It has not been easy. As our colleagues who specialize in foreign and comparative law know well, few libraries have access to the official gazettes of any of the civil law countries. Moreover, those few that do have some of these titles often hold only partial runs. So we knew from the start that assembling a full, online run of the gazette for a poor country like Haiti would be a challenge. The formal title for Haiti’s official gazette is Le Moniteur; Journal Officiel de la Republique D’Haiti. It started publication in 1844. This means that our target run spans 169 years.


Over the past four years LLMC has acquired access to portions of the title from four law libraries: Columbia, LC, Michigan, and Tulane. By merging their incomplete runs we were able to assemble full volumes for 34 years and partial volumes for another 9. This is a worthy start to be sure. But, at only 22% of goal, it’s woefully short of a full run. It was starting to look like this project was going to involve a very long and tedious trek.


Then, in late August of last year, things took a remarkable turn for the better when a wonderful opportunity surfaced. It was then that we got our first inkling that the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince was downsizing its library and was prepared to donate a very substantial run of Le Moniteur to a “responsible public repository.” We could hardly believe our good luck. The embassy’s run is complete from 1 Jan. 1900 to 31 Dec. 1999; 100 years covering close to half of Haiti’s history as an independent nation.


Of course, actually making the donation happen took a tad of bureaucratic maneuvering.[1] The U.S. State Department had its own idea of what constituted a “responsible public repository.” It passed on several early institutional candidates. The scheme that eventually passed muster will work out as follows. The full 100-year run of Le Moniteur will be donated via a property grant from the State Department Office of Public Diplomacy to the Tulane University’s Law Library.[2] Tulane has committed to guaranteeing the paper’s permanent preservation, its perpetual access to scholars, and the loan of all needed volumes to LLMC for scanning purposes. This latter will ensure that the full run can be offered to the world online via LLMC-Digital and the Digital Library of the Caribbean.


It is anticipated that the embassy books will be shipped directly to Tulane Law Library in the next few months. After receipt and pro-cessing, the necessary gap-filler volumes will be shipped to LLMC in Hawaii for careful step-and-repeat scanning. Judging from the quality of the paper in the volumes that we received from the four libraries that helped us assemble our current partial run, we anticipate that the full scanning project will go slowly and will last at least through 2014, and perhaps into the following year.


In conclusion, and on behalf of all the LLMC member libraries, we would like to express our sincere thanks to the many people, only some of whom we could mention above, who made this wonderful opportunity materialize and come to fruition.

[1] The hero in these negotiations was Jeremy Lam-beth, then a ICT Specialist working in Haiti for ICATT Consulting Inc, of Wash., D.C.. Jeremy has since moved on to become a candidate for a Mas-ter’s Degree in Sustainable Development at the Univ. of Florida’s Center for African and Latin American Studies. He was the essential mediator between Michael Macy, Counselor for Public Affairs at the Port-au-Prince embassy; Brooke Wooldridge, Program Dir., Digital Library of the Caribbean, Florida International Univ. Libraries; and LLMC.

[2] The footwork at Tulane was deftly executed by James Duggan, Law Lib. Dir.; who got his dean, David D. Meyer, to write a compelling letter for-mally making the requisite commitments. Tulane proved an especially attractive candidate for State Department consideration because of  the geogra-phic, historic, and economic links between New Orleans and the Caribbean region; and uniquely with Haiti’s predecessor, the French Colony of St.-Domingue. Having these materials available at the Law Library will also be of significance to faculty and researchers at Tulane’s distinguished Stone Center for Latin American Studies. The latter institution will find the Le Moniteur run to be a valuable supplement to its existing store of Haitian and Kreyòl materials, which is housed in Tulane’s main University Library, less than a block away from the Law School.