Reconstructing History and Memory in Haiti

Experts to assess damage in Haiti museums « Repeating Islands.

“AFP reports that the UN cultural agency UNESCO is sending a team of experts to quake-hit Haiti on Wednesday to assess damage in the Caribbean nation’s museums and monuments, its director general said. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also wants to help the University of Haiti in Port-au-Prince return to normal. “I am sending experts tomorrow (Wednesday) to look at the situation in the museums, to see the state of various cultural objects, because the information that we have is that there has been a lot of destruction,” Irina Bokova told AFP….”

See Repeating Islands to read the rest.

From Jérémy Lachal and Danielle Mincio via H-Net:

Here is a brief note on the situation in Haïti.

We have a contact with Patrick Tardieu who is an archivist in the oldest library in Port au Prince, Bibliothèque des Pères du Saint Esprit.  Fortunately, he’s alive and flighted yesterday to Canada. The first information we have are:

– Saint Martial College in which there is the Bibliothèque Haïtienne des pères du saint esprit collapsed

– The St Louis de Gonzague library building would be ok but very weakened

– The national Library collapsed, at least a part of it

– Most of the university libraries collapsed too

Those libraries gathered very old collections (from the 16th century).  Several manuscripts were brought by the missionaries who came from Europe.  Other have been collected in the Caraibs (notably, publications on the
haitian revolutions, transcriptions of vaudou oral traditions, personal documents from the 18th centuries).

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 dedicated funds to launch the campaign and raise money. On our side, we are already in contact with the French IFLA comittee (International Federation of Library Association), the Ministry of 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 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 ennemy 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.

Thank you for your mobilization. BSF sent a first communiqué today in memory of Mamadou Bah, a good friend of us, who worked at the UN in Port au Prince.

You’ll find it at this adress:

We have no news from Nixon Calixte who was coordinating the UNiversity Libraries network in Haiti


Jérémy Lachal
Directeur – BSF
+33.(0) – +33.(0)
Bibliothèques Sans Frontières
69 rue Armand Carrel, 75019 Paris

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vos achats sur Internet:

From: Danielle Mincio []
Sent: Friday, January 22, 2010 7:51 AM
Subject: [IFLA-L] News about Haitian Libraries

Dear Colleagues,

The National library has not collapsed but is badly damaged. Patrimonial architects are going to examine the state of the building to know it will be possible to intervene. The state of cultural buildings will be analysed after those absolutely essential (hospital, etc.)

St Gonzague’s patrimonial Library is completely destroyed.

The St Martial Library, possessing manuscripts from the 17th to 19th centuries, is badly damaged in its structure and will also require an intervention of rescue.

The Library of the University Quisqueya is also very damaged.

While waiting,  the international Committee of the Blue Shield launched the on-line registration of the volunteers in English or in French.
Attention to use only small letters in your address
Join us !

The president of Bibliothèques Sans Frontières has given me the bibliographical list of the needs of the Haitian university libraries. I cannot attach a list of titles to this message, so please contact me separately if you are able to donate works. The list concerns especially books in French in letters, agronomy, linguistics, odontology, health, psychology, history, geography, sociology, philosophy, physics, mathematics, computing.

For an update on the situation you can listen to the podcast of an interview (in French) of one of our former colleagues Jean-Euphèle Milcé, recorded in Haiti on Thursday by RSR

Thanks for your support

Kind regards

Danielle Mincio
Conservateur des manuscrits
Responsable PAC
Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire
CH 1015 Lausanne Dorigny
Tél +41 21 692 47 83

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