Saturday, August 14, 2010

Haiti update session at IFLA

Book shelves and walls collapsing, computers crashing to the floor - it was a moving film that the delegates at the Haiti update session viewed on Friday. The security cameras at the National Library in Haiti captured the impact that the earthquake had on the library earlier this year.
Ingrid Parent, President-elect of IFLA visited Haiti together with Ellen Tise, President of IFLA six weeks ago and spoke about how impressed they both were to see the Haitian dedication in rebuilding the destroyed buildings. During the visit, the IFLA President, representing ICBS, co-signed an agreement with the Haitian Government to support restoration and initiatives for temporary library services and improving of professional skills in Haiti.
The director of the National Library of Haiti, Françoise Thybulle and Elisabeth Pierre-Louis, Library Programme Director of FOKAL described the situation and showed pictures which said even more than words. Read more about their work and the challenges they are facing on . Dagens nyheter, one of the largest newspapers in Sweden interviewed Françoise and Elisabeth at IFLA:
One of the ongoing projects to help Haiti restore the libraries is called Ark and was presented by Danielle Mincio (IFLA) and Christophe Jacob (ICA).  The project’s main objective is to help treat the documents that have been damaged in the earthquake and to teach the Haitians how to do it themselves. Danielle encouraged everyone to join in, by volunteering or by helping to fund in whatever way possible.
The discussion that followed the presentations revealed many other ongoing projects and organizations that are committed to help our Haitian colleagues in different ways, from sending equipment to digitization of documents and internships for Haitian librarians.

Friday, August 13, 2010

T-Shirts for Haiti (at IFLA General Annual Congress)

The National Organizing committee for 2011 San Juan, Puerto Rico is selling T-shirts to benefit Haiti. All proceeds will go to be used to help Haitian libraries to rebuild and to purchase books and library furnishing.
Please stop by Booth C122
The price per T-shirt is: 150 SEK or 15 Euros


Rebuilding libraries is rebuilding the Haitian people

Everyone remembers the terrible earthquake of January 12th 2010 in Haiti. As a tribute to the Haïti Library community, IFLA express opens its columns to two representatives of the Haitian library community: Françoise Thybulle – Director of the National Library of Haïti and Elisabeth Pierre-Louis – Library Programme Director of FOKAL.
Both of them will participate in Friday’s session: 13 August 13:45 - 15:45 for an update session on Haïti.
The Haitian libraries landscape originally is a mix of different networks. Today, after the earthquake, Patrimonial libraries, University libraries, Private libraries and Association libraries coexist and try to work together.

The National Library of Haiti and the Patrimonial libraries

Of the 3 major patrimonial libraries, one has been totally destroyed, another one needs to be repaired, and the National Library (less touched than the others) is almost ready to reopen. The National Library patrimony is very important because of the wealth of its extensive collection on Haitian cultural heritage.
The complete collections of these libraries have been saved thanks to a team of 37 Haitian librarians that used their hands and their helmeted heads to recover books, archives and files under the rubble. All the material was then safely stored in cardboard boxes in the building of the National Library or in containers. The same action took place for private libraries, and also for valuable private collections of some Haitians people. In the same way UNESCO volunteers focussed on the recovery of four major collections of University libraries.

The FOKAL and the Association Libraries

FOKAL supports association libraries that are the prime institutions that give the Haitian people access to their culture. Twelve of the sixteen association libraries have been severely damaged. Eight of them suffered from theft. FOKAL aims at restoring and preserving the original association libraries, but they also want to set up a mobile library program. To do that properly a physical place is needed for the practical organisation. Following this FOKAL wants to set up animation programs to welcome people back in the libraries.

The Direction nationale du Livre

The Ministry of Culture of Haïti has a department called Direction nationale du Livre. Their core mission is to advocate public literacy. It intervenes in schools and also enables the start of a system of “home loan” for 50 people. This system is created to facilitate the circulation of books among the Haitian citizens.

