Haiti Projects has a unique op- portunity this year to rethink libraries. We are asking what is the purpose of a library, how might it transform a commu- nity and how might it be a cornerstone to education and development in rural Haiti? Then, how can we get one built?
Historically, libraries have been repositories of knowledge in the form of books, films, maps, historical documents, among many other items. Libraries can be considered places of learning, places of gathering, and places of connecting to ideas and people. Furthermore, librar- ies were places where knowledge was not only deposited, but also shared. The idea that books or information could be shared by many, rather than possessed by only a few, made knowledge accessible. Building on this idea of shared knowledge, libraries allowed people to educate themselves, and dare to reach beyond circumstances. Andrew Carnegie, one of the biggest backers of public libraries, required towns help raise funds, initiate the discussion of a new library, and only then ask for assistance in building a library, at which point Carnegie would agree to assist. Carnegie believed in giving to the “industrious and ambitious; not those who need everything done for them, but those who, being most anxious and able to help themselves, deserve and will be benefited by help from others.”
Haiti Projects has run its tiny three-room library for years, and we have proven that it works for the community. We have over 1,200 active library card holders, 700 cyber café visitors, literacy programs and a running lecture series.
The community is ready, has asked, and is willing to work along side us to build a new library. So, what is the library of the future? What types of spaces are critical? Check out these sketches from Haiti Projects’ Architect Bruce Wood. Let us know what you think: contribute ideas, thoughts and to this discussion by contacting us at: haitiprojects.org. Finally, donations are critical to this effort and all donations are matched by the Kellogg Foundation. Contact us at haitiprojects.org to donate funds to the project and help us make the library of the future a reality!