Arlington Public Library is reaching out to Haiti with the goal of helping rebuild the municipal library in the coastal town of Petit-Goâve a year after the devastating earthquake and aftershocks.
|Destroyed Petit-Goâve Library|
A year ago on Jan. 12, 2010, the poorest Caribbean nation was hit by a catastrophic quake measuring 7 on the Richter scale, which was followed by scores of deadly aftershocks. An estimated 230,000 people were killed and more than a million were left homeless. It was the worst natural disaster to hit the Haiti in two centuries. Petit-Goâve, some 40 miles southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince, lost about ten percent of its population, roughly 12,000 people. Today, a vast majority of Petit-Goâve residents are under the age of 18.
The town also saw its public library and dozens of schools destroyed, while thousands were forced to live in tent cities where they remain. Despite the devastation, Petit-Goâve library workers have been bringing books and stories to children in camps and shelters while officials look to replace their public library—one of only 20 in the country—at an estimated cost of $350,000. Four other Haitian libraries were completely destroyed by the quake.
Arlington Public Library’s Youth Services team has formed a sister-library partnership with their Petit-Goâve colleagues through the International Federation of Library Associations and American Library Association. Our goals include:
- Provide the municipal library with funds from the Friends of the Arlington Public Library
– 50 cents will be donated per Arlington child who completes his/her reading goal during the 2011 Get Caught Reading program (featuring the theme “One World, Many Stories”)
- Get Caught Reading activities will also offer ways for Arlington children to show solidarity with Petit-Goâve through artistic expression, i.e. portable murals, quilting, bookmark making, letter writing, puppet shows, blogging and storytelling
|Tent camp storytime|
Haiti has only 12 professionally trained librarians. Françoise Beaulieu-Thybulle, the national director of Haiti’s libraries, says the generosity of libraries around the world has helped keep spirits alive as the recovery process goes on. “We belong to a community of public servants around the world: caring, understanding, ready to help.”
A 9-year-old girl has already asked Petit-Goâve officials to make sure the new library is painted in the brightest of colors. Young Nalia told them the town has been “a dark, dull ghost town” since the earthquake and “if I had crayons, I’d show you how bright I mean.”
Photos provided by Deborah J. Lazar, MILS, New Trier High School.