The library was established at the inception of the St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College in 1897. Although the library has been relocated and renamed, it goes back many years. All of the Sisters who served in the college wished for a library and started book collections for their own classes. Eventually these collections were gathered together and housed in the hall. At the time of the 1951 hurricane many of the books were destroyed. There was no definite system of cataloguing and classification at that time. Prior to that, three different persons had each started a different system. After the clean-up operations, persons started to catalogue and classify what was left. Being familiar with the Dewey Decimal Classification scheme, Chinese Senator, Madame Hoo helped until she was called to the United Nation. The library remained in the hall until 1958 when the building on Tom Redcam Avenue was erected.
One of the rooms in that building was set aside for the library. About the same time The Jamaica Library Service Headquarters was built just across the street. From the very beginning, the librarians were most helpful and came over several times to help with practical advice as well as in giving talks to the students on the School Library Bookmobile service. At that time there were twenty four places for students in the library, enough for half of the class. The student body increased and although much effort was made to try and keep up in increasing book stock, the library was hampered because of insufficient space. After the Ministry of Education provided a grant, book stock increased more rapidly causing the library to also occupy an adjoining classroom which housed the Children’s section which could only be used for library purposes when no classes were being held. Even with access to that room, there was not enough space for the entire class to go to the library at one time. In order to keep up-to-date with routine tasks, the substitute librarian had to train a group of students who would help with the technical tasks. These students became publicity agents and resource persons as they handled the books in cataloguing or shelving which helped them to know the stock and where to find information. However, there was still the need for a bigger library.
When the old Villa chapel was dismantled, the statue of St. Joseph was given to the “new library”. The statue was placed behind the issue desk on top of the filing cabinet and after a few months planning began for a new library. The “new library” was designed and constructed by Mr. David Senior of the Ministry of Education and the Vaccino Brothers in October 1965. Two experts were also consulted for assistance in setting up the new library namely, the librarian of the Scientific Research Council and the Director of the Jamaica Library Service at that time. The floor space at that time was 36ft by 54ft and included a small office for the librarian, a work room with a built in work bench, a small sink and a small visual aide centre. The clerestory style windows on the four sides provided unbroken wall space for shelves. Wide doors flanked by louvers allow for ventilation. The issue desk and shelving was cedar. Additional light and air was provided by a raised portion of the portion of the roof which has 2ft glass louvers. A bulletin board and peg board add display features. There was space to accommodate seventy two students at that time.
Formerly, the book stock was over 8100 volumes. Part of that included children’s books which were used for Children’s Literature classes and storytelling but also served as a useful purpose for practical teaching. One alcove at the far end was the reference section which carries adult encyclopedias, various handbooks, yearbooks, a West Indian section, and other reference books. This section was hardly ever empty at that time. There was also a vertical file of newspaper clippings; pictures, and local materials on Social Studies. The periodical section was gradually building up while other sections needed to be expanded to meet the demands of the increase in students during that period. The book stock was fairly balanced at that time as far as the subject areas of the curriculum is concern. There was a concentration in Psychology which leans toward Educational Psychology and in education towards method in primary schools. Donations also added to the library stock. International companies such as the United States Information Service and other book companies would regularly donate books to the library years ago.
The present library was named after William Sheehan in 2002. Sheehan was the college Chaplain and Language Arts Tutor at one point. The library is located on the second floor of the Sr. Avril Chin Fatt Building of the institution. The attendant areas include the Reserved Book Collection (RBC), General Circulation, Photocopying and Printing Room, Research Room, General Reading Room, Computer Room, and a Display area. The library’s collection is special as it supports the curriculum with emphasis on Early childhood and Primary Education. It houses over 6,000 books, periodical titles, a newspaper collection and a selection of audio visual materials with a current seating capacity of seventy (70) persons between the two reading rooms.
The services of the library is continuously being expanded and upgraded in order to meet the curriculum needs of students and faculty.