Tuesday, April 24, 2012


BCALA February / March 2012

We are sitting in the balcony of an out-door restaurant in Delmas, Haiti, the sound of music from the restaurant challenging the noise from the evening traffic below as the sun slowly gives up the day. It is our final night in Haiti. Over the past few days we have visited li-braries in several Haitian cities deter-mining how we can be of assistance in the recovery of the libraries there.

Our host has been overly kind to us. Emmanuel Menard, Director of Biblio-theque Nationale, the National Library of Haiti, and his staff have taken us to libraries in coastal cities and nearby Croix des Bouquet and have given us a tour of their national headquarters.

In the towns of St Louis du Sud, Caval-lion, Aux Caye and Croix des Bouquets we’ve seen small libraries housing collec-tions that are outdated, yet free for loan to residents of the town. These libraries have been established by residents of the city and at some point became part of the Na-tional Library public library system. They are testimonies to the value and desire for education in Haiti and Menard wants to transform these small semblances of librar-ies into educational centers that can have a positive impact on education in the coun-try. Most of these libraries don’t have elec-tricity and patrons sit in the warm build-ings reading newspapers, books or even using laptops with access to the Internet via stem cards.

He wants to professionally groom his staff by sending them to library schools in America then having them return to Haiti to train other staff. There aren’t any library schools in Haiti. That is a need that must be filled.

When the American Library Association returned to New Orleans last year, a group of librarians in New Orleans founded Bib-liotheque Parrainage (Library Sponsor). Our purpose was to adopt a library in Haiti and help with its recovery. That is our pur-pose but not our plan. Our plan is to let the peo-ple of Haiti determine how that should take place. And so we’ve trav-eled here to identify their needs as determined by the Director of the Na-tional Library.

Joseph Hector Louis Jeune, the Contact Liai-son for Bibliotheque Par-rainage, is President of the Board of the New Or-leans Haitian Relief Task Force. Louis Jeune is from Jacmel, Haiti and lives in New Orleans. He and Mr. Menard’s executive assistant, Jo-hannes Lause Michel are our translators. Michel lost her brother and father in the earthquake. Joel Vilmenay is from Wash-ington, DC and is one generation removed from being a native of Haiti. He is Presi-dent of the New Orleans Haitian Relief Task Force and has secured a videographer to film the trip. Both have accompanied me to Haiti to tour libraries and support the recovery.

Menard has provided us with a driver and for the last few days, he and Michel have taken us to libraries throughout Haiti; some of these libraries did not experience the earthquake, yet are still in need of as-sistance. They’ve shown us footage of the earthquake taking place in the National Library that was captured by the library’s security cameras. They’ve introduced us to the mayor of one small town, the president of a major district, and the Minister of Cul-ture, whose domain covers the libraries in Haiti. We’ve seen libraries in total darkness and libraries with light provided by the sun. We’ve spoken to library managers about their collections, their library’s history, and the challenges they face. The challenges are many and the financial resources quite limited.

Haiti and New Orleans historically have been connected and influences in food, music, art and language are present in our cultures. The obvious connection stems from the impact of the Haitian Revolution on the selling of the Louisiana Purchase to America. Planta-tion owners who escaped the revo-lution settled in New Orleans with their slaves. The 1811 Slave Revolt in Louisiana was planned with the assistance of for-mer slaves of the Haitian Revolu-tion. In present day Haiti, the names of heroes of the Haitian revolution are engraved around the wall in the Museum of the Founding Fathers. Many of these names are quite common in Louisi-ana today.

Having gone through Hurricane Katrina and witnessed firsthand how a library can be used as a disaster relief center for the community following a natural dis-aster, I rec-ognize the importance of a library to a devas-tated com-munity with no financial resources. When Hurricane Katrina devastated the City of New Orleans, the New Orleans Pub-lic Library became an immediate part of its recovery. The Main Library was leased by FEMA to establish a disaster relief center, providing assistance to residents for FEMA applications, SBA applications, tarps for houses, bottled water and more. The Main Library provided Internet use, faxing and a collection of books, DVDs, music and other resources for homeless residents scattered about a torn city and living in trailers, ho-tels, and cruise ships or if they were lucky, in one of the rare neighborhoods that es-caped the flood. But in Haiti, these sup-portive government agencies do not exist and resources are limited.

