Chilean Librarians Visit Columbia University Libraries

New York, NY, June 21, 2002 - The Area Studies Division of Columbia University Libraries hosted Chilean Librarians, Sandra Lara Vilches, head of technical processing at the Universidad Católica del Norte in Antofagasta, Chile, and Maria Antonieta Calabacero Jiménez, Director of Libraries at Universidad de La Serena, for meetings and a tour of the Columbia University Libraries on May 16, 2002.


While at Columbia, the visiting librarians met with University Librarian James Neal, along with Latin American Studies Librarian Pamela Graham, and Catalog Librarian Gladys Markoff-Sotomayor. Ilona Bicsak, head of monographs processing services and Rick Block, head of original and special materials cataloging, provided tours of their departments and shared information about the Libraries' bibliographic control processes.

"The level of interaction between library professionals in Latin America and the United States is far below what it should be, and it is encouraging to see programs that can open new avenues of contact and communication," said Graham.

Maria Antonieta Calabacero said that her visit to Columbia "was a very enriching experience." She explained "it was the first visit I have made to places where there are so many resources and where the work of the librarian is recognized as a fundamental tool." She continued, "Unfortunately in my country, librarians must struggle to be recognized and to obtain from our administrators the resources necessary for developing university libraries that will satisfy the needs of our users and at the same time make available information technologies like databases and digital libraries." Ms. Calabacero concluded, "The visit has served well the process of self-evaluation that we will begin soon at Universidad de La Serena."

After visits to the New York Public Library General Research Division and the library at New York University, Ms. Lara and Ms. Calabacero concluded their program in the United States by attending a three day symposium at Harvard University.

Ms. Lara and Ms. Calabacero spent the week of May 12 in New York City as participants in the Higher Education Quality Improvement Program (MECESUP), sponsored by the World Bank and the Chilean Ministry of Education, and coordinated by Harvard University and LASPAU, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering professional exchange in the Americas. The goal of MECESUP is to benefit libraries and librarians in both Chile and the United States by facilitating linkages and collaborative opportunities and by providing learning opportunities for librarians in both countries.

Area Studies is a division of Columbia University Libraries responsible for reference and research support, and for collection development in all subjects and languages on the following world areas: Africa; Latin America and Iberia; Middle East; Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe; and South and Southeast Asia. More information is on-line at:

For more information contact:

Pamela Graham, Librarian for Latin American Studies
(212) 854-3630

written: 06/25/02 KRS
photo added: 08/09/02