Important needs

The needs and demands of the student community are very important. Despite the earthquake, the government maintained the planning of the exam sessions as an untold “life still goes on” challenge. Plenty of students live in the Port au Prince refugees camps and have nothing to work with: no tables, no seats, no Internet access. In order to help them, the National Library installed picnic and camping tables within the courtyard, but it’s not enough yet. Apart from that, the people are really in demand of reading materials. But association libraries could hardly open their doors because of the risks of their damaged buildings to collapse. So the need of a new cultural centre and library is very important.
Another way to fulfill the need is the creation of animation programs in order to cheer up the life of the people in the refugee camps. Animation programs have been launched by enthusiastic librarians of local communities, and are a really big success, especially for the children. The idea is also to bring people outside of the refugee camps. Libraries can play a key role in accomplishing this goal.

Access to knowledge and the importance of books and reading

Providing access to knowledge in combination with the traditional Haitian hunger for reading is a strong incentive to the future of the Haitian people. In Haiti, a book symbolises your possibilities for getting out of your condition of deep poverty. Thus knowledge and books are intimately bound into Haitian people’s grassroots mind.
Access to knowledge is a critical issue. Before the earthquake, Haiti counted 20 public libraries. The earthquake damaged four of those 20 libraries. There is also the concern of spreading the knowledge through the population. The lack of public schools leads to gender inequality in the Haitian society, especially in rural areas.

Culture through libraries: hope for the future

Despite the fact that 40% of the people are illiterate, Haitians are aware of their glorious past and the wealth of their culture. It is running through the Haitian veins.
The support that has been brought by the library community, and especially through IFLA, has been very important and welcomed. Phone calls and emails were proof of professional solidarity in the first days after the disaster. They encouraged us to stand up and to go further.
The important role and the permanent follow-up of IFLA, through its different programs make visible the effects of the international solidarity, but also show the Haitian colleagues that they are not alone!
Nevertheless eight months after the disaster the traumatisms remain intense and the Haitian library community still needs the full support of its foreign peers. With the support and close relations of the Caribbean library community and the support of the global community of librarians that IFLA represents, Haiti is going to pursue its library rebuilding work and its knowledge distribution.
To date Haiti only has 10 professional librarians, and 100 paraprofessional librarians, for 9 million people. Their energy and their passion for life, mixed with training programmes undertaken through IFLA, would allow to improve the situation.
As Françoise Thybulle quoted: “Our challenge is to give to the people a sense for new life. Rebuilding libraries is rebuilding the Haitian people. And to make this possible, we need you “!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Haiti Relief Infos - Welcome

This blog has been created after a discussion at an IFLA's 2010 General Congress session in Gothenburg to let people know about the different efforts that are being done to help Haiti after the earthquake on January 12th, 2010. It is supposed to tell about the IFLA's devotion to help, Danielle Mincio's project of a Preservation and Conservation's Center, the Ark project, Bibliothèques Sans Frontières, the Haitian Blue Shield, Fokal works with Libraries, and so one.

This blog also has the objective to tell people/institutions who want to donate what are the specific needs and how they can help; help the organisms listed above recruit volunteers to help; help the volunteers find the information they want to volunteer.

Erick Toussaint,

Library Trainer at Fokal

Ce blog a été créé suite a une discussion qui s'est tenue lors d'une session au Congres Annuel de l'IFLA 2010 a Goteborg pour informer les gens des efforts qui sont en train d’être effectues sur le terrain afin d'aider Haïti après le tremblement de terre du 12 janvier 2010. Il devrait parler de l'engouement de l'IFLA a aider Haïti, le projet de Danielle Mincio pour la construction d'un Centre de Préservation et de Conservation, le projet Arche, le travail de Bibliothèques Sans Frontières, le Bouclier Bleu Haïtien, les travaux de la FOKAL, et bien d'autres.

Ce blog se veut aussi être une référence pour les particuliers/institutions qui désirent faire des dons a Haïti de connaitre les besoins spécifiques et des différentes manières de contribuer; aider les organismes cites plus haut a recruter des volontaires; aider les volontaires a trouver les informations nécessaires pour effectuer le volontariat.

Erick Toussaint,

Formateur au Programme de Bibliothèque de FOKAL