The Digital Library of the Caribbean’s Initiative
to Support the Vulnerable Libraries and Archives of Haiti

In response to the earthquake on January 12, 2010, many institutions and individuals have expressed an interest in supporting Haitian libraries and archives as they begin the difficult and costly process of rebuilding and working towards the future.  The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) has been working closely with its partner institutions in Port-au-Prince and is poised to play a vital role in helping them coordinate their efforts to rebuild and implement a long-term plan of sustainability for the future.  The Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative builds on strong, long term partnerships, with an emphasis on accountability and transparency. 

When established just after the earthquake, the PHP Initiative prioritized three goals:  to encourage collaboration, coordinate technical and in-kind assistance, and raise money to support recovery and preservation projects in Haiti.  PHPI has provided support for the libraries as they work to protect their collections and will continue to provide support moving forward into the preservation phase. To date, PHPI has raised over $12,000 in donations, $8,000 in grants, and delivered computers and archival boxes valued at $30,000. Donations have come from individuals, libraries, and other organizations across the United States and the Caribbean. 

The libraries and archives need your support so that they can re-open their doors and begin serving the public.  As the country faces the challenges of rebuilding, the Haitian heritage libraries and archives hold many answers for today’s and tomorrow’s leaders. Please consider supporting these important libraries and archives. 




How is the project organized?


The Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative brings together international contributors to assist Haiti with the preservation of Haitian cultural patrimony while respecting local sovereignty.

Guiding Principles:

The directors of the partner institutions in Haiti provide leadership for the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative. They are responsible for identifying the most critical areas of need related to the preservation of cultural patrimony and making recommendations to the dLOC Executive Board.

The dLOC Executive Board has final approval authority for the allocation of funds raised through the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative.

Contributors include both individuals and institutions seeking to support the mission of the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative.

In an effort to maximize impact, contributors commit to sharing information and collaborating in support of Haitian libraries and archives. Of course, all parties are free to pursue other group and/or individual projects.

Contributors agree to actively participate in the strengthening of Haitian institutions in an effort to enhance the ability of these libraries and archives to manage and preserve their collections in-country.


The initiative has three goals:

  1. Encourage communication across institutions working to assist Haiti’s libraries
  2. Coordinate technical and in-kind assistance for Haiti’s libraries
  3. Raise funds to support specific collection/archival recovery and preservation projects in Haiti, including purchasing and shipping needed materials, paying travel costs for specialists to travel to Haiti, and paying wages for personnel carrying out archival preservation and recovery work in Haiti


Who are we helping?

  Four main collections in Port-au-Prince:

Archives Nationales d’Haïti houses civil and state records as well of those of the Office of the President and most government ministries.

Bibliothèque Nationale d’Haïti, established in 1939, holds a collection of historical rare books, manuscripts and newspapers, and offers current publications, research support, and study space.

Bibliothèque haïtienne des Frères de l’Instruction Chrétienne, founded in 1912 by the Christian Brothers, serves as a repository for Haitian imprints and holds one of the most significant collections of newspapers.

Bibliothèque haïtienne des Pères du Saint-Esprit, founded in 1873 by the Fathers of the Holy Spirit, holds documents and rare books chronicling French colonization, slavery and emancipation, the Haitian Revolution, and Haiti’s nineteenth and twentieth century history.

In addition to the four collections mentioned above, there is a great need to support the redevelopment of the libraries of the State University of Haiti and the University of Quisqueya, as well as the public libraries of FOKAL and other private collections.  First priority is given to the immediate needs of the patrimonial libraries, but other collections may be considered if funding allows.  

How are we helping?

The rebuilding of the libraries and archives in Haiti is led by the local directors of each institution.  Through a multi-tiered approach that involves institutions, organizations, and individuals, the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative provides an avenue for increased communication and collaboration in the international community and financial, in-kind, and technical assistance for the Haitian libraries and archives.

At the institutional and organizational levels, contributors dedicate resources (financial, technical, in-kind or human capital) to support the Haitian libraries and archives.  Additionally, contributors commit to sharing information, strategies, and best practices related to outreach to Haiti.

At the individual level, contributors agree to:

  • Donate financially
  • Organize fundraisers
  • Provide supplies requested by libraries and archives
  • Pack or ship items collected
  • Travel to Haiti to assist – specialized
  • Travel to Haiti to assist – general

For more information see the links below:

Protecting Haitian Patrimony (PHP) Initiative Reports
These reports include the initial assessment of the libraries in February 2010, and updates of the fundraising progress in August and December 2010. (All reports)

Caribbean Studies Association, Barbados, June 8, 2010 (presentation)

Images and Videos from the Haitian Libraries
Inside the Bibliothèque haïtienne des Frères de l’Instruction Chrétienne (video)

How will the money be allocated?

Funds collected through the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative, via its coordination site at Florida International University, are used to support the future development of Haiti through the preservation of Haitian cultural patrimony.  All donations are tax deductible. 

First priority is given to the immediate needs of the patrimonial libraries.  Other collections may be considered if funding allows or if other unforeseen critical needs arise.

Funds are intended for, but not limited to, use in the following critical areas:

  • Partner institution temporary staffing costs
  • Equipment
  • Archival and storage materials
  • Shipping
  • Preservation
  • Travel for specialists

The dLOC Executive Board has final approval authority on all allocations.  All funded partner institutions must comply with the reporting requirements of the FIU Foundation.

How can I donate online?

In order to donate online, click on this link (or the button above).  It will take you to the FIU institutional donation page.   On the first page you will enter your personal contact information and <<Continue>> to the next page.  On the second page, you will enter the amount, select <<Digital Library of the Caribbean Fund>> and enter the payment information.  All donations to this fund will be allocated to the Protecting Haitian Patrimony until at least August 2010. However, if you would like, you can state in the comment line that the donation is directed to the Protecting Haitian Patrimony initiative.

Who is contributing to the Initiative?

PHPI is currently working with a number of interested institutions to support the libraries and archives in Haiti.  In addition to the institutions below, many dedicated individuals are supporting this initiative.

American Library Association
Brown University
CARICOM Secretariat
Duke University
International Blue Shield
Florida International University
John Carter Brown Library
National Library of the Dominican Republic
Organization of American States Pan American Institute for Geography and History
Smithsonian / US Blue Shield
United States National Archives and Records Administration
University of the West Indies - Jamaica
University of Florida
University of Miami