Summary of Impact Study Regarding the Deschapelles Library
Bibliotheque Communaitaire de Deschapelles opened in January 2016 as a collaborative effort between two volunteer organizations, one in Essex, Connecticut, Sister Cities Essex Haiti, (SCEH), and the other in Deschapelles, Haiti, Organization Developpement Economique et Social (ODES). In order to gather information about the potential impact of the library on the community, a simple baseline study was conducted by ODES members and Toby Simon, of Bryant University in the summer of 2014 before the library opened and again in March and summer of 2017 more than one year after the library opened.
2014 Baseline Study
In the summer of 2014, ODES interviewed nine students who they found studying under the street lamps of Hospital Albert Schweitzer and ten students in schools. Each group of students reported that they studied under the street lamps 20-25 days per month for 3-4 hours per night. Half of the students said they did so because there was no electricity in their homes or they could concentrate better under the lights. Approximately half had visited a library before and all of them were excited about the prospect of the library in Deschapelles and thought they would use it for studying, borrowing books, research, and conferences.
Additionally, Toby met with eight focus groups each consisting of between four and 14 participants. The focus groups consisted of male and female students ages 14-22, school directors, ODES members, Hospital Albert Schweitzer employees and members of the community. Toby observed that:
- Everyone was extremely excited about the proposed library and expressed a desire for the library to succeed.
- Most of the participants knew that a library was a good resource for the community and a place to read and borrow books, do research attend educational seminars, and have access to computers.
- Few had ever visited a library with the exclusion of the HAS focus group many of whom have been able to travel to Port au Prince.
- All of the groups envisioned the library helping families, schools and the community; that the library would be a huge benefit for the community and would change peoples’ lives in Deschapelles.
- Many of the participants were quite interested in how the library would function in terms of hours, use of books, obtaining a library card, educational sessions, and safety and security.
In March 2017, Toby visited Deschapelles again and met with four focus groups of mixed gender: 10 high school teachers and three librarians; 10 ODES members; Directors of area schools; and 13 high school students ages 22-30. Toby observed that:
- All members of the focus groups were extremely grateful and positive about the library speaking of it as a “sous riches” (a source for enrichment).
- Many of the students and teachers viewed the library as a place to do research of different topics that they are teaching or studying particularly as the library has many books that are not available in their classrooms.
There were many suggestions:
- Seminars on career opportunities, civic responsibility; sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases;
- Better lighting outside the library and on the road to the library;
- Literacy classes for the community; and
- Suggestion box.
Since many of the members of the focus groups did not have a library card or had not visited the library, it was recommended that SCEH and ODES embark upon a “marketing” campaign to make more people in the community aware of the library and what it means for the members of the community. Ideas include:
- Collaborating with Hospital Albert Schweitzer for librarians to attend some of the mobile health clinics and /or dispensaries to talk about the library and encourage mothers and children to visit the library;
- Outreach to pastors and/or bokors & mambos (Voudou leaders) in the community;
- Work with ODES to be more proactive in encouraging members of the community to visit the library;
- Offer literacy classes to encourage more adults to visit the library.
As of September 2017, the library has reported the following:
- Number of visits per month from January-September 2017: 526-885.
- Average visits per month in 2017: 668
- Number of books: 4,800
- Digital library: 200 books, Wikipeida in French; interactive educational materials
- Number of library members: 250
- Number of presentations per month: Four (theater, astronomy, environment, citizenship, health and sexuality)
- Number of clubs: Five (children’s reading, English language, robotics, literature, needlework)
- Meeting of supervisors of schools: Monthly