At the time, Rouse-Jones was living at home and her father,
seeing his daughter unemployed, advised her to go wherever
the Ministry of Education had a vacancy. Rouse-Jones, who
lived in Belmont, took his advice, surprising him when she
took up a post at the Palo Seco Government Secondary School.
She stayed there for one year, teaching music culled from
her experiences in the University choir and introducing
her young charges to life in Port-of-Spain. To this day,
said Rouse-Jones, many of those students hold reunions at
After a year, Rouse-Jones applied for a transfer and was
refused. So, on hearing from a student at Cave Hill, Barbados,
that the Johns Hopkins University in the United States was
giving scholarships, she applied for and received one to
read for a doctorate in History.
I said, What? I dont like History.
I never studied history and I didnt even want to do
a PhD, she recalled.
Following her graduation, Rouse-Jones lectured briefly
in the Department of History at Cave Hill, then migrated
to England with her husband, Rupert Jones.
Every door in History was shut to me. Then all of
a sudden I decided I wanted to be a librarian. I told my
father I wanted to study librarianship and I went to library
school. Within a week after getting my diploma, UWI cabled
me a job in Trinidad, she said.
Rouse-Jones said that because of her History background,
she was appointed head of the West Indiana section, a portion
of the library dedicated to material of West Indian origin.
She spent a lot of her career building the special collections,
which includes the Eric Williams Memorial Collection.
In 1989, on the anniversary of Eric Williams
death, the Head Librarian called a meeting to announce her
retirement. She told me the library was getting Eric Williams
papers and deposits and she wanted me to work on them. I
said clearly God has a plan, said Rouse-Jones of the
synergy between her History and Library studies.
You have to live long enough to see how what you
thought was a negative turns out to be a positive,
she said in retrospect.
The 59-year-old said she felt honoured to work on the
Eric Williams collection and that the permanent exhibition
was a result of one of her first decisions when she was
appointed head of the library.
Among Rouse-Jones other accomplishments is the creation
of a guide entitled, Guide to Manuscripts, Special Collections
and Other Research Resources for Caribbean Studies.
Compiled by Rouse -Jones during a year of special sabbatical
leave, the much-needed guide gives users details on the
materials contained in the West Indiana division.
Last year, the guide brought Rouse-Jones some acclaim
when she won an award for Excellence in Research and Publications
in the Information Field in the Caribbean from the Association
of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries.
Soft-spoken with a very sophisticated demeanour, Rouse-Jones
has a very impressive 17-page resumé that details
the numerous papers, articles and book reviews she has written,
the international conferences at which she has presented,
the distinguished academic meetings to which she has been
invited to give presentations, the funding she has attracted
for research and study and the over 20 professional development
courses she has attended during her career.
Yet her life is not as cushy as observers might believe.
At home, Rouse-Jones has to cope with the demands of a disabled
At seven months she got meningitis. It was such
a terrible thing. She is severely disabled. She does not
walk, talk, does not see normally, explained Rouse-Jones.
Although doctors told Rouse-Jones and her husband that
their daughter would live to the age of five, shes
still persevering at the age of 26.
The challenge of dealing with the tragedy and taking care
of their daughter, said Rouse-Jones, has pushed them closer
It was that faith, the support of her husband and her
parents, now deceased, that enabled Rouse-Jones to not get
bogged down in bitter feelings. With a helper that visits
six days a week, Rouse-Jones is still able lead a fulfilling
As if to compensate for the loss of a normally-functioning
child in the home, fate has, over the years, brought other
people into Rouse-Jones life, people who today consider
her their mother.
We have accepted a lot of young people in our lives,
she said, referencing a daughter of a deceased friend, whom
she unofficially adopted and a Sierra Leonese student, whom
she considers a son.
With retirement looming at 65, Rouse-Jones has no intentions
of slowing down. She plans to write a book on George James
Christian, a Dominican man who became a prominent lawyer
on the Gold Coast and to publish a guide to Eric Williams
Looking back, Rouse-Jones, who was the first chairman
of NALIS, is satisfied with her contribution to UWI. Ive
brought the library to a good position, where it is highly
respected and could compare favourably to libraries on other
campuses throughout the world, she said.