Author Archives: Sean Knowlton

Open Access in Latin America and Spain

Latin America and Spain are at the forefront of open access (OA) publishing. This may come as a surprise to the uninitiated, but Latin America and Spain have a long history of open access publishing and, in fact, Brazil’s Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) and Spain’s DIALNET rank as the top two portals in the Ranking Web of World repositories.

Open access, generally means unrestricted access, usually online, to scholarly research. Open Access content comes in many forms and can include scholarly journal articles, theses, book chapters, as well as entire books. This content can reside in open access journals or in online repositories, such as Columbia University’s Academic Commons. Columbia University Libraries is a strong proponent of OA as evidenced by our 2011 Open Access Resolution and Open Access Week 2013 events.

Many Latin American institutions have historically struggled to afford expensive international journal subscriptions. Likewise, it was difficult for US libraries to reliably acquire Latin American scholarly journals for use by US scholars. As a result, US academic libraries collaborated with their peers in Latin America and the Caribbean to mutual benefit through extensive exchange programs. This approach had limited success in increasing scholarly communication. Digital open access initiatives have largely superseded these efforts.

Founded in Brazil in 1998, SciELO is now present in fifteen countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain, Portugal and South Africa. Expect SciELO networks soon for Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. A distributed model, each country of the network administers content locally. Funding and other support generally come from national science councils and international organizations.

Open Access has greatly increased the scholarly impact factors of Latin American scholarly publications. Some of the keys to SciELO’s success include a multilingual interface and multilingual abstracts, as well as inclusion in visible initiatives like the Directory of Open Access Journals. In fact, Brazil is the second largest country represented in DOAJ after the United States.

Looking for OA Content? Search CLIO

CLIO, Columbia University Libraries’ discovery system incorporates many open access information sources, including the SciELO network, DIALNET, Revistas Científicas del CSIC (Spain) and more into our virtual collection.

To find out more about OA, I invite you to view this recent, informative webcast, sponsored by SPARC, an initiative of the Association of Research Libraries:

Webcast: Open Access Developments in Latin America (Nicholas Cop)
January 14, 2014

Librarian Travel Report: Bogot√°, Colombia

For the second time in two years, I traveled to Bogotá, Colombia in April to attend the International Book Fair of Bogotá, popularly known as FILBO. Along with nineteen other international librarians, I received a generous invitation from Proexport Colombia, La Cámara Colombiana del Libro, and the Centro Internacional de Negocios y Exposiciones –CORFERIAS. Together, they covered air travel, fair registration, and provided other assistance during the professional days of the fair. I also wish to acknowledge the additional support of Columbia University Libraries.

FILBO is one of the three largest annual book fairs in Latin America (together with Guadalajara and Buenos Aires). It is an excellent means of both professional development and selection as 95% of Colombian publishers participate in the fair. Walking around the pavillions, it was exciting to see Columbia and Cornell faculty members' work on prominent display, to include works by Joseph Stiglitz (in Spanish translation) and Edmundo Paz Soldán, among others.

View a Slideshow of Photographs from FILBO 2013

Read an interview with US-based librarians at the FILBO Blog:
Bibliotecólogos buscan libros colombianos para universidades en EE.UU

Although primarily a national showcase, Portugal’s pavilion was irresistible as the selection was excellent. Portugal sent over 20,000 copies of their best recent publications in various disciplines. I dedicated almost an entire day to review and select Portuguese titles as the opportunity to explore Portuguese books up close does not come too often.  As this was the first year working with a shared vendor to provide Colombian materials to both Cornell and Columbia libraries, I spent half a day working closely with our vendor, Carlos Retta, to fine tune our selection criteria. In the end, I’m confident that moving forward we will build a deep, wide-ranging collection of Colombian publications in many academic disciplines. We will not duplicate nearly as much (in the past decade Cornell and Columbia's collection of Colombian publications overlapped a full 30%). Instead, by working together, we will reinvest those savings into additional titles from the country to collect deeply from all the university presses and beyond to include La Carreta, Tragaluz, Letrarte, and many more. 

A visit to the Candelaria sparked stops at the Librería del Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez, the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, and the Archivo General de la Nación. I had not previously visited the national archives and did so at the request of a professor at Cornell to investigate the acquisition of a primary resource collection now available on microfilm.


Sean Knowlton
Latin American and Iberian Studies Librarian
Cornell University Library and Columbia University Libraries (2CUL)

The Bolivarian Revolution and the future of Venezuela

With the death of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela faces an unpredictable future. I invite researchers interested in exploring Venezuela's recent political history and current affairs to dig deeper using Columbia University Libraries resources:

EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit)
Get the latest country report and country profile of Venezuela. Also, browse the online archive of these weekly, monthly and annual reports.

Emerging Markets Information Service (EMIS)
Full-text news from Latin America, including government publications, and political, economic and financial sources.

Full-text current and archival news sources, including Latin American news sources such as "El Nacional" from Caracas.

HAPI (Hispanic American Periodicals Index)
Use this index to citations from over 500 Latin American studies journals (with links to full-text articles) to identify scholarly articles on your topic. Coverage: 1970 to the present.

Explore CLIO efficiently using Subject Headings. Instead of a keyword search, simply search by "Subject":

  • Chávez Frías, Hugo
  • Democracy–Venezuela
  • Populism–Venezuela
  • Political Parties–Venezuela
  • Presidents–Venezuela
  • Elections–Venezuela
  • Venezuela–Politics and Government, 1999-
  • Venezuela–Politics and government–1974-1999
  • Venezuela–Foreign relations–United States