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This library created under the American occupation in Haiti, continues to operate


The spouses of the American occupiers created this library

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Despite the challenges facing many documentation centers in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, the Library Club of Haiti in Bourdon, in existence for almost a century, continues to welcome book lovers, thus creating a place conducive to development and cultural exchanges.

The initiative began on January 2, 1924, during the military occupation of Haiti by the United States.

Etagère contenant un ensemble d’ouvrages dans le Library Club of Haïti

Shelf containing a set of books in the library .| © Jean Feguens Regala/AyiboPost

At the time, “wives of officers and businessmen from the expedition united to set up the English library,” the current head of the club, Canadian Thomas Adamson, tells AyiboPost.

These ladies, according to the CEO of the brand SAFICO, gave the Club its first books.

Des ouvrages allignes sur l

Books lined up on the shelves.

The Library Club of Haiti, formerly known by various names such as the Cosmopolitan Club and the Colony Club, was established on the grounds of the Officers’ Club of the American Armed Forces.

In 1928, after the privatization of the space by the American government, the site of the Officers’ Club of the American Armed Forces was dubbed the American Club, before becoming what is now known as the Pétion-Ville Club.

It should be noted that The Library Club of Haiti remains a separate entity, operating independently of the Pétion-Ville Club. Although the two structures share the same physical location, they maintain their organizational and operational autonomy.

“We share the same space, but the club has no link with the Pétion-Ville Club or with the American embassy,” explains Thomas Adamson, who has been living in Haiti for around forty years.

Etagère contenant un ensemble d’ouvrages dans la bibliothèque.

Shelf containing a set of books in the library.

Like Damien’s agricultural school, the Library Club of Haiti represents a vestige of the American occupation.

The occupation “is part of our history,” says Adamson. In the library, continues the entrepreneur, “there is a set of works dealing with this period.”

The members of the club, open every second Saturday of the month, meet regularly for lively meetings, combining exchanges, food tasting, joviality and discussions.

The non-profit institution has nearly 3,700 books, a legacy perpetuated over the years thanks to members’ registration fees for the purchase of new books and donations from former members, sometimes residing abroad.

Library Club of Haïti à Bourdon. Un lecteur tenant en main plusieurs ouvrages D’Alexandre Dumas, fils de Thomas Alexandre Dumas originaire de Jérémie.

A reader holding several works by Alexandre Dumas, the son of Thomas Alexandre Dumas from Jérémie.

The insecurity situation in the country has not spared the club which, according to the manager, is observing a drop in the number of members, but also a certain irregularity in its usual weekly activities.

“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the club had almost sixty members, but this figure is now reduced to 35,” regrets Adamson.

Max Laguerre has been frequenting the club assiduously for almost 7 years. He tells AyiboPost that the space nourishes his love of books and provides him with a source of entertainment.

“I am a fervent lover of books, declares Laguerre. This space serves as a refuge for me, offering me access to a wide range of works covering various fields. It is both a source of entertainment, intellectual enrichment and a means of cultivating social ties,” says Laguerre.

It is the same for Stessie Saint-Charles, a business management student who has been part of the club since 2019. “The club is a big family for me, a space for socialization and literary development,” the young lady told AyiboPost.

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By Lucnise Duquereste

English translation by Sarah Jean..

Cover image: Debate and reflection on topics related to the library among visitors.  | © Jean Feguens Regala/AyiboPost

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Journaliste à AyiboPost depuis mars 2023, Duquereste est étudiante finissante en communication sociale à la Faculté des Sciences Humaines (FASCH).