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Latin American science is meant to be open access: Initiatives and current challenges

Together with Dominique Babini, we summarize the rise of open access in the region and its main initiatives.

Abstract: Latin American open access (OA) initiatives were built upon the foundations laid by the regional cooperative information networks, databases and indexes that started to be developed from the 1970s. OA had an early start in the region in the 1990s, because it preceded the first worldwide OA declaration. This article summarizes the reasons behind the emergence of OA in the region, offers details and data about the most relevant initiatives and discusses some of the current challenges to keep advancing in this arena.

Full text at Sage Publications

Open Access version (Coming soon!)

Recommended reference: Babini, D. and Machin-Mastromatteo, J. D. (2015). Latin American science is meant to be open access: Initiatives and current challenges. Information Development, 31(5), 477-481.

From the ashes

From the ashes

523 years ago, one of the major cultural crimes in the history of humanity happened: slaughter, imposition of ideologies and dogmas, apart from a systematic cultural annihilation; all this meant the alteration of the independent development and of the future of the autochthonous Latin American cultures. Current Latin American civilization emerged from this event: From the ashes…

Abstract: About 523 years ago, the territory now known as the Americas was ‘discovered’. This event detonated the conquest and colonization of this ‘new world’, processes that altered the historical development of the indigenous civilizations. This work examines one of the most disheartening consequences of this clash of civilizations: the almost total destruction of the indigenous people’s cultural heritage. This annihilation was driven by the implementation of colonial domination, which implied the establishment of a new socio-political order and systematic and forced religious conversion, which included the destruction of the pictographic codices that were seen as ‘works of the devil’.

Full text at Sage Publications

Open Access version (Coming soon!)

Recommended reference: Machin-Mastromatteo, J. D. (2015). From the ashes. Information Development, 31(4), 383-386.

Regional consensus gave birth to the modern public library


Third issue of the column Developing Latin America: article about the Caracas Declaration (1982) for public libraries, written together with my dear colleague Renny Granda. This issue of Developing Latin America deals with the Caracas Declaration as a historical milestone, stressing its importance and its vindicationas a factor of development and social change in Latin America.

Abstract: In 1982, library experts from 30 Latin American and the Caribbean countries met in Venezuela to discuss the current state and development strategies for the region’s public libraries. The result was the first technical-normative document for public libraries in the region, commonly known as the Caracas Declaration. This issue of Developing Latin America comments on the contents of this document, its influence and importance, and suggests the exercise of invoking and reviewing its principles and objectives to once again analyze the current state and project new development strategies.

Full text at Sage Publications

Open Access version (Coming soon!)

Recommended reference: Granda, R. and Machin-Mastromatteo, J. D. (2015). Regional consensus gave birth to the modern public library. Information Development, 31(3), 314-316.

The arrival of information literacy


Jesus Lau and I just published an article where we remember and explore how did information literacy (infolit) get in the Latin American region. You may find it in the second issue of Developing Latin America, available in the journal Information Development, published by Sage. The most important elements in this article are two tables, one of them ranks Latin American countries by their academic production regarding infolit (with data gathered from the AlfinIberoamérica wiki) and the other table highlights the eight infolit declarations that have been made in the region, their date, place and the name of the event or declaration.

Abstract: Paul Zurkowski coined the term Information Literacy in 1974, since then it has evolved into a dynamic research area within library and information science, with many milestones achieved in Europe and the United States, reflected in English-written literature. This issue of Developing Latin America traces an alternative route, exploring the arrival of information literacy to the region and its main developments.

Full text at Sage Publications

Open Access version (Coming soon!)

Recommended reference: Machin-Mastromatteo, J. D. and Lau, J. (2015). The arrival of information literacy. Information Development, 31(2), 190-193.

Is information enough to save the region?

Is information enough to save the region?

On the past issue of Information Development (IDV) (Published November 2014), we had to part ways with and wish our best to our fellow Editorial Advisory Board Member (EABM) Archie Dick and his column African Information Initiatives. Some months ago, IDV Editor asked EABM for ideas on a new regular column. For me, the prospect of being in charