State of the Haitian Libraries after the earthquake

ISPAN, the Institut de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine National (Institute for the Safeguarding of the National Patrimonie), has just published a new issue of their Bulletin that highlights some of the damage to historic structures in Haiti during the January 12 earthquake. You can access the document (in French) through this link (PDF), which contains numerous photographs of the damage inflicted by the earthquake on Haiti’s monuments.

ISPAN has also issued a report to help clarify the significant and understandable confusion as to the state of the four main patrimonial libraries in Port-au-Prince.

All four of Haiti’s main libraries (Archives Nationales d’Haïti, Bibliothèque haïtienne des Pères du Saint-Esprit / San Martial, Bibliothèque haïtienne des Frères de l’Instruction Chrétienne / Saint Louis de Gonzague, and the Bibliothèque nationale d’Haïti ) are standing. Contrary to widespread reports, the  the library at Saint Louis de Gonzague (FIC) was NOT destroyed.

According to the director of the National Library, Mme. Francoise Thybulle, the structures must be inspected before the local staff can assess the situation and prepare detailed plans that will certainly ask for international assistance.  While the buildings are standing, this does not diminish what will be the very real need for assistance once the local leadership is able to assess the situation.  All of the library directors have asked that interested parties work together to help preserve the collections and bring these libraries/archives back into service. Please see our post below about plans to help preserve the collections or go to for information on the coordination of efforts.

Anne Eller (NYU) kindly sent me a report on the damage to the libraries in Port-au-Prince, which provide links instrumental to these reports on Haiti’s national patrimony.  I am most grateful to her for the information, which I have supplemented here through other available information and links to organizations who are organizing help to protect Haiti’s invaluable archives.

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