Personal Letter to David Stam, January 15, 2018.

Jakups is the Librarian of Duke University, a specialist in Latin American affairs, and an old friend. In early 2018 she served as a consultant at the Falkland Islands, when we had the following email exchange, about the book culture of the islands:

Dear David,

Good to hear from you! I will try to answer your questions though I might have to supply only partial answers.

In the week we were there, I did not see a bookstore in Port Stanley. They sell books in the big grocery store (I’m blanking on the name now) but they tend to be children’s books, pulp romance-type books, or popular fiction ( not much of a selection). I didn’t study it too closely. They also sell books in the souvenir shops (of which there are a few) and those are FI history, LOTS on the 1982 war, LOTS on penguins and other fauna and also flora of the Islands.

The only Library I could find is in the Rec Center/high school (I know, that’s odd!) – a combination community center (squash courts! and swimming pool, etc.) in which memberships are available attached to the high school – which only goes for two years (education runs from pre-school through age 16, roughly our sophomore year) after which kids either go into a trade or off to England to finish “college” and maybe (about 30%) on to University. Unfortunately the Library was closed when I visited that building so I never did get to nose around and see what the collection was like. I regret that — time ran out on me.

The literacy rate seems quite high, though I don’t know exactly (one source says 99%) but you have to keep in mind that there are different populations — those with “Status” or Permanent Residence Permits and those who come with work permits. There are many Chileans and individuals from St. Helena who tend to work in service. There are some Zimbabweans who first came as mine-clearers and stayed on. People are proud that there are “40 countries represented here,” but with a total population of 3000 and a somewhat subjective process for achieving “Status” you have to wonder. Didn’t see any poor people in the town. The GDP per capita is among the top 5 in the world thanks to the income they get from fishing (the 200-mile limit).

There are also the people in the “camp,” way out on farms and ranches. If there are enough children there will be a teacher sent (e.g., Goose Green) but otherwise the kids at about age 9 go to Stanley and stay at Stanley House, and attend school.

I couldn’t tell what people are reading but they are definitely online and social media. Facebook is very big as a way to communicate/connect. They order a lot of things online (3-4 month lead time for shipping!) so possibly they get books that way, or ebooks. I now know some people, including in the government, so I am happy to follow up and ask if you’ve got specific questions.

As for the Antarctic Survey, there is a wonderful museum (Dockyard Museum) that includes an exhibit and the actual hut from which some work was carried out in Antarctica — I think I may have a photo I can send you. I don’t know other than that if they are there but I bet so.

On Jan 15, 2018, at 11:58 AM, David H Stam wrote:

Dear Deborah: Thanks to you too for keeping in touch—wonderful to hear of your thriving family.

I have a few questions for you about books and libraries in the Malvines. I confess to envying your visit there. In the Navy I sailed past them, 60 years ago next month, sailing between the Weddell Sea and Buenos Aires. Here are my questions:

Is there a bookstore in Port Stanley? A public library system for the islands? Is there a need to send books around the archipelago? What is the literacy rate in either language? Does the BAS (British Antarctic Survey) maintain any presence there? They started out as FIDS, the Falkland Islands Dependency Survey, I think between the wars.

Did you get any sense of what people are reading?

PS, same date: My sense of the Falklands is that people are practical and not particularly “intellectual,” though many of our interviewees were plenty smart. They have no universities, and high school only until 16, and nearly all the teachers in the high school are on contract from the UK – so there is not a lot of “life of the mind,” I’d say. Quite a different place and I am glad I had the chance to go.