Egalite for all: investing in Haiti's cultural heritage

 In response to the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti, the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC), in partnership with FIU Libraries and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at FIU, established the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative (PHPI) to help support the preservation and reconstruction efforts of Haiti’s libraries and archives.  The Digital Library of the Caribbean works closely with libraries, archives, museums and other repositories to preserve and disseminate Caribbean information.  Since January 2010, PHPI has raised over $20,000 in grants and donations and $30,000 in computers and archival supplies for the preservation of at-risk library and archival collections in Haiti.

The many priceless holdings of the partner libraries and archives include historical books, newspapers, letters and legal documents.  Some of these documents such as the letter recommending Toussaint Louverture to Commander-in-Chief, Haitian political journals La Ronde and La Nouvelle Ronde and influential works published by key Haitian political and literary figures are already available online at www.dloc.com.  However, there are many more resources that require restoration and digitization to ensure that they are available tomorrow and for generations to come. 

The three heritage libraries and the National Archives have made much progress in the last year.  On January 17, the Christian Brothers Library (FIC by its letters in French) at Saint Louis de Gonzague proudly reopened to the public.  The National Library should reopen its main library in Port-au-Prince in February, and construction of a new, albeit smaller, library for the Fathers of the Holy Spirit Library at the Petit Séminaire Collège Saint Martial has already begun.  The National Archives continues to service the public at the Civil Archives while working to address the great losses from the many fallen government buildings in addition to the documents held centrally in the historical archive. 

On Thursday, February 17, 2011, Florida International University and the University of Miami will come together to host a community screening of the PBS-produced documentary, Égalité for All:  Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution. The screening will be followed by remarks by Edwidge Danticat, who is featured in the film alongside other members of the South Florida Haitian and Haitian-American community, including Edouard Duval Carrié, Jan Mapou, Chantalle Verna and Erol Josué.

The event begins at 6:00 pm and will take place at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, located at 260 NE 59th Terrace in Little Haiti.  The Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC) at Florida International University, Florida International University Libraries, the University of Miami Center for Latin American Studies and University of Miami Libraries are all sponsors of this fundraiser in benefit of the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative.    The partner organizations in Haiti mentioned above will receive 100% of the contributions from the event. For more information or if you would like to donate online, please go to http://dloc.com/info/egaliteforall or contact the Latin American and Caribbean Center at FIU at 305-348-2894.