New Orleanians returned to a city full of flood swept homes and barren neighbor-hoods and found themselves displaced, overly exposed to the loss of human life, broke, angry and in some cases dehuman-ized, these wounds did scar us. Haiti is still living with their wounds.

On this final night of our visit, I feel in-formed, grateful and humbled by what I have seen over the past few days. As we are driven back to our ho-tel, we make a stop to drop off one of the staff members who lives in Delmas. Driving away from the business district of Delmas, the lights on the streets get fewer and fewer as we enter the residential neighborhood until finally there are no lights at all except for headlights of the truck we are in. A woman and a teenager walk in this dark-ness and our driver turns off the lights perhaps not to blind them with the beam. We are now in total dark-ness, but there is a light that goes off in my head. For several months and in some cases years, there were no lights in parts of New Orleans following Hur-ricane Katrina, but for peo-ple in Haiti, this is an every-day reality. In reaching out to Haiti to help them through their recov-ery, I have helped myself to understand just have far I’ve come in my own recovery process and how limited my struggle has been.

Pictures from Valencia Hawkins Article An Eye Opening Visit to a Haitian Library BCALA Feb_March 2012

Valencia Hawkins is the Associate Di-rector of Central Public Services for the New Orleans Public Library. She is presi-dent of Bibliotheque Parrainage, a non-profit organization based in New Orleans to assist libraries in Haiti. The organiza-tion works closely with the New Orleans Haitian Relief Task Force, whose board president is a member of Bibliotheque Parrainage. Donations for libraries in Haiti can be sent to Bibliotheque Parrain-age, P.O. Box 57418, New Orleans, La.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

BIBLIOTHEQUE PARRAINAGE New Orleans Adopts A Library In Haiti at Dillard University

New Orleans Adopts A Library In Haiti

The Student Government Association (SGA), the Student Activities Board, and the Blue Crew organizations of Dillard University  will be raffling money at a $1 chance ticket. Kickoff for the raffle is to begin Friday, February 10, 2012 and end Saturday, February 25, 2012 at the basketball game between Dillard and Xavier University. Representatives of Bibliotheque Parrainage are to be on hand for the drawing. The winner and Bibliotheque Parrainage are to share 50% each in the winning amount. 
For more information contact the SGA office at Dillard University. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Haitian Universities Struggle to Rebound

