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A New Alliance: The Association of Latin American National Libraries (ABINIA) A New Alliance: The Association of Latin American National Libraries (ABINIA)

 Abstract — Inglés

When the director of national libraries in Latin America, the Spanish–speaking Caribbean, Spain, and Portugal met in 1988 to discuss materials for a quincentennial exhibit, they realized that their libraries would benefit greatly from closer, ongoing groups cooperation. A year later, the Association of National Libraries of Iberoamerica (ABINIA), with 21 member libraries at present, came into being. The author sets forth the main objectives of ABINIA, which include preserving, publicizing, and making accessible the collections of the national libraries; standardizing and automating technical services to facilitate exchange of information and materials; and linking the national libraries to other libraries and information networks. Working to put these objectives into practice, ABINIA celebrated the quincentennial with an important exhibit of national bibliographic treasures. ABINIA has also begun computerizing a union catalog of member holdings from the 16th to the 18th century and has initiated a project to identify, preserve, and microfilm rare and historically important materials.

 Abstract — Español

Una nueva alianza: la Asociación de Bibliotecas Nacionales de Iberoamérica (ABINIA)
Cuando los directores de las bibliotecas nacionales de Latino América, el Caribe hispano parlante, España y Portugal se reunieron en 1988 a discutir los materiales para una exibición quingentésimo, se dieron cuenta que sus bibliotecas podrían obtener beneficio mayor de un grupo más cercano y permanente de cooperación. Un año después, la Asociación de Bibliotecas Nacionales de Iberoamérica (ABINIA), que cuenta actualmente con 21 bibliotecas miembros, empezó a existir.

La autora establece los principales objetivos de ABINIA, que incluyen conservar, dar publicidad y hacer accesible las colecciones de las bibliotecas nacionales; el establecimiento de medidas homogéneas de servicios técnicos automatizados para facilitar el intercambio de la información y los materiales; y ligando las bibliotecas nacionales a otras bibliotecas y redes de información. ABINIA celebró el quingentझsimo poniendo en práctica estos objetivos con una exhibición importante de los tesoros bibliográficos nacionales. ABINIA ha también iniciado la computarización de un catálogo colectivo de las colecciones de los miembros de los siglos XVI al XVIII y ha iniciado así mismo un proceso para identificar, preservar y reproducir en micropelícula los documentos raros e históricos de mayor importancia.

At the end of 1988 the National Library of Spain, with the cooperation of the Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez and the Sociedad Estatal para la Ejuceción de Programas del Quinto Centenario (State Society for the Execution of Quincentennial Projects), called a meeting of the directors of the national libraries of Latin America (including the Spanish–speaking Caribbean and Portugal) to consider their bibliographic treasures, so that they could identify titles to be presented in an exposition to take place in Madrid in 1992 celebrating the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in America.

This first contact and the response from some of the directors to the Spanish proposal to establish closer and permanent ties with Latin American library institutions created a very favorable climate for establishing the Association of Latin American National Libraries (Asociación de Bibliotecas Nacionales de Iberoamérica, ABINIA). The preliminary plan to create the future association was analyzed and supported by the directors of the national libraries of Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and representatives from those of Brazil and Spain; these librarians participated in a meeting in Caracas in June 1989. In December of the same year, in Mexico City, the draft was revised and approved, with the participation of 14 directors. ABINIA was thus legally constituted.

Among the Association’s objectives are the following:

  1. To make both the public and the governmental agencies aware of the importance of the bibliographic and documentary treasures of the member countries;
  2. To adopt policies, strategies, standards and training programs for the preservation of national library collections;
  3. To adopt compatible technical standards that would guarantee bibliographic control, and facilitate exchanges of material and information on the automation of information systems;
  4. To develop national and regional reference resources that would encourage research and the exchange of information, and to link national libraries with other libraries and information systems in Latin American countries;
  5. TO disseminate information on the collections via catalogs, publications and exhibitions;
  6. To support academic and other training programs for updating and improving human resources;
  7. To gather and keep up–to–date information about Latin American national libraries.

To reach these objectives, and operating plan for 1990–1993 was established, including the following activities:

  1. A project for an automated union catalog of printed works from the 16th to the 18th centuries which will give access to the information and documentation available in Latin American libraries. It is hoped that the union catalog will provide an automated inventory of the older publications in libraries that are members of ABINIA. The work will be arranged by century.

    The project will begin with the creation of a unique data bank containing the description and location symbols of all books available in the participating libraries. The intention is to strengthen universal biblio0graphic control by making the records available in MARC format. This will be the largest bibliographic data bank in the Spanish– and Portuguese–speaking world.

    The second meeting of the Association in Rio de Janeiro, in March 1991, created the framework for approving an agreement between the State Society for the Execution of Quincentennial Projects and the national libraries that are members of ABINIA for financing this catalog. The first CD–ROM edition was planned for late 1992.

  2. The Preservation and Conservation Project, with these aims:
      Identification of the conservation needs in each library by taking stock of the historic and rare collections owned, studying the type of conservation service available, and evaluating the library’s preservation capabilities;
      Establishment of a core collection for preservation—essentially by microfilming material to save its intellectual content;
      Organization and training of each library’s personnel to undertake these activities. Thus libraries would gradually have personnel for preservation and maintenance tasks.
  3. The Project for an Exposition of “Bibliographic Testimony” from the 16th, 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, within the framework of the Quincentennial of the voyage of Columbus to the New World. The exposition was planned to take place in Caracas in August 1992 and in Madrid in October 1992.

    This exhibition was intended to display representative samples of the bibliographic treasures found in the national libraries of the 21 Latin American countries constituting the Association.

    Among the 300 works in the exhibition are testimonials valuable not only because of their dates, illustrations, binding, etc., but also because of their content: original documentation of the evolution of the New World through different stages.

  4. From the Rio de Janeiro meeting mentioned above came the agreement to prepare a history called Bibliotecas de Iberoamérica pasado y presente (Latin American Libraries: Past and Present). It will consist of historic monographs on Latin American national libraries from the independence period to date and will be preceded by an interpretative and comparative essay.

A more active sharing of experiences within the Association of Latin American National Libraries (ABINIA) is really important for the modernizing of our libraries. The Association offers a convenient structure that will help librarians to preserve, organize, and make available the vast treasures that the Latin American countries have in their national libraries.

floral device About the Author

Virginia Betancourt Valverde is Director of the National Library (Instituto Autónomo Biblioteca Nacional) of Venezuela.

© 1992 Dominican University


Valverde, Virginia Betancourt, “A New Alliance: The Association of Latin American National Libraries (ABINIA)” Third World Libraries, Volume 3, Number 1 (Fall 1992).

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