When we first started researching and designing what is now the Bibliothèque Communautire Deschapelles, we hoped it could be a model for other libraries in rural areas. We worked hard to create a library with the amenities and resources familiar to us in the United States but also with the understanding that this would be a library for the rural community of Deschapelles where many spoke only Kreyol and attending school was a privilege. Our Library administrator, Besly Belizaire, was fortunate to attend a library training course given by FOKAL (the organization founded by the SOROS Foundation which provides support for libraries in Haiti). The Bibliothèque Communautaire Deschapelles now has almost 5000 books many of them in Kreyol and French and programs which have a positive impact on the community including reading programs, digital learning, robotics, literacy, theater and arts. The staff, under the guidance of FOKAL, computerized the collection of books and systematized its membership and lending system essentially bypassing the old card catalogue system. It is one of the best libraries in rural Haiti and others are now looking to it as a model for their projects.
Recently, we were contacted by Sarah Mansbach, who is part of a South Carolina Rotary group that promotes literacy in Haiti, Partners in Literacy in Haiti (PILH), to see if we could help train the staff of two rural libraries which it supports. One of the libraries is in LaChapelles and one in Ravine Seche near Montrouis, both located in the Department of Artibonite. Sarah and her colleague in Haiti, Micaelle Saint-Natus, in conversation with Jenifer Grant who had met Sarah when she ran a library in Cange, discussed how the staff of the Deschapelles library could help their staff cataloguing the collections in their libraries, advising how to engage kids in reading not only to learn but for pleasure, and providing them with information on some of the cultural initiatives at the BCD.
On November 2, 2020, the staff of the Deschapelles Community Library welcomed staff members from the two libraries to a three-day training seminar. In the report provided by Besly Belizaire, the Deschapelles Library Administer, several speakers, including our librarians spoke on such topics such as:
1- Cataloguing (we use a software system called PMB)
2- Addressing the needs of children and young people in part by devoting a section of the library to children and young people
3- How to search for a book on the shelf. Specifically, explaining the different steps necessary to better search for a book
4- The classification of books and the Dewey Decimal System and why it is useful for organizing library resources
5- Circulation: ie distributing the library materials as efficiently as possible
6- Library programming, i.e. how to organize, plan and promote cultural activities at the library,
7- Reception and service: how to welcome users and enhance access to the various services offered by the library
8- Children’s literature, objective: Teaching librarians to distinguish the different types of children’s books, according to level, audience and presentation.
9- Record Keeping
Besly stated that both the BCD library staff and the participants in the seminars enjoyed the program and look forward to an additional seminar in the future.
While the Bibliothèque Communautaire Deschapelles is a larger, more established library and under the umbrella of FOKAL, the relationship established between the libraries could lead to collaboration in the future. We are proud that our staff was able to lead the training and it reflects their achievements since the library first opened. We expect that the training that they will receive during the upcoming Pro Lead Leadership Training will further enhance their capabilities