Many initiatives have been undertaken at international level to preserve this patrimonial wealth. One of the most important was the resolution emitted by IFLA´s International Conference on Administration and Preservation of Periodical Publications, held in Washington DC in 1989, which gave long due attention to newspaper preservation as part of the preservation of the cultural inheritance of each country.
Nevertheless, it is UNESCO´s Memory of the World Program which gives a definitive thrust to this world crusade. In 1992, the Association of National Libraries of Iberoamerica (ABINIA) granted priority attention to this mandate, submitting the Project “Memory of Iberoamerica”, to UNESCO, obtaining its approval and a grant of US$ 30,000 for the pilot phase.
This Project follows up on ABINIA´ successful experience in creating the Union Catalogue of XVI to XVIII Century Iberoamerican Antique Printed Works which was subsequently edited in CD-ROM format under the name Novum Regestrum, with 100,000 bibliographic references from 22 National Libraries (NLs).
The pilot phase was carried out in the NLs of Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. Project coordination fell upon the National Library of Venezuela, and activities were initiated in November 1992.
With the help of the Library System of the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras, an information-gathering form for newspaper inventory was revised and adapted. This form had been successfully applied by U.S. Academic Libraries as part of a Federal Project.
To date, the XIX Century Iberoamerican Newspaper Data Base contains an accumulated total of 8,329 records of titles, provided by the NLs of nineteen countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Starting in August 1994, project activities have been financed exclusively by the NLs and ABINIA, as outside funding has not been available.
Nevertheless, it was through newspapers, not books, that the doctrines of the Enlightenment became known and that the new ideas that would bring about profound changes to the continent’s young nations were propagated.
It is difficult to imagine the cultural situation of XIX Century societies, where the population was 90% illiterate. Books were accessible only to the elite, a small group of privileged and notable families who held social, political and economic power. Newspapers, on the other hand, were read aloud publicly in plazas and markets, and exerted an extraordinary influence in their communities, parochial though they were, but avid of news and willing to change. In fact, at that time, in Latin America, newspaper production was much more important than book production.
Thus, newspapers had a decisive impact on different aspects of Nineteenth Century life, especially in the political arena. Between 1800 and 1820, just before Independence, the reflected on one hand the ideas and values of the monarchic power established in these overseas colonies, and on the other, they contributed to disseminate libertarian ideals and to spread the seed of emancipation, so deeply desired by a wide sector of colonial society.
Independence from Spain became a reality but this did not in any way signify political peace. Newspapers continued to exert a fundamental role as promoters of the debate between conservatives and liberals, the two contending political groups whose power struggle spread throughout all Latin American, from Mexico to Argentina. The press also reflected the clash between militarists and proponents of civilian government.
The rupture with the old colonial order did not prevent new governments from practicing censure, and the press, determined to uphold its commitment in favor of the oppressed sectors, began to produce newspapers edited in clandestine, itinerant “road printing presses” as a response to governmental persecution.
Latin American newspapers of the XIX Century encompass an incommensurable universe. It is difficult to establish the number of newspapers and other publications - some long-lived, some not - that circulated in the continent. Many of them achieved continuity in time, such as Chile’s Gaceta Ministerial, with is 343 numbers, or Venezuela’s Gaceta de Caracas, founded in 1808 and published until 1822 under different names.
Because of their inestimable value, newspapers undoubtedly constitute an essential and primary material for studying history, literature, customs and daily life in Latin America. It was thanks to the press that at the beginning of the XIX Century, the echoes of Romanticism reached many of our countries. This important cultural and aesthetic movement, born in Europe at the end of the XVII Century, was particularly well received and became deeply rooted in the region, generally, linked to nationalism and the liberal doctrine.
As documentary patrimony contained in a particularly fragile support, newspapers, must be preserved and rescued. Safeguarding these materials is a priority task for those of us who have the responsibility of upholding our national patrimony. It is in this perspective, and in the framework of the Memory of the World Program that the project “Memory of Iberoamerica” finds its raison d´être.
The most important of these were:
ABINIA adopted the project on Rescuing XIX Century Newspapers in its Madrid Assembly (October 1992) taking into account diagnosis results and the importance of these materials to the academic community as a first-hand historical source.
c.- Elaborate a NOTIS-Microisis conversion program to ensure wider access in Latin America.
d.- Develop a set of standardized abbreviations based on the ISO 1177-78 norm (Symbols for the identification of languages, countries and organizations) to identify record location by library.
1.3. Information-gathering form is distributed to NLs of Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba and Peru. (1993).
1.4. Initial data from the above mentioned countries is input into automated Union Catalogue for a total of 1,145 records (1993).
1.5. In 1994, data from the NLs of Brazil, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico is added for an accumulated total of 3,100 records
1.6. In 1995, information from the NLs of Chile and Portugal is incorporated and new records from the National Libraries of Brazil and Colombia bring the accumulated total to 5,729.
1.7. In 1996, input of data from NL Mexico brings total number of participants to 12 and total records to 6,000.
1.8. In 1997, eight institutions are incorporated: the National Libraries of Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Spain and Uruguay. The data base reaches a total of 8,329 records, according to data specified as follows:
Country Register Number Argentina 53 Brazil 2,592 Bolivia 7 Colombia 1,447 Costa Rica 183 Cuba 253 Chile 202 Ecuador 91 Spain 400 Guatemala 10 * Honduras 7 Mexico 293 Nicaragua 253 Peru 308 Puerto Rico 134 Portugal 357 Panama 137 Uruguay 80 Venezuela 1,522 Total General 8,329 * We are waiting for 85 new records to be sent by the Guatemala National Library.
Selection criteria applied for attendance to workshop were:
The workshop’s final product will be the elaboration of a quality control plan for microform production in each of the countries.
2.2. A guideline for organizing microform archives emphasizing equate storage conditions is being elaborated.
3.2. Probable starting date: Second Semester 1996
3.3. Duration: 18 months
3.4. Estimated Cost: