(Spanish Language Abstract of Article Below)
Educadores latinoamericanos en el área de bibliotecología y ciencia de la informacíon se reunieron durante los días 14 y 15 de noviembre en la Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR), en San Juan, para discutir asuntos de interés mutuo y para explorar la viabilidad de un proyecto de educación a distancia en la región. La reunión titulada “Encuentro de Educadores Latinoamericanos en el Area de Bibliotecología y Ciencia de la Información” fue organizada por las escuelas de bibliotecología y ciencia de la información de las universidades de Puerto Rico y Carolina del Sur. Fue auspiciada por la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) y la Fundación de Puerto Rico. Hubo representación de los siguientes países: Argentina, Brasil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, España, Estados Unidos, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, República Dominicana, Uruguay, y Venezuela.
Los participantes discutieron sobre la situación de la educación para profesionales de la información en sus respectivos países y en cada una de sus escuelas, en particular, enfatizando en los siguientes aspectos: matrícula, facultad, literatura profesional, uso de las tecnologías de la información, necesidades y problemas específicos de sus programas.
Representantes de la escuela de Carolina del Sur hicieron una presentación sobre su program de educación a distancia, el cual utiliza circuito cerrado de televisión dentro de ese estado y transmisión via satélite para áreas fuera del estado. Discuterion las posibles oportunidades y problemas que podría confrontar un proyecto come este in Latinoamérica y el Caribe.
La reunión concluyó con las siguientes resoluciones:
On 14‑15 November 1993 library science educators from 12 Latin American countries, plus Puerto Rico, Spain, and the United States, met at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan to discuss areas of mutual interest in education for librarianship and to explore the potential for distance education in that region. Entitled “Encounter of Latin American Educators of Library and Information Science,” the meeting was organized by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and the College of Library and Information Science of the University of South Carolina. Grants from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Puerto Rico Foundation supported travel and per diem for the Latin American participants and simultaneous translation, while the University of Puerto Rico provided local facilities.
Representatives from the following countries attended: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
This report of the conference consists of three parts, corresponding to the three sessions: (1) country reports on library and information science education; (2) the potential for distance education in the region; and (3) general discussion and recommendations.
Country Reports on Library and Information Science Education
The meeting opened with the participants reporting on the current status of library and information science education in their home countries and in their own schools. Each report described enrollment, faculty, use of professional literature in teaching, use of information technology, and any specific problems and needs of the program. These reports are summarized below by country:
Professor Susana Romanos de Tiratel, director of the program at the Dept. de Bibliotecología y Documentación, University of Buenos Aires, reported on the status of the school, which has both undergraduate and graduate programs in library science and an associate degree in publishing. Approximately 600 students are enrolled in the undergraduate program and about 200 in the master’s program. The school has a faculty of 20 who offer a wide variety of courses for all types of librarians, information scientists, and teaching faculty. A computer lab with more than 20 PCs, CD‑ROMs, and automation software is available for student use. The major problems of the school are: low enrollment; recruiting professors who are current in the profession; and limited availability of texts and other professional literature in Spanish.
Dr. Antônio Miranda of the Escola de Biblioteconomia y Documentaçao, Universidade de Brasília, and a visiting professor at the University of Puerto Rico for Fall, 1993, reported on the general status of library and information science education in Brazil. He noted that library education, which dates to 1916 in the country, has been heavily influenced by both British and American trends. There are 31 library and information science schools in the country. Thirty of these offer undergraduate programs and six offer graduate programs, with three including a Ph.D. program. The school in Brasília was founded in 1962; its first offering was an undergraduate program in library science, followed by a graduate program in 1976 and the doctoral program in information science in 1993. Enrollment in the school is about 30 students per year, with a faculty of 19m of which 15 have Ph.D. degrees. Major problems: early retirement of faculty due to a recent government regulation; the undergraduate program is regulated by the Ministry of Education which makes curriculum revision painfully slow; because of financial constraints, the development of library collections has been severely affected; professional literature in Portuguese is abundant but not sufficient for modern needs.
Professor Texia Iglesias, of the Escuela de Bibliotecología, Universidad Technológica Metropolitana, Santiago, reported on her school, which was founded in the 1940s under the influence of American librarianship. It has six full‑time and 26 part‑time professors and the undergraduate program has 186 students. Since 1992, a certificate in library management (post‑baccalaureate) has been offered. Major problems: low enrollment and inadequate understanding by the general public—as well as the government—of the relationship between information needs and the role of the librarian.
