Monthly Archives: March 2020

Academic Libraries: a Chilean Perspective

Esta foto de Autor desconocido está bajo licencia CC BY-SA-NC

Academic libraries are currently transforming the traditional services of reference and lending for researchers and undergraduates to one where they provide large collaborative spaces for their users to work on projects of their areas of study or simply on business projects.

This trend is quite attractive thanks to digital services. For example, the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile implements cultural management services customized to the needs of the Library users. This encompasses guidance for the usage of the library and its management systems, as well as bibliographic research for dissertations. This is certainly is a step forward for our academic libraries in the sense that it goes beyond traditional services. Effectively, the creation of collaborative workspaces serves not only the internal users of the prestigious university but also all other kind of researchers and students.

All Chilean higher-educations institutions – so-called traditional universities, professional institutes, and technical training centers – have been involved in such an initiative. In other words, academic libraries have been transformed into distant relatives of the public libraries, sharing the same need to create links with communities and provide quality knowledge and cultural management.

Clearly, such an evolution has not been easy given the usual budget metrics of academic libraries, which in Chile depend on the level of student enrollments in institutions of higher education. Still, the increase of document loans has helped raise awareness amongst authorities of the need to provide an adequate budget to such initiatives. In effect, adequate resources allocation has proven beneficial for both external and internal users of the academic libraries.

Today, in the same way as digital readings clubs are renewing the usage of public libraries, likewise co-working spaces are reinventing academic libraries. In that sense, awareness by policy makers and library managers of these trends is important, because reaching out to communities means opening up to new potential students of the higher education institutions.

Chile is changing. This is true not only the constitutional field – since a December 2019 popular vote, the political framework known as “Magna Carta”, which dates to the 1980’s, is set to change. This is clearly also the case for libraries and especially academic libraries and their impact on communities. There are 63 universities in Chile and 34 Institutions of higher education that are geographically positioned in places outside the reach of Public Libraries. Therefore such academic libraries must have a double function: provide curricular education, and encourage reading.

Camila Muñoz Churruca

Universidad Bolivariana de Chile

Further reading:

  • González Guitián, Virginia. (s/a). University Libraries: brief approach to their new settings and challenges (2010):
  • Colegio de Bibliotecarios de Chile. Buenas Prácticas aplicadas a las Unidades de Información. Santiago de Chile. Colegio de Bibliotecarios de Chile (2011):
  • Varela-Prado, Carmen, & Baiget, Tomàs.. El futuro de las bibliotecas académicas: incertidumbres, oportunidades y retos.Investigación bibliotecológica26(56), 115-135 (2012):
  • Pisté, S., & Marzal, M. A. (2018). Bibliotecas universitarias y educación digital abierta: un espacio para el desarrollo de instrumentos de implementación en web y de competencias en información e indicadores para su evaluación. Revista Interamericana de Bibliotecología, 41(3), 277-288. doi: 10.17533/udea.rib.v41n3a06
  • Machado Borges Sena, Priscila & Cándido, Ana Clara [Et .al]. (2019) Prácticas de innovación abierta para impulsar propuestas novedosas en bibliotecas. IFLA WLIC.