Monday, January 25, 2010

Of Disasters, preparedness and wisdom

After a disaster--be it national, persona, or both--occurs the time for finger wagging is over.  I am not going to repeat all the places for helping with Haiti as so many blogs, tweets, and newsletters have posted suggestions for everyone.  One of the persons at ACL posted information about the condition of libraries in Haiti.  Please keep this situation in your prayers and consider what you or your library can do to assist.

Here's the information from Dorothy Bowen who works at  Eastern Kentucky University.
"Good afternoon.

Although this is not about theological libraries, I though it might be of interest to you. It was sent to my daughter who has been evacuated from Haiti along with my two grandchildren. Her husband is still at Quisqueya Christian School in Port au Prince.

I am sending it pretty much as received. "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 Haïtiennedes 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 fromEurope. 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 thesecollections, at least in France, the US and Canada. We have to creatededicated funds to launch the campaign and raise money. On our side,
we are already in contact with the French IFLA committee (International
Federation of Library Association), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(through its agency CulturesFrance) and the culture ministry. In theUS 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 thesituation.

We have to prepare, for next week to :

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

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

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

For the moment we have good contacts in Guadeloupe. We might need tofind 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 thesituation 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."

Dorothy N. Bowen, Ph. D.

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