“The Quiet Power of U.S. Trade Relations With Haiti” will be the subject of a talk by former Haitian Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis on Friday, May 7, 2010, at 5:30 p.m. at the John Carter Brown Library. The library also will announce the online archive of rare Haitian books. The event is free and open to the public.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Former Haitian Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis will give a talk, “The Quiet Powers of U.S. Trade Relations With Haiti,” on Friday, May 7, 2010, at 5:30 p.m. at the John Carter Brown Library. The address, open to the public, is part of the annual meeting of the Associates of the John Carter Brown Library.

Pierre-Louis was the second woman to hold this position. Since 1995, she has been the director of the Knowledge and Freedom Foundation, FOKAL, which has prominently focused on education in its work to deepen democracy and development in Haiti.

Since the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, she has been active on a number of fronts to raise awareness of Haiti’s needs. She is the Open Society Institute’s director of reconstruction efforts in Haiti, a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, and an eloquent defender of Haiti’s interests during this crucial moment of rebuilding.

The John Carter Brown Library has one of the world’s great collections of rare books and primary sources relating to Haiti.

Until now, only scholars could view these 1,000 books containing Haiti’s rich history before 1825. According to Edward L. Widmer, director and librarian, the JCB is scanning every rare book in its Haiti collection and making them available online to anyone with an interest in Haiti’s history.

“My fondest hope is that 10-year-old Haitians will see one of these books and start a passion for learning about their country’s history,” Widmer said.

The books about Haiti are being scanned into high-quality color, searchable images. The project is available online at www.archive.org/details/JohnCarterBrownLibrary. The digital archive is made possible by a $100,000 grant by David Rumsey of the JCB’s Board of Governors.

Patrick Tardieu, curator of Haiti’s oldest library, has been a visiting scholar at the JCB since the earthquake and has provided vital assistance in selecting items from the JCB collection for this digital library.

In addition, the JCB has launched a fund called Saving Haiti’s Libraries, for the preservation of rare books and libraries in Haiti.