I met Barbara when she was a student and DROP TV (Direct Revolution of Programming) producer at the non-profit where I used to work. When she graduated high school, she became our organization’s first youth Board member and we became friends (no longer stuck in our teacher/student roles). Sadly, the day came when her Student Visa had worn thin and she had to head home to Haiti. We’ve kept in touch since her departure by email and Facebook and even an occasional phone call or video chat. One day I posted an article on Facebook about a library in Queens that was throwing away “pristine” copies of books during their weeding process without allowing for staff or patrons to offer these books new homes. Barbara wrote to me infuriated by this story and told me about the situation in Haiti for library and book lovers. Knowing that Barbara is an avid reader of YA and a writer as well, I asked her to come share her thoughts and experiences here. So without further ado…
- Hello, my name is Barbara. I aspire to be everything, but mostly I really want to be a Media Mogulette. I was honored that Em wanted me to write about not having proper, well-stocked libraries in Haiti.
My most pleasurable past time is reading. When I perish (how fatalistic of me), I dream that I will be so lucky as to do so in a library or a book store and they can place my urn on the mantlepiece surrounded by books.
I’m a survivor of the January 12th, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. That day we lost not only a lot of people, but we also lost our cultural institutions and the very few libraries we had. Our libraries, which were already in shambles, were either completely destroyed or closed down because of financial strain. Not having a major library leaves a deep sense of emptiness for a book addict such as myself. How am I supposed to furnish my young mind and what of my fellow citizen and books lovers and little future book lovers?
My dream when I become Oprah rich! (I can dream) is to open and finance libraries all over this country of ours.
I wept when I read that Jamaica was recycling their weeded books – some of which were in great condition. I was furious! I’m sure if they had looked hard enough they would have found a home for those books.
The Haitian people went through a lot last year. They need a little escapism. When I go to the library, it’s not just a place. It’s this magical land full of wonder and adventures. Losing yourself in a book is bliss. My favorite genre right now is urban fantasy. When I escape through these characters the world melts away. It inspires me to bring my own characters to life. That is what we need as a people right now a little inspiration, relief, escape, and fun.
I’ve been sending books to Barbara this year. She lets me know when family or friends are heading to Haiti from the US and I send them books to hand off to her (shipping to Haiti is super pricey so this saves a lot of $$$!). If anyone has suggestions of favorite urban fantasy books, please let me know as it is not my most read genre.
If you are interested in helping out fellow book lovers in Haiti, consider donating to the ALA’s Haiti Library Relief efforts. The ALA is raising funds for three libraries in particular – three libraries which Barbara says “are the lifeblood of Port Au Prince”, offering cultural events and showcases of local artists in addition to lending books. Barbara (and the ALA too) also suggests Better World Books who accept book donations which they then sell and use funds raised towards their education efforts in Haiti.