Open Journal Systems

Foreword Foreword

Chair, Editorial Board

With this issue of World Libraries, Dominican University's Graduate School of Library and Information Science makes available papers focusing on libraries in Cuba. Drawing on the tradition of symposia, this issue presents a collection of opinions on various aspects of its subject. Its appearance was prompted by the agreement of the Cuban delegation to the joint American Library Association/Canadian Library Association 2003 Annual Conference to make their papers available for translation and further dissemination. Please refer to the Introduction for a detailed history of this issue. In addition to the contributions of Cuban librarians, the papers in this issue illustrate the strength of opinions and variety of experiences surrounding Cuba today. Other papers exemplify the growing number of cultural, educational and intellectual exchanges that exist among active professionals throughout the world, including Cuba.

Despite the introduction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor Policy" in the 1930's, economic, political, and cultural relations between the United States and each of the Latin American countries have varied over the years. A notable advance in library relations occurred with the opening of the Benjamin Franklin Library in Mexico City in 1942 and the growth of bi-national center libraries in the 1950's and 1960's. Many of the readers of World Libraries came of age during the 1960s, shortly after the collapse of the government of Fulgencio Batista and the rise to power of President Fidel Castro. The régime change in Cuba which brought Castro to power in 1960, has resulted in strained relations between the countries ever since, and the expulsion of Cuba from the Organization of American States (OAS) meant that Cuba was unable to participate in the OAS Library Development Program (LDP). Furthermore, it has been difficult for American librarians to visit Cuba, to correspond with its professional librarians, or to learn firsthand about the status of Cuban librarianship. Nevertheless, it should be noted that Cuba remained active in other intergovernmental organizations such as UNESCO and non-governmental organizations such as the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Indeed, Havana was the site of the 1994 IFLA Congress, the first time in Latin America.

We want to make clear what this issue of World Libraries is and what it is not. For a variety of reasons (including deadlines for journal publication), it was not possible to create an overall survey of all aspects (e.g., academic, public, school, special libraries) of the contemporary library in Cuba. Rather, this issue is in effect, a number of snapshots of certain aspects of Cuban librarianship in the early twenty-first century. It is not intended to provide an exhaustive survey or in-depth analysis of the development of libraries in Cuba. The totality of this compilation indicates the multiple viewpoints surrounding Cuba and especially its relationship with its neighbor to the north, a relationship that shifts daily as events unfold. Despite the "heat" of some opinions, we hope that this symposium will also provide "light" that will enable the thoughtful reader to appreciate the complexities of the issues and will facilitate the flow of ideas and the engagement of fruitful dialogue. Despite the various limitations enumerated above, we hope that this issue of World Libraries contributes to a better understanding of the contemporary library scene in Cuba. At the same time, we believe it shows that much more needs to be done to ascertain the nature and extent of Cuban-American library relations in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond.

Many persons contributed to this "Cuban issue" of World Libraries, and the editors are grateful to them. To authors we extend our thanks for their patience and understanding as their articles were edited and, in some cases, translated from the Spanish. The authors from Cuba prepared their work for oral presentation at the ALA/CLA conference in Toronto, and this of course created some problems in editing and translating. We express our gratitude to Jane Carpenter for coping so well with these special challenges. Suggestions and help also came from Michael Dowling, director of the ALA Office of International Relations. Finally, a word about the timing of this issue. Given the current nature of the articles, we were anxious to have this number appear as soon as possible, and thus we resisted the temptation to broaden its coverage. Nevertheless, time was lost in the second half of 2004, when questions arose about the effect of the United States government's embargo on intellectual property. Indeed, recent U.S. regulations regarding publication and translation of materials from certain embargoed countries, including Cuba, slowed the appearance of this issue of World Libraries.

During the development phase of this issue, plans to convert World Libraries to a digital open source publication took shape under the guidance of Edward Valauskas, founding editor of First Monday and holder of the Follett Chair in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. He and his students have designed the digital format for World Libraries, available at This issue marked both the last of the print publications and the first of the digital publications of the journal. World Libraries will continue to produce a CD-ROM version for its subscribers in areas where high speed Internet access is not available. The move to open source publication is expected to increase readership and encourage contributions from an even broader community of librarians and scholars throughout the world. As well, this issue is my last as Chair of the Editorial Board. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to work with World Libraries authors, outgoing Editor Johan Koren, Managing Editor Linda Vertrees and Consulting Editor William V. Jackson. The GSLIS faculty have provided guidance and direction, as well as reviewing manuscripts and books for publication. Mary Wagner will be the Editor for the next issue. I am very excited about the evolution of World Libraries in its new format, and look forward to its future growth and vitality.

© 2005 Prudence W. Dalrymple


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