CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA), acting on a resolution adopted by its Council on Jan. 19 during the ALA’s Midwinter Meeting, has created the “Haiti Library Relief Fund” to collect monetary donations to help rebuild libraries and archives that were destroyed or damaged during the devastating earthquake on Jan. 12. Donations can be made by credit card or check through www.ala.org/haiti.
“ALA has always been receptive to helping after a natural disaster. This fund provides the avenue for our members to do that. It is one way that we can help the Haitian people rebuild their libraries,” said ALA President Camila Alire.
Libraries and archives are especially vital to all societies in helping citizens recover in time of crisis. ALA members and other library supporters have a long history of helping those in need, whether at home or abroad. ALA collected $500,000 in donations to distribute to libraries in the Gulf region after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and worked with other U.S. library associations to raise $25,000 to rebuild libraries in Indonesia and Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami.
ALA will be providing updates through its Web site on the condition of libraries in Haiti and will be coordinating relief and rebuilding efforts with the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield (USCBS) http://www.uscbs.org/ ,the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) www.ifla.org and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) http://portal.unesco.org
ALA is also urging the U.S. government, foundations and others to also provide funding for rebuilding libraries and other cultural institutions in Haiti.
ALA’s involvement in the relief effort began at the Midwinter Meeting in Boston. Recognizing the urgent need to send aid to the victims of this tragic event, ALA joined the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) in asking for support for relief efforts now underway in Haiti.
The MCCA and the ALA set up the MCCA/ALA Relief Fund through Citizens Bank, accepting donations by cash, check or credit card at one of two donation stations located at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
The effort was set up in less than 24 hours by the two groups after the deadly earthquake on Jan. 12. Donations were made by many of the more than 11,000 attendees at the ALA 2010 Midwinter Meeting in Boston over the weekend, and were matched in kind by the MCCA. Massachusetts State Representative Linda Dorcena Forry, the second Haitian-American to be elected to state office in Massachusetts, received the donation on behalf of the local Haitian community.
“Several members of our staff lost family in the earthquake,” said James E, Rooney, Executive Director of the MCCA. “We wanted to respond with immediate humanitarian support, and helping ALA attendees to respond individually doubled these efforts.”
Boston is home to the third largest community of Haitians outside of Haiti. “ALA has a long history of helping libraries rebuild after natural disasters,” said ALA President Dr. Camila Alire. “But being able to donate personally to relief efforts while in Boston has a special poignancy. We are proud to be working with the MCCA in promoting these efforts.”
Below is an interview with Rooney, who talks at length about the relief effort.
And here is Rooney talking about it with Alire.