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Research Summary: The Professional Situation of Libraries in the Rio de La Plata Area

From time to time TWL will publish condensed versions of certain articles submitted to the Editor. In this way a greater number of discussions and investigations will be presented to readers of the journal than would otherwise be possible.

1. The Professional Situation of Librarians in the Rio de la Plata Area

This is the report of a survey, completed in 1991, of librarians in Argentina and Uruguay. Of the 57 persons who replied to a questionnaire, 17 were from Montevideo, the others from various cities in Argentina. The Uruguayans noted that there is full employment for librarians, but that salaries are so low that many professionals need to hold more than one job. Many important positions, for example in the state libraries, have gone unfilled; and smaller libraries do not have any professional staff. Funds for acquisition of materials are inadequate across the Uruguay. There is a lack of governmental interest in libraries — in part because librarians have not been good exponents of their needs — and no national library policy.

In Argentina the salary situation is similar, and librarians often hold several jobs. There is little interest in professional associations and indeed wide discouragement over the dim prospects of libraries. Resources are seen to be inadequate, and there is no national sense of the importance of libraries.

Why was librarianship chosen as a career? The main reason seems to have been shortage of other professional opportunities; but other reasons given were the love of books and a vocation to service. Despite the problems of the library profession, most respondents said they do advise students to become librarians.

The principal satisfaction of library work is said to be the interaction with users. There is also interest in computerization and networking, although not much progress has been made. Library schools are in the process of introducing computer applications, but there remains a traditional emphasis (for example on preparation of catalog cards) in the programs. Continuing education for librarians is scarce, and there is not much attendance at international conferences where new technologies are exhibited and discussed.

In general, the survey results paint a dark picture of the professional situation in Rio de la Plata. One encouraging sign is the possibility of recognition of librarians as professionals, through legislation being considered by the Argentine parliament. Efforts to have similar legislation enacted in Uruguay have so far met with no success.

About the Author

Ricardo Rodríquez Pereyra is Director of the Library at the Instituto y Universidad Torcuato di Tella, Buenos Aires. His library qualification is from the Escuela Universitaria in Montevideo. He did postgraduate work in social sciences at the Instituto y Universidad Torcuato di Tella. Prior to his present position, he was a section chief at the Biblioteca Nacional de Medicina, Uruguay. His publications include Vigencia de Carlos Real da Azua (1987), Carlos Real de Azua: bibliografia (1987),and La vivienda en el Uruguay, 1960–1984: bibliografia (1983). Mr. Pereyra is a frequent speaker at library conferences, on the topics of library technology, professional education, and medical library service.

© 1994, Ricardo Rodríquez Pereyra.


Pereyra, Ricardo Rodríquez. “ Research Summary: The Professional Situation of Librarians in the Rio de La Plata Area” World Libraries, Volume 4, Number 2 (Spring 1994).

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