January 1, 2012
By Andrew Downie
The Faculty of Applied Linguistics at the State University of Haiti hardly looks like an institute of higher learning. Hidden away on a quiet downtown cross street, the grimy one-story building contains just three classrooms, along with a library, the dean's office, and a teachers' lounge, each no larger than a bedroom. Two years ago, the accommodations were slightly better, in a larger building with a language lab.
Then, at 4:53 p.m. on January 12, 2010, an earthquake rocked Haiti, taking hundreds of thousands of lives and destroying thousands of buildings, including many schools and universities. The linguistics building was among the hardest hit: Its top two floors crashed to the ground, killing all but about a dozen of the 300 students, professors, and staff on site.
Two years after the quake struck, higher education in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation is struggling to rebound. The always fragile sector has made only marginal improvements, hamstrung by a lack of equipment, qualified people, and space. What universities want most is money, but most international donors either have focused their efforts on elementary and secondary education or have been hesitant to hand over cash in a country riddled with corruption and mismanagement.
At the State U. of Haiti, the country's best-known university, many students prefer to live in tents in dormitory courtyards rather than in the damaged rooms. "We are in pretty much the same situation since the earthquake," says Pierre-Richard René (left), a student leader.
Gertrude Pierre, a nursing student at the State U. of Haiti, lives in a tent made of tarps and wooden poles. "I'm finishing up this year, but I still have a year or two more," she says. "Hopefully one day my education will help me improve my situation."
Professors' salaries are low and often go unpaid. Only a small percentage work full time. And university leaders are struggling not just to find the means to reconstruct buildings but also to reconceive the role of the university in a nation with so few resources.
"The quake was the opportunity to rebuild the system as a whole," says Béatrice Kébreau, regional administrator of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, a Paris-based group of international universities. "Governments in the past never supported higher education. The curriculum was weak, and the funding wasn't there. If they are building buildings and not rethinking the system that didn't work in the first place, then things will only go from bad to worse."
The 1-Percent Problem
The reconstruction process has been especially difficult because successive Haitian governments never paid much attention to higher education in this nation of 10 million people. Only 22 percent of Haitians finish elementary school, and only 1 percent have completed college, according to government figures. Some 39 percent of the population is illiterate, so the top priority, however badly executed, has always been elementary education.
Soon after the quake, the country's president at the time, René Préval, created a presidential task force on education, which was charged with drafting a five-year "Operation Plan" for reforming Haiti's education system. It proposed expanding higher-education enrollments and raising more than a half-billion dollars to rebuild and revamp the system.
Haiti's current president, Michel Martelly, who took power in May, named the country's first-ever under secretary for higher education, although he also emphasized that his focus is on bolstering elementary education.
So far though, grand plans have seen little follow-through. Those in charge of higher education at the education ministry say they have had to beg for money, often in vain. They doubt that the appointment of Jean Claude François to the higher-education post will make much difference.
"We don't have a specific budget," says Florence Pierre-Louis, director of the higher-education sector at the ministry. "When I need something we make a request for funds, but it is rarely approved. I am very frustrated. Every time I go to the government and explain our problems, I am rebuffed and told the priority is primary education." 
Worse Off
There is little doubt that Haiti's universities are far worse off now than they were before the earthquake. A study carried out immediately after the disaster by the Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development, based in Haiti, found that 87 percent of the country's 32 largest universities had been either demolished or badly damaged.
The State University of Haiti was among the hardest hit. It is the country's best known and largest institution, enrolling as many as two-thirds of the 38,000 students in the higher-education system—across a network of 11 faculties, or schools, in and around Port-au-Prince, and seven more elsewhere in the country. Nine of its 13 buildings were destroyed in the quake or were so damaged as to be unusable.
The neighboring Dominican Republic has built a new campus for the university in the north of the country (see article on facing page), and university leaders have set aside land to build a unified campus for its Port-au-Prince faculties just north of the city. But at many universities, lessons take place in makeshift classrooms fashioned from wood and wire that the instructors call chicken coops. Other classes are held in open yards or under canvas tents. Some happen in the shade of tropical trees, an experience one teacher good-naturedly calls "very Socratic."
Agronomy students at the university live in buildings with big cracks in the walls; a few are housed in tents in the faculty patio, surrounded by goats, chickens, and smoldering garbage. Even where buildings are intact, some students prefer not to enter, because of lingering traumas.
And at almost all of the country's institutions, vital materials that were already in short supply, such as books, computers, microscopes, and audiovisual equipment, were lost.
"The quake destroyed a lot of what we had," says Jean Monnel Fils-Aimé, a 37-year-old senior in the school of linguistics. "There isn't enough space. There is no language lab. There is no space to put a library. We don't have enough books. And those in charge don't do anything about it."
Life Goes On
Yet the linguistics school is also a good example of how life goes on in Haiti. Students and professors work in the three ground-floor classrooms rebuilt with bricks and wooden partitions. Classes take place in windowless chambers filled with wood-and-metal school chairs facing a whiteboard or blackboard.
When there is electricity (it cuts out on a daily basis), a fan buzzes away in the corner.
One recent afternoon when a professor failed to show—not an unusual occurrence—several students, many of whom have nowhere else to go, sit at the back of the room chatting. A few others sit outside with their heads in their books. The lucky ones cram themselves into what passes for a library, a tiny room with a desk and two cabinets of books.
Out back, against a makeshift wooden wall, broken chairs and desks are piled up. Occasionally an instructor will pass by and almost apologetically wedge himself into the equally tiny lounge.