Professor Moisés Pedraza, director of the program at the Departmento de Ciencia de la Información, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Educación, Pontífica Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, reported on this program. It is at the undergraduate level and lasts 10 semesters. The program is over 20 years old and has a faculty of 15 with a student enrollment of 85. The curriculum is organized around three areas: communication, analysis, and creativity. These areas are subdivided into the nature and structure of knowledge, the organization of information, and the demand for and access to information. Courses are grouped around the above areas and efforts are made to revise the curriculum every four years. Major problems: low profile of information professionals as perceived by the general public has affected the enrollment as well as further development of the program.
Professor Martha Medina, Universidad de Quindío, reported on a distance education program that the university offers for both library science and archival science at the undergraduate level. Enrollment is 125 students and the program takes 10 semesters to complete. These programs have been developed for a region which has only five professional librarians but more than 500 libraries. Students are organized in working teams of three to five people and tutorial support is provided via phone and email. Classes are delivered through audio and video tapes, and extensive self‑instructional printed modules are distributed to each student. Major problems: limited knowledge of new information technologies; lack of financial support for the acquisition of library resources; many professional librarians are not confident of the quality of this distance education program.
Professor Benilda Salas, director of the Escuela de Bibliotecología y Ciencias de la Información, Facultad de Educación, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, noted that Costa Rica has two schools of library and information science. Her school has a faculty of 10 full‑time and 10 part‑time professors for an undergraduate program with 350 students, most of whom study part‑time. The program lasts for eight semesters. A graduate program is currently in the planning stage. Major problems: faculty development has been affected by their unwillingness to go abroad for further education; lack of computer equipment; insufficient continuing education for their faculty.
Professor Lucero Arboleda de Roa, director of the library at the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC), pointed out the absence of formal library and information science education in the country. She noted that most of the library professionals have been educated abroad, particularly in Colombia and Puerto Rico. For a few years there was an undergraduate program in library science in the country, but it had serious quality control problems. INTEC is currently planning to start an undergraduate program for library assistants, with strict standards of academic excellence. She noted that Marisol Florén, who has just completed her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, would shortly be taking responsibility for developing the new program. Florén was in attendance at the conference and spoke briefly of her hopes for the new program.1 Major problems: a general lack of awareness of the role and importance of librarians; education, at all levels, and health are specific sectors which need trained library personnel.
Dr. Ricardo Cañizares, director of the library at the Universidad Católica de Guayaquil, reported on the general situation regarding library science in the country. A program at his university is offering library and archival education at the undergraduate level. Data about faculty and enrollment were not provided. A nationwide survey showed that only 30% of the personnel at academic libraries have college degrees. Among this group, only 37% have formal education in library science. Continuing education is critical in such areas as automation of information services, creation and maintenance of databases, cataloging, classification, and indexing. Major problems: lack of all kind of resources; outdated education; a curriculum which does not satisfy the needs of the field; low minimum wages for librarians.
Professor Elsa M. Ramírez, director of the Centro Universitario de Investigaciones Bibliotecológicas (CUIB), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), reported on library education in the country in general and specifically at her institution. At present, Mexico has seven undergraduate and two graduate programs. The undergraduate program usually lasts for eight semesters while the graduate programs last three to four semesters. All of these programs used to be very European‑centered but recently there is an orientation toward American approaches. The demand for information professionals is very high and private institutions are hiring librarians at very good salaries. This factor, however, has had a negative impact on the development of more graduate programs because students do not want to undertake additional study beyond job requirements. Major problems: librarians with undergraduate degrees and limited experience are hired for high‑level jobs for which they are often unprepared, which affects the professional image when they perform poorly; because of low salaries for faculty, there is limited availability of full‑time professors.
Professor Helen Ladrón Guevara, assistant to the chancellor for library development at the Universidad de Guadalajara, pointed out the achievements of an undergraduate program at her university, which began in 1981. It was closed in 1986 but will be replaced by a new program that is scheduled to start in 1994. Major problems: there is a lack of full‑time professors and a lack of standards for evaluating faculty performance; national library and information science research and publications are very limited; there is no accrediting agency for educational programs.
Professor Conny Méndez Rojas, director of the central library at the Universidad Centroamericana, Managua, reported on formal library education in the country, which began in 1975 with undergraduate programs at the national university in León and at the Universidad Centroamericana in Managua. By 1978, 24 librarians had graduated from these programs and there are currently 115 students in them. In 1990 the library science program at Managua was integrated into the College of Communication Sciences. Major problems; low salaries for graduates have contributed to a constant decline in enrollment in both programs; the national economic crisis has created a situation that will likely lead to the closing of the library science programs within the next year.
Professor Victor U. Mendieta, director of the Departmento de Bibliotecología, Facultad de Humanidades, Universidad de Panamá, reported on library education in the country, noting that it began as a summer program in 1924. The undergraduate program at his institution has a faculty of 20 (including eight part‑time). Enrollment is 153 students in library science and 286 in archival science. The library science curriculum comprises 36 courses, and the archival program has 30 courses. The latest curriculum revision was in 1986. Major problems: limited computer and physical facilities; need for continuing education; need for more research in the field.
Dr. Purificación Moscoso, Professor in the Diplomatura de Biblioteconomía y Documentación, Universidad Carlos III, Madrid, explained that formal library education in Spain began in Barcelona in 1915. It was only in 1982, however, that the profession of librarian was officially certified by the government. At present there are eight schools of library and information science in the country. The program at her institution has 34 full‑time and part‑time professors with an enrollment of 474 students in the undergraduate program and 34 in the graduate program. The school, which is one of three newer ones in the country, is supported by the local government of Madrid as well as by private firms in the area. Physical facilities, including library resources and computer equipment, are exceptionally good and access is available to a wide variety of national and foreign databases. Major problems: only in Catalonia is a library degree required in order to be hired as a librarian so the demand and supply, as well as the current status of the labor market for information professionals, is unknown; limited availability of texts and other professional literature in Spanish.
Professor Cristina Peréz Giffoni, of the Escuela de Bibliotecología y Ciencias Afines, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, reported that her school is the only one in this country of three million population. The program began in 1943 and currently has a faculty of 43 (including part‑time) and an enrollment of about 180. The school offers two undergraduate programs, one in library science and one in archival science. The curriculum includes 30 courses and one research project. The most recent curriculum revision was in 1987. The program has emphasized areas such as the social aspect of libraries, information technology, and research. Major problems: high percentage of dropouts; absence of a national information policy; limited opportunities for faculty development; limited bibliographic resources.
Professor Juan Carlos de Agostini, coordinator of the Postgrado en Estudios de la Información, Universidad Simón Bolívar, reported on the three graduate programs in the country. The Universidad Central program emphasized public libraries, Universidad Católica focuses on information services, and Simón Bolívar on information science. The Simón Bolívar program includes 11 courses, a master’s thesis, and a practicum. The program can be completed in four trimesters. It has a faculty of 12 and a student enrollment of 30. Physical facilities and computer resources are considered adequate. Major problems: professors with Ph.D. degrees are very badly needed but few are available in the country.
Library and Information Science Distance Education: Potential for Latin America and the Caribbean
One of the major purposes of the conference was to explore the potential for utilizing distance education techniques and technologies in the region. In order to prepare the participants for this discussion, two presentations were made. The first was by Lauri Hermann and Gayle Sykes of the University of South Carolina, which has had extensive experience in offering master’s coursework in library and information science. Fred Roper, dean of the College of Library and Information Science, and Robert V. Williams, a faculty member in the college, made additional remarks and responded to questions about the distance education program. The second presentation, by Mariano A. Maura, was based on his Fall, 1993 informal survey of the technological capabilities that conference participants had for participating in televised satellite broadcasts at their home institutions.
