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Número: 71
Año: 2002
Autor: Johann Van Reenen, Editor
Título: Digital Libraries and Virtual Workplaces. Important Initiatives for Latin America in the Information Age

Case Study: The LibLINK initiative in Mexico

The process of developing a strong ISTEC presence in Mexico will serve to illustrate the principles on which ISTEC and LibLINK base their outreach efforts.

Since its founding in 1990, ISTEC had hoped for active participation from Mexican S&T organizations. However, this was not so and the most active countries initially were in South America. In 1998 it was decided to launch a concerted effort to involve Mexican universities with strong S&T departments. The following chronology track our efforts since then:
  • Spring 1998: ISTEC sends a technology specialist, Juan Larranaga, to Mexico. He visited seven Mexican S&T institutions. Outcome: New ISTEC members and more information about capacity. Training in the use of Ariel® software for Librarians.
  • Summer 1998: An ISTEC representative, Johann van Reenen, participated in the NSF/CONACyT Computer Sciences Workshop in Puebla, Mexico, where it became clear that many computer scientists were working on digital library components in isolation from each other and from their local libraries. Thus, Digital Library initiatives and researchers were identified and a DL group was initiated under the auspices of the Universidad de las Americas - Puebla. Outcome: Critical mass of computer scientists linked to each other and to ISTEC
  • Fall 1998: Johann van Reenen and Ramiro Jordan submitted a grant to the NSF to capitalize on the contacts made and to bring Mexican librarians and digital library researchers together. At the same time ISTEC and local Mexican universities worked together to ensure a matching grant from the CONACyT Computer Science Section. Outcome: Both grants were funded in Spring 1999 providing the resources to create partnerships and joint projects.
  • Summer 1999: A Digital Library Workshop for Mexican DL workers was held in Albuquerque, NM. Outcome:  Mexican DL workers, librarians & funding agencies were brought together for the first time to plan a future Mexican National DL Project. An added bonus was the participation of the OAS who sponsored DL workers from other Latin American countries to observe the process.
  • Late Summer 1999: An ISTEC representative, Jorge Garcia, toured Mexican S&T libraries and began discussions to create a Mexican LibLINK office. Outcome: A critical mass of Mexican SciTech librarians was linked to ISTEC.
  • Fall 1999: The first meeting of Mexican computer scientists and librarians from the above initiatives were arranged by Jorge Garcia (ISTEC) and Enidina Ortega (ITESM) in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Outcome: Established a Mexican LibLINK office and a S&T Library Network called REBIDIMEX.
  • 2000. The groundwork was done for the Mexican DL project and REBIDIMEX to continue on their own steam. ISTEC and LibLINK are still involved in attending conferences, providing speakers and arranging meetings with industry, but our participation is not essential for success.
  • This process, through involving representatives from other countries, led to sponsorship by the Organization of American States of a successful DL conference in Costa Rica in November 1999 for Central American countries. And so the process grows and continues.