 1943, Ms. Baa returned to Columbia University to complete her undergraduate studies in English Literature and the Humanities. She worked in the Columbia University library as a preliminary cataloger. In 1949, Hampton Institute awarded her both her Bachelor's and Master's in library science based on her earlier completion of their program.

In 1954, Ms. Baa was again appointed Director of Libraries and Museums and brought with her a wealth of experience in cataloguing and reference work. She had also previously served as the Head of Serial Cataloging at the United Nations Library, and had specialized in cataloging Spanish and Portuguese materials. She had special interests in Caribbean and Latin American bibliographies, genealogies, conservation and the preservation of Sephardic Jewish records.

Under her leadership, the public library became a community asset. She was instrumental in getting the Archives Law Act 880, calling for the care and preservation of public records passed in 1967. Ms. Baa worked on securing professional training for staff both on and off-island. She retired as Director of Libraries, Museums and Archives on March 30, 1974. The St. Thomas Public Library was renamed for her on March 30, 1978. Ms. Baa died on the island of St. Thomas July 25, 1992.