Posted by: universallearningcentreblog | January 23, 2011

One Year and 25,000 Books Later by Dana M. Jean


Before the Books Arrived

In December, 2010, exactly one month before the horrific earthquake, and after several years of planning and a lifetime of dreaming, our first library, located in Pilate, Haiti, opened its doors.  The event was emotional and long-awaited.  We almost didn’t notice the empty shelves as we looked at the newly installed, Haitian-made furniture.  We almost didn’t notice that the library itself is very, very small.  For just a few moments, we were intoxicated seeing our dream finally materialized.

The intoxication was short-lived, although we still periodically catch a wave of that high and I for one, still get butterflies in my stomach thinking of how far we’ve come.   But about 2 minutes after arriving back in the States, Jacques realized that his efforts to secure books (in French, nonetheless) needed to be amped up significantly.  Till then, he and the ULC team had been focusing primarily on funding the rental of a facility and furnishing the location.  He had had a few leads on books and had feelers out to several organizations that seemed like possible good fits, but now he had to step it up.  So, upon arriving back in the States, Jacques and the crew got back to work.

A year later, our empty shelves are now overflowing and can’t hold the nearly 26,000 books donated by the Parliament Foundation of Quebec.  We have shelved as many as possible, shared some books with the local schools, and left some in boxes until a time when we have a larger, more permanent facility.  Talk about a dramatic “after” photo!


One year and 25,000 books later

The following photos will, I hope, give you an idea of how different our library is now.  And, as you might guess, after arriving back to the States from the trip to receive and unload the books, Jacques was right back to the drawing board, trying to figure out how and where to build a larger, permanent structure.  He spent just a few moments allowing himself to enjoy the intoxication of having accomplished yet another step in the process to bring a fully functioning, state of the art library and resource center to his hometown.

makeshift shelves
Makeshift Shelves



Computer Station


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