Expanding the Global Resources Network

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

In 2016 the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded CRL major funding to create a new framework to address the serious deficiencies in the “supply chain” for primary source materials for research in area and international studies (AIS). That supply chain, created during the paper era, serves scholarship poorly in today’s globalized, digital research environment.  

This Global Collections Initiative is focused on one region, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the diaspora communities emanating from that region. We are rethinking how CRL provisions primary sources for study of this focused domain, but hope to produce a template for cooperation and practice that can be applied by CRL and its partners to support research on other world regions as well, such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. 

The initiative affords us an opportunity to enlarge the community of institutions that work together under the CRL umbrella to provide electronic access to specialized, and often endangered, documentation and data. We have been able to engage several new international partners in this cooperative effort . The German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinchaft, or DFG)  has committed to support the initiative, and three German institutions have now submitted requests to DFG for funding to digitize Latin American materials: 

  • The Iberoamerikanisches Institut, Prussian Cultural Heritage, the primary provider of Latin American and Caribbean resources for researchers in Germany and Europe, proposes to digitize an extensive collection of Latin American cultural journals; 
  • The University of Rostock has proposed to catalog and digitize its holdings of political pamphlets published by leftist groups in Latin America during the 1960s through 1980s; 
  • The German National Library of Economics, Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (ZBW) has proposed to digitize historical economic data from Latin America.  

A number of U.K. and Latin American institutions have also agreed to participate in the project. They include: 

  • Colegio de México
  • Fundação Getulio Vargas 
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of London, Institute of Latin American Studies
  • University of Oxford, Bodleian Latin American Centre Library

The initiative is enabling CRL to expand the network of libraries and institutions committed to building and preserving important and endangered global resources, carrying on a history of cooperation that stretches back decades and evolving forward to meet the new challenges of a globalized, digital research and communications environment.   

Bernard F. Reilly
President (2001-2019)
Center for Research Libraries


The Australian libraries have many unique Brazilian imprints from the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.
Google Books revealed the Portuguese resources of Harvard-Widener, but also the Portuguese resources in the University of Michigan libraries, including their law library. Portuguese resources say a lot about Brazil.
The Gale-Cengage project to digitize resources at the Oliveira Lima library only scratched the surface, and I believe it included a commitment to put the digitized works in public domain after a certain point. It would be good to follow up.
The Biblioteca Nacional Brasileira Hemeroteca Digital is a transformative project. Yet it still has some important periodicals to go. For example, O Jacobino, the newspaper of 1890s radicals.