IFLA in Gothenburg, Day 4: Haitian Librarians Describe Destruction, Acknowledge Assistance
Françoise Beaulieu-Thybulle (left), director of National Library of Haiti, and Elizabeth Pierre-Louis, program director for FOKAL, delivered a moving account of the earthquake devastation in their country.
On January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake turned an ordinary day into a day of horror and destruction for Haiti. On the fourth day of the 76th General Conference and Assembly of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions August 13, in Gothenburg, Sweden, two Haitian librarians came forward to tell their stories and communicate face-to-face with various international organizations and individuals who want to help with the recovery.
Françoise Beaulieu-Thybulle, director of the National Library of Haiti, and Elizabeth Pierre-Louis, program director for FOKAL (French acronym for Foundation for Knowledge and Freedom), spoke poignantly of that dreadful day, and showed a shocking video of the National Library during the quake taken from security cameras inside and outside the library.
The American Library Association has raised and distributed over $20,000 for Haiti relief, but obviously much more is needed. You can donate through ALA on the web.
Other highlights of the conference day included a rousing plenary session with motivational speaker Hans Rosling, whose analysis of the global distribution of wealth led to the prediction of a bright future for libraries. Three to four billion more people will become library users by 2015, he projected. His advice for librarians who want to come out on top in a Google search involved an onscreen search for the three topics people look for most—sex, money, health—with his own website showing up at the top of the search results.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored a forum for representatives from various countries to show off projects underway with foundation funding. The projects all involve internet access but a wide range of approaches, with Latvia demonstrating “Father’s Third Son,” an advocacy effort rooted in folklore, Poland working with the national telecommunications company to increase access in rural areas, Botswana partnering with the national government, Lithuania supporting libraries at the rate of one for every 800 Lithuanians, and Chile’s BiblioRedes delivering services tailored to their users.
I chatted with Deborah Jacobs, director of the Global Libraries Program for the Gates Foundation, and she pointed out that the Access to Learning Award is just 2.4% of the annual grant payout from the program. Frequently asked how to apply for Gates grants, Jacobs told the group that the Access Award is the only one with a formal application process; the others participate by invitation and she is happy to talk with librarians about potential support from the foundation.
U.S. delegate Barbara Ford drew to my attention today to the fact that 2010 is the 20th anniversary of the Women, Information, and Libraries Special Interest Group, which was formed in Sweden at the IFLA conference in Stockholm. To celebrate, the SIG presented a “Global Women’s Fair” at Gothenburg University Library to share best practices “in support of women users and women library and information workers.”