Chile’s Binational Center Library

  • Elizabeth N. Steinhagen Humboldt State University
  • María Teresa Herrero Instituto Chileno Norteamericano de Cultura


This paper describes the facilities and services of the United States Information Service (USIS) Binational Center (BNC) Library, established in 1941 in Santiago. The BNCs are autonomous institutions governed by boards of local citizens and employing local staff. There are BNCs in 17 Latin American countries. They often function as local public libraries, presenting a useful model of American library practice. The Santiago BNC has taken a diverse leadership role in Chilean librarianship; it was the first library, for example, to have open stacks, closed circuit TV and radio, and microforms. It now offers to users a wide range of new technology, such as CD–ROMs and online databases. The BNC operates a unique reference service, available in person or by phone to anyone in the country. Resource sharing is another important activity of the Center. One of the authors of the article was an American Library Association Library/Book Fellow at the BNC for seven months; her work in library continuing education is summarized. The Center’s plans for the next several years are outlined.

Author Biographies

Elizabeth N. Steinhagen, Humboldt State University
Elizabeth N. Steinhagen is Serials Catalog Librarian at Humboldt State University, Arcata, California. She was one of the first group of Library/–Book Fellows [see TWL 2–1 at], serving in Chile from September 1987 through March 1988. She was based at the Instituto Chileno Norteamericano de Cultura, in Santiago, the Bi–National Center (BNC).
María Teresa Herrero, Instituto Chileno Norteamericano de Cultura
María Teresa Herrero is Library Director, Instituto Chileno Norteamericano de Cultura, Santiago, Chile. She wrote an article on Chile for the second edition of the ALA World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services.