"We didn't have enough space before, and now it is even worse. We do our best with the little space we have, but it is more difficult than ever," says Saintfurmé Dorgil, a language professor who was in the building when it collapsed. He lost three fingers on his right hand but says he was one of the fortunate ones.
Although it educates an enormous number of students, the university's budget is almost $10-million a year—a sum so small that administrators say it makes rebuilding nearly impossible.
"It was very difficult to restart because we lost our labs and all our infrastructure," says Jean Vernet Henry, the rector. "We built some shelters to restart courses, but the hands-on aspect is difficult because you can't practice in shelters. And teaching conditions are very difficult. We have tried to find funds and financing to rebuild, but we can't."
Reluctant to Help
Haitian universities have no tradition of planning ahead, and so foreign donors are reluctant to offer help without a clear idea of where their money is going to be spent. In comments echoed by other administrators, Mr. Henry says much of the assistance offered by partner universities from abroad is dependent on the Haitian institutions' being up and running again, something they can't do until they have new homes.
"We have received a lot of universities who can help us, but they don't have the resources to build," he says. "They can help us with distance learning, scholarships, student and teacher exchanges."
The main problem for the university's 11 faculties is a lack of money, the rector says. And while assistance from abroad was vital in helping universities get through the weeks and months following the disaster, longer-term aid is less focused on rebuilding infrastructure.
Construction costs are just one of several financial issues facing Haitian universities, though. Around 80 percent of the State University of Haiti's annual budget goes to pay professors. And finding qualified staff who will accept low salaries—which are frequently not paid on time—is a constant headache.
In Haiti, more than half of university professors hold only bachelor's degrees. Just one in 10 has a Ph.D. Most teach part time, earning around $12 an hour for the privilege. The university's 100 full-time professors earn about $1,000 per month.
"It is very difficult to find quality teachers because we cannot pay," Mr. Henry says. "When they get a Ph.D. they leave because we cannot keep them. They go to an NGO and get four or five times what they earn here. If you don't have full-time teachers, then it is very difficult to orient students."
Other experts agree and say most professors work other jobs during the day and teach classes in their specialized subjects in their spare time. As a result, few form close links to their students, and mentoring is rare.
Reform Efforts Stalled
There is talk of abolishing the senior thesis at the university because the lack of help from professors means that many students submit work of poor quality.
Efforts to reform the antiquated curriculum have stalled. Second-year students studying agriculture, for example, spend 46 hours a week in the classroom, including half a day on Saturday. First-year medical students sit through 44 hours of lectures a week, most days entering at 8 a.m. and not leaving until 5 p.m., not even for lunch.
"There is no time to digest this information. There is no time to read. There is no time to reflect. There is no time to do projects," says Conor Bohan, an American who runs HELP, a foundation set up to give scholarships to Haiti's top high-school graduates. "There's no focus on critical-thinking skills in the Haitian education system."
Such problems can be traced to the country's history of poverty and oral traditions. Jane Regan, an American professor of audiovisual communication at the state university, reckons that her students are at the level of high-school juniors in the United States.
In a country where almost three-quarters of the population survives on less than $2 a day, many students can't afford to eat, let alone buy books. Others travel for hours on packed buses to get to classes—or walk for miles because they can't afford the bus fare.
And yet, says Ms. Regan, who has been teaching here for a year, the vast majority turn up on time, impeccably dressed, and with an exemplary attitude. "It makes you realize how spoiled American students are when they complain the Internet is down or the food is bad."
Measures of Success
Some reform and rebuilding efforts, however modest, are under way, with foreign universities providing training and technical assistance to some Haitian universities (see article, Page A9).
Another major issue is the proliferation of unaccredited universities. Government officials and heads of the top private universities agree that Haiti must crack down on the many such enterprises that have sprung up in recent years.
Although Haiti has around 200 higher-education institutions, only 50 or so are licensed to operate, with most of the others bare-bones, storefront operations. The education ministry employs just three people to accredit new institutions and review existing ones.
The new under secretary for higher education says he plans to draft legislation by the middle of this year to establish firm accreditation and regulation guidelines.
That timeline might be optimistic given Haiti's chronically slow pace of change, but administrators at private universities say they would support such an initiative as long as it is introduced gradually.
"You can't close 150 universities overnight because they are not up to scratch," says Patrick Attié, head of L'Ecole Supérieure d'Infotronique d'Haiti, which offers programs in business administration as well as computer science. "It has to be a smooth process so they fall by the wayside. It's better to have students in bad universities than on the streets."
Mr. Attié is more optimistic than most academics about Haitian higher education's ability to bounce back, and not just because his small institution is one of the few using the earthquake to start from scratch.
Some others have also rebounded relatively quickly, including highly regarded Quisqueya University. The private institution took out a bank loan to replace five-story buildings destroyed in the quake with solid one- and two-story structures.
Quisqueya and the State University of Haiti also are jointly developing a "doctoral college," through which they aim to produce, in the next three years, at least 40 Ph.D.'s who will focus their research in areas of importance to Haiti's development. Financing will come largely from the French government, French partner universities, and the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, says Jacky Lumarque, Quisqueya's rector.
It is a rare piece of positive news, and Mr. Lumarque believes the foreign aid is a sign that support is available for those universities that can guarantee the money will be spent productively.
Haitians are understandably reluctant to talk positively about a disaster that killed as many as 316,000 people. But they acknowledge that there are advantages in treating it as a watershed for the country—and for higher education.
"The quake brought the attention of the university world like never before," says Mr. Lumarque. "That is a paradigm shift. This is a new trend and a great opportunity. We need to take it."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Community Book Center Presents: A reading of selected poems from, "City Without People", by Niyi Osundare