The presentation made by Hermann and Sykes was an extended version of the shorter paper they presented at the Sixth International Conference on New Information Technology, held in San Juan on November 11‑13, 1993.  The College of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina has been involved in televised distance education since 1982 when it began offering courses over the statewide ITFS (Instructional Television Fixed Service), a combination microwave and land lines service. In 1992, it began satellite broadcast of courses to the states of West Virginia and Georgia, where approximately 150 students are enrolled in a master’s degree program. Since 1982 the college has offered more than 30 different courses via distance education, averaging about two each semester. Generally, courses are of two types: live interactive broadcast and pre‑taped video instruction. The live interactive courses are broadcast from a studio on campus (usually with on‑campus students in the studio) and distant students view at one of many authorized viewing sites in South Carolina, Georgia, and West Virginia. Students at any viewing site are able to ask questions of the instructor while the class is in progress, by calling a toll‑free phone number, and receive an answer to their questions. Textbooks, syllabi, assignments, and other materials are mailed to the students before the class sessions. Pre‑taped video courses are not done interactively but students are provided with a toll‑free number for ease in contacting the instructor. All distance education courses require at least two separate four‑to‑six‑hour on‑campus (or other site) meetings during which the instructor administers exams, oral reports are presented, group discussions are held, or other kinds of interaction are done with students.
During the ten‑year period that the college has been offering courses via distance education, many South Carolina students have taken most of their coursework for the master’s degree in this manner. The West Virginia and Georgia programs will be offered almost entirely by televised distance education with a few combination broadcast and on‑site intensive courses. (The university has no on‑campus residence requirement.) When the policy was developed for the distance education program the faculty decided to adopt the following principles: all faculty would participate in distance education; all distance education courses would be taught as regular load; and TV courses (where enrollment tends to be higher than for on‑campus courses) would be alternated with regular course load. These decisions have helped to alleviate teaching load problems, have given useful experience to all the faculty, and have provided variety in course offerings.
Distance education via television has both advantages and disadvantages. The major advantage is to the students who are able to complete all or most of their master’s degree work relatively close to home or work, thus saving on commuting time and expense, and maintaining work and home life. All distance education courses cost in‑state students the same as on‑campus courses so there are no extra expenses for tuition and fees; out‑of‑state students pay a different rate that matches out‑of‑state tuition charges. The college has also benefitted since enrollment has increased dramatically for both on‑ and off‑campus courses. Since the program began in 1982, credit hours generated have increased 200% and both full‑time and part‑time student enrollment has grown dramatically.
There are disadvantages as well as problems and frustrations for the faculty and administration in distance education. Our major areas of concern, which the faculty continues to work on, are:
The faculty of the college remains committed to distance education. Fortunately, it has two allies that give tremendous assistance in maintaining that commitment. The Office of Distance Education provides some assistance in course development, teaching techniques, copying and mailing of course materials, registration, and preparation of specialized materials (e.g., production of pre‑taped video inserts such as book talks or historical original productions, copyright clearance for materials used via TV, pre‑taped panel interviews) used in a course. The Instructional Services Center does the actual studio broadcast direction, prepares specialized materials (such as slides or computer software) for class use, advises on ways to present materials, and, in general, gives expert advice to faculty on how to do a professional TV presentation.
The faculty of the college continually evaluates both individual distance education courses as well as the overall effectiveness of the program. These assessments include course evaluations, retention studies, comparisons of grade ranges for different groupings of students (e.g., by state, by full‑time vs. part‑time, by academic standing), alumni opinion surveys, and overall student satisfaction with the program. These evaluations lead to continuing adjustment and revision of individual courses as well as the overall master’s program. Comparisons are made with other library and information science distance education programs in the US, a process which is facilitated by the existence of the Library and Information Science Distance Education Consortium (LISDEC), which is currently headquartered at the college and coordinated by Daniel Barron. 
Results of Survey of Schools in Latin America
In October, 1993, shortly before the conference, Mariano Maura sent to all conference invitees a short and informal questionnaire regarding their potential and current use of technology as it related to distance education and other forms of communication. As part of the survey, some additional questions were asked regarding the size of the school in terms of faculty and student body. These results are presented below and represent the responses of 19 programs in 12 different countries.
