First and foremost, the immediate concern in Haiti is to save people’s lives. Eventually though, as Haitians begin to reconstruct their cities, they will need access to their cultural heritage and public history documented and preserved by their libraries and archives. What happens when records crucial to the identity of an individual (think like our American our social security, vital records, government documentation, etc.) are destroyed? What if the cultural heritage materials intrinsic to our identity as a nation, such as the Declaration of Independence or the Statue of Liberty are compromised?
The American, and international, archival and library community are gravely concerned about Haitian cultural heritage and have responded to this international crisis in a number of ways, namely raising money for humanitarian aid and sharing disaster relief information. Follow the links below to see efforts underway and to learn ways in which you can get involved.
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, described as the global voice of the library and information profession, issued a statement on their solidarity and support to their Haitian colleagues, pledging to assist in any way they can.
UNESCO called for ban on trade in Haitian artifacts to prevent pillaging of the country’s cultural heritage.
The U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield is a charitable nonprofit organization committed to the protection of cultural property worldwide during armed conflict. The ICBS asserts that cultural heritage is "fundamental in rebuilding the identity, the dignity and the hope of the communities after a catastrophe." To read their statement on the earthquake in Haiti and on how to help protect cultural property, click here.
The International Council on Archives has alerted the Haitian government and the international aid community of the threat to cultural resources. As the immediate crisis recedes and reconstruction begins, particularly the clearing of debris & building ruins, the salvage of records and cultural property will be crucial to resuming political and administrative functioning.
Libraries Without Borders's mission is t0 support education in developing and disaster affected areas by providing children, students and adults access to well-equipped, up-to-date and efficient libraries. LWB has information on aiding the survival of Haitian Culture by donating to shelter, restore, and digitize Haitian archive and manuscripts; rebuild infrastructures, and support libraries and educational institutions; and give books to rebuild destroyed libraries’ collections.
Lastly, the American Library Association gave a statement about the destruction of cultural institution in Haiti and created a web page with tips on how to help.