Join Community Book Center as we host a reading on Saturday, October 29th from 2-4pm with Niyi Osundare, author of City Without People: The Katrina Poems   at CBC.
Niyi Osundare and his wife Kemi spent over 26 hours in the attic of their home and watched Hurricane Katrina swamp their house and destroy everything the family owned. Only a somewhat divine intervention by a neighbor saved them from perishing in the flood.
This new volume of poems is not just about the devastation caused by the flood, the agonizing journey through  the evacuation centers, and the four-month 'exile' in New Hampshire; it is also about the indomitability of the human spirit and a celebration of the ‘rainbow vernacular’ of New Orleans, our city.
Coming on the sixth anniversary of Katrina, this volume sings of the experiences we must never forget and the lessons we need to learn.

October 29th , 2011
Community Book Center
2523 Bayou Rd.
(504) 948-7323
Celebrating 28 years of service to our community!
 Also on Sunday come out an support the Hope For Haitian Children's Foundation from 1-4pm (See below)
 Vera Warren-Williams
Community Book Center

2523 Bayou Road

New Orleans, LA 70119

(504) 948-READ (7323)


Zeitgeist and Haitian Art Society Host Event to Benefit Hope for Haitian Children Foundation
The Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Art Center, located at 1618 Oretha Castle Hailey Boulevard, and the Haitian Art Society will host an event for the Hope for Haitian Children Foundation, Inc (HFHCF). on Sunday, October 30th from noon to 4:00 p.m.  The event will feature an art sale with paintings and metalworks from the gallery and private collection of Marie Jose Poux.  All proceeds from the sale of the art will benefit HFHCF, which feeds, educates, and clothes over one hundred children in Delmas, Haiti.  Multi- media and performance artist Tina Girouard will host an informal discussion on Haitian art from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the sale. Three major collaborative works by Tina Girouard and Haitian artist Antoine Oleyant will be on display.  The event is open to the public, and more information is available by calling and 954.263.3008 or by visiting the foundation’s website at:  https://duems01.dillard.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=1ef6d8b8c126425ba2468f36cb721bad&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.hopeforhaitianchildrenfoundation.org%2f.                                                                                                                                                                                                     
HFCHF Executive Director and activist Marie Jose Poux (fondly known as Mariejo) has been supporting the efforts of and promoting Haitian artists in the New Orleans area for more than three decades.  Mariejo and Tina Girouard became friends as a result of their efforts to raise awareness of the deep cultural ties between Haiti and New Orleans. Ms. Girouard will touch upon those connections as the discussion unfolds on Sunday afternoon.  The artist, who has collaborated with and promoted many Haitian artists,  wants to further support  Mariejo whose gallery sales have become one of the main sources of revenue for funding the work that she and her staff of twenty perform on behalf of Haitian orphans. Marijo will move her art gallery to Miami after Sunday’s event, so this will be the last opportunity for New Orleans residents to make a purchase with a greater purpose!
Mariejo “inherited” Fepe, Foyer Espoir Pour Les Enfants, or Hope for Haitian Children Foundation, in 2009 when the wife of the original founder/director passed away.  There were fourteen children in the home at the time, but when the January 2010 earthquake devastated much of Port-au-Prince and the areas surrounding the capital, additional orphans referred to Marijo brought the number up to thirty-four.   Today HFHCF serves one hundred ten children in a modest- size house that, until recently, also included space for home schooling on the first floor.  The challenges have been great, but Mariejo is passionate about her mission and has made many friends in New Orleans who generously lend a hand. “Every day is a miracle!” says Mariejo “I know God can’t give me a job to do without giving me the tools.” 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Serials Solutions to Enable Full-Text Search of the HathiTrust Collection

March 28, 2011 16:27
From the press release:
Serials Solutions and HathiTrust today announced an agreement to enable full-text search of the entire HathiTrust collection of digitized scholarly books from the Summon™ web-scale discovery service. Researchers and faculty at institutions with the Summon™ service will be able to use the library’s own website to search the full text of its print books and serials, and discover materials relevant to their research topics. This collaboration makes the full text of much of the library’s physical collection as easily searchable as its electronic content.