More on Haitian archives

This is another round-up of information I’ve seen about the status of archival institutions in Haiti. The library community seems to be doing a much better job than the archival community of collecting sharing information on the situation of the libraries. But here’s what I’ve found. If you know of anything else, please post a comment:

  • From the Archivalia blog, “ANCBS wants to help the people of Haiti“: “… ANCBS needs to know who and where the experts are. ANCBS therefore calls upon archivists, restorers, curators, librarians, architects and other experts to register online as a volunteer. ANCBS wants to be able to bring experts in contact with those organizations that will send missions to Haiti, and make sure that volunteers will be informed about the situation in Haiti. Please join Blue Shield to help your Haitian colleagues. You may find the application form via: http://haiti2010.blueshield-international.org/.
  • See American Libraries, “Library Community Rallies to Aid Earthquake-Stricken Haiti
  • From the wall on the Facebook group “Digital Library of the Caribbean: “Thankfully I was able to meet with the Mr. Bertrand from the National Archives. His wife and parents are safe. He confirmed that both buildings are in tact, and that he will begin work on the emergency plan to preserve the most at risk collections next week.” And an update from Francoise Thybulle from the National Library (again, not about the National Archives but relevant): ” Even though the buildings are standing, we need government clearance to enter and work. They have started today with the hospitals and health establishments,they will do the schools next and the cultural buildings early February; I will keep you all posted. We have secured the perimeters of the buildings,mobilized the personnel and are awaiting clearance. We will definitely need help and expertise.”
  • And from an email that was shared on the Archives & Archivists listserv from Brooke Wooldridge of the Digital Library of the Caribbean: “Many institutions and individuals have expressed an interest in supporting the Haitian libraries/archives as they begin to rebuild. The outpouring of support and interest for the preservation of Haitian patrimony is unprecedented. Many of you are already in contact with colleagues regarding ways to help. I am trying to serve as a clearinghouse for the Haitian libraries of the different people, institutions or groups that would like to offer support to the libraries. Once I have feedback from the partner libraries in Haiti, I will share a working document of the projects I am aware of and an online survey for interested individuals to complete via http://www.facebook.com/l/d0a17;www.dloc.com . Feel free to contact me personally at dloc@fiu.edu or preferably via the dLOC Facebook Group if you are already planning a project locally.The Digital Library of the Caribbean (http://www.facebook.com/l/d0a17;www.dloc.com) has been working with partners in Haiti since it began in 2004. The National Archives in Haiti was a founding member of dLOC, and in the last few years we have developed strong relationships with both the National Library and the Fathers of the Holy Spirit (San Martial) Library. As more information becomes available from the local leadership, I will share it as widely as possible. I have been hesitant to send a large response until now because of the many conflicting reports. This information is confirmed, and comes from the directors of each library/archive.”
  • And from another email that was forwarded to the A&A listerv, from Jérémy Lachal the director of Bibliothéques Sans Frontiéres: ” . . . We think it’s urgent to run an international campaign for saving these collections, at least in France, the US and Canada. We have to create a dedicated funds to launch the campaign and raise money. In our side, we are already in contact with the French IFLA comittee (International Federation of Library Association), the Foreign Affairs (through its agency CulturesFrance) and the culture ministry. In the US we will work with professor Laurent Dubois, Duke University, who has a good knowledge of these collections and is ready to rally the archivists and the historians community. Patrick Tardieu, who is in Canada now will help us too, to have a better knowledge of the situation.We have to prepare, for next week to:

    1/ Open a dedicated fundraising paypal account at least in the US and France for the operation (not only focused on the emergency of saving these collections but also on the effort of rebuilding in the next monthes)

    2. Work with organizations such as IFLA, UNESCO and the FOKAL Foundation (its director, Elizabeth Pierre Louis, who we well know is still missing for the moment) in order to avoid the redundancies.

    3/ Prepare to form a team of curator, archivists, historians and logistics coordinators who would be ready to go there in the next weeks or months.

    For the moment we have good contacts in Guadeloupe. We might need to find places in Canada and in the US. People are mobilizing there and could prepare rapidly to host the collections for a while. Patrick Tardieu told me that we maybe could host them in other places in Haiti if the roads are ok. We’ll check up on this point next week. Our principal enemy will be the rain from now. The collections could be destroyed forever. Most of these pieces are unique.

    We’ll have more info hopefully next week on the collections and the situation there. Don’t hesitate to share the news you’d have.

  • UPDATE: Statement issued by ICA today: “Second ICA statement on Haiti – Reconstruction” reads in part:

    There are currently two problems in Port-au-Prince and other cities affected by the earthquake:

    * The increase in theft and deliberate destruction of documents: destroyed sites are not subject to adequate protection, including at night.
    * Clearing the ruins of strategic buildings: such operations are conducted without taking into account the documents or objects that could be preserved.

    * * *

    I hope that very soon we will see a statement from SAA that summarizes what they’ve learned from their contacts and gives recommended ways for American archivists to help.

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2 thoughts on “More on Haitian archives”

  1. Note the update to this post:

    UPDATE: Statement issued by ICA today: “Second ICA statement on Haiti – Reconstruction” reads in part:

    There are currently two problems in Port-au-Prince and other cities affected by the earthquake:

    * The increase in theft and deliberate destruction of documents: destroyed sites are not subject to adequate protection, including at night.
    * Clearing the ruins of strategic buildings: such operations are conducted without taking into account the documents or objects that could be preserved.

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