FIU, The Digital Library of the Caribbean and the Green Family Foundation announce new exhibit: “Haiti: An Island Luminous”

A new partnership between the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) and the Green Family Foundation (GFF) will enable the completion of a one-of-a-kind exhibit that provides a free, online experience that walks users through the complex and often understudied history of Haiti, from the Arawak indigenous groups through the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier. 

“Haiti: An Island Luminous” features contributions from current scholars and students, excerpts from past publications, and direct links providing free access to books, manuscripts and newspapers, joining expert commentary and original documents to introduce users to 500 years of Haitian history. 

dLOC and GFF will formally announce “Haiti: An Island Luminous” on Thursday, February 17, 2011 following a film screening of “Égalité for All:  Investing in Haiti’s Cultural Heritage,” at The Little Haiti Cultural Center, 260 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, from 6 to 9 p.m.

According to Laura Probst, dean of the Florida International University Libraries, which administers dLOC in conjunction with the FIU Latin American and Caribbean Center: “Haiti’s history has been intertwined with our history since the discovery of the New World, but geography and language have been barriers to exploration of the similarities and confluences in our histories. We are pleased that this exhibit will be a vehicle for exposing students to Haiti’s rich history and culture.”

In most history classes in the United States, Haiti’s history is often neglected. The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) has been working to make Caribbean history more accessible since 2005 through collaboration with many partner institutions in the region. dLOC partners in Haiti include the National Archives in Haiti, National Library of Haiti and the Fathers of the Holy Spirit Library at the Collége Saint Martial and all have worked for decades to preserve and make Haiti’s history more available.  The need for this exhibit was underscored by the need to address the tragic earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010.

“Haiti: An Island Luminous is a vital platform highlighting Haiti’s rich cultural heritage and contributions to the world stage,” said Kimberly Green, president of The Green Family Foundation. “We are proud to partner with FIU and dLOC to establish institutionalized memory, and, in working with Haitians, to ‘build back better’ through cultural competency and elevating the importance of Haitian patrimony.”

“The visionary project, “Haiti: An Island Luminous” began with a small amount of seed money from FIU’s Latin American and Caribbean Center and FIU Libraries and time donated by FIU Ph.D. student, Adam Silvia.  The generous support of the Green Family Foundation will take the project to a new level and enhance its impact and extend its reach across communities in the US and throughout the hemisphere,” said Liesl Picard, Associate Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center at FIU. 

The exhibit, in English, French and Haitian Creole, will cover five centuries of Haitian history in more than 170 interactive slides.  The slides will link directly to full text resources already available in the Digital Library of the Caribbean with a navigational toolbar that will allow users to explore Haiti’s history by time period.

The Digital Library of the Caribbean is administered by the Latin American and Caribbean Center and Libraries at FIU and technologically supported by the University of Florida Libraries.  The project is currently funded, with limited provisions, by the U.S. Department of Education’s Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA) Program. dLOC currently hosts more than 10,000 titles with more than one million pages; 10 percent of the titles and 20 percent of the items relate to Haiti. dLOC provides access to a wide variety of resources in Dutch, English, French, Haitian Creole, Papiamento, Portuguese, and Spanish, and includes books, journals and newspapers; maps; photographs; and three dimensional objects, as well as multi-media.

Media Contact:  Jean-Paul Renaud at 305-348-2716.