For these 19 programs, 10 had satellite receiving capacity, 18 had fax receiving capacity, and 15 had INTERNET connections. Even though 11 of the 12 countries were member nations of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT), only four of the programs reported that their institutions participated in INTELSAT programming. When asked whether their institutions participated in any kind of distance education programs (by any means), seven responded affirmatively and three reported that they had undertaken studies specifically examining how they could do a distance education program in library and information science. Only one program (see discussion under Colombia country reported above) was actively involved in doing distance education.
|Descriptive Data on Size of Latin American Library and Information Science Programs|
|SIZE OF FACULTY||PROGRAMS|
|Number of Faculty||Number of Programs|
|SIZE OF STUDENT BODY||PROGRAMS|
|Undergraduates||Number of Programs|
|Graduate Students||Number of Programs|
Following the presentations by Hermann and Sykes on distance education and Maura on the survey of distance education technology potential, a brief presentation was made by Prudence Dalrymple, Director of the Office of Accreditation of the American Library Association (ALA). Dalrymple discussed the role of ALA in accreditation, noted the existence of the new (1992) standards for accreditation, and indicated the interest that the association has in distance education programs as a method of delivery of library and information science education. She noted that the University of Puerto Rico School of Library and Information Science is the only ALA‑accredited program in the Latin American and Caribbean region, and she expressed interest in working with other schools in the region which may want to be accredited by ALA.
Summary and Conclusions
The major portion of the afternoon session on Monday was spent discussing what kinds of actions could be taken to work together towards resolving the problems of library education in a region that had been identified and to take advantage of the opportunities presented by distance education. The participants were unanimous in their judgment that the meeting was invaluable in helping them get to know each other, to learn about other programs in the region, and, particularly, to show them that they shared many common problems that could be approached in a cooperative manner. This judgment was most keenly felt after a brief presentation by William V. Jackson, of the library schools at Rosary College and the University of Texas.  Prof. Jackson reflected on his more than 30 years of experience as a library and information science educator (some of it in Latin American programs), as a library consultant in the region, and as a scholar of Latin American library development, by making the following points:
Jackson’s comments raised the question of the viability of the currently existing, but not well‑known, Associación Latinoamericana de Escuelas de Bibliotecologia y Ciencia de la Información (ALEBCI) and whether it could be used as the organizational umbrella under which to continue cooperation and development. The work of other associations that exist in the region (such as the Association of Caribbean University and Research Libraries—ACURIL) was discussed and it was agreed that they needed to be informed of these discussions and involved in future meetings. It was also noted that Brazil has an extensive bibliographic database of Portuguese library and information science literature and that Mexico is in the process of creating an extensive one of Spanish‑language materials. The availability of these databases needs to be explored and ways found to make them, and the actual materials, accessible to all educators and librarians in the region.
After the extensive discussion of needs and priorities, the meeting concluded with the following resolutions, and assignment of responsibility for carrying them out, for work over the next year:
Conference participants agreed to work toward the realization of these resolutions and to begin to seek funding to help bring them about. An assessment will be made of progress at the meeting in 1994 in Guadalajara, Mexico.
1 Florén’s article on scientific research in the Dominican Republic appeared in TWL 3‑1 (Fall 1992).
1. Lauri L. Hermann and Gayle D. Sykes, “Technology’s Promise for Extended Library and Information Science Education,” in: Proceedings: NIT ’93: 6th International Conference New Information Technology ... November 11‑13, 1993 ... Puerto Rico. Edited by Ching‑chih Chen (West Newton, Mass. : Micro‑Use Information, 1993, pp. 145‑151).
2. “LISDEC: The Library and Information Science Distance Education Consortium.” Pamphlet, available free from Daniel Barron, University of South Carolina, College of Library and Information Science, Columbia, SC 29208 U.S.A.
3. See Third World Libraries 3‑1 (Fall, 1992), edited by William V. Jackson, and his Aspects of Librarianship in Latin America (privately printed, 1992, 258 pp.), for additional information on Latin American library development.
About the Author
Mariano A. Maura is Associate Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Puerto Rico; earlier he held several positions in the university library. His M.L.S. is from the University of Pittsburgh. Systems analysis and online searching are among his professional interests.
Robert V. Williams is Associate Professor, College of Library and Information Science, University of South Carolina. Prior positions included management of record services for the Ford Foundation, and Archivist for the State of Georgia. His Ph.D. is from the University of Wisconsin‑Madison. Dr. Williams has numerous publications in his fields of interest, special libraries, international information sources, and records management.
© 1993 Dominican University
Maura, Mariano A. and Robert V. Williams, “Conference on Library Education in Latin America” Third World Libraries, Volume 4, Number 1 (Fall 1993).