Colonised by the Spanish and then the French until its successful revolution and independence in 1804, Haiti plays an important role within Francophone literature. However, it still bears the traces of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake (which claimed between 100,000 and 300,000 lives), followed by an extended period of political uncertainty and upheaval. This was further aggravated by the 2016 Hurricane Matthew (which, though less lethal, left 175,000 people homeless). This series of disasters has meant that at Cambridge University Library, sourcing books published in Haiti has been challenging. Over several years, our regional supplier Libros Latinos was not able to travel to the country. However, as is often the case for Francophone literature, many Haitian authors are also published in Canada and France, whether they are still residing in Haiti or have emigrated.
One example is the writer and publisher Rodney Saint-Éloi, born in Haiti, who founded the publishing house Mémoire, as well as the magazine Cultura and the journal Boutures. He moved to Québec in 2001, is a member of the Académie des Lettres du Québec, and in 2003 created the publishing house Mémoire d’encrier, based on the principle of cultural diversity:
Mémoire d’encrier publie des auteur.e.s québécois.e.s, autochtones, antillais.e.s, arabes, africain.e.s… représentant ainsi une large plate-forme où se confrontent les imaginaires dans l’apprentissage et le respect de la différence et de la diversité culturelle.Continue reading →
CAIRN is a Francophone online platform originally founded by four French and Belgian publishers: Belin, De Boeck, La Découverte and Erès, focusing on social sciences and humanities periodicals. More recent partners include the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the University of Liège and the Centre National du Livre. In the past few years, especially since COVID (when the platform offered the library free access to all their ebooks for the month of May 2020), we started acquiring CAIRN ebooks, as well as receiving statistics about our readers’ attempts to access ebook titles on the platform.
Based on these information, and in order to continue diversifying the range of French and Francophone material available to our readers, while also taking into account the pricing of the ebooks, we recently made a bulk purchase of more than 200 titles selected from the Cairn catalogue, including both new and older publications that we did not already have in print. Members of Cambridge University Library now have access to about 450 CAIRN ebooks titles, available through Raven, either on iDiscover, or directly on the CAIRN platform and other websites, if you use the Lean library plugin. We are now in the process of upgrading online catalogue records for the newly acquired ebooks, which includes adding subject headings. Continue reading →
The past year, with its challenges of library closures and restriction of movement, has highlighted for us all the importance of remote accessibility to library collections and the benefits of e-resources. Traditionally, French-language ebooks have been harder for institutions like the UL to procure, as our established ebook suppliers primarily focus on English-language material. Most French publishers individually provide their own online resources without institutional access, and where ebooks are made available they are often unfeasibly more expensive to purchase than the print equivalent. As a result, the UL’s French-language acquisitions, up to now, have had to rely heavily on printed editions.
In the last month, however, French book supplier ‘Amalivre’ has launched its own ebooks platform, offering a wide selection of material from over 70 publishers, such as L’Harmattan, Honoré Champion and CNRS! All of the available publications currently permit unlimited readers to access them at once and from anywhere in the world, provided the user is logged into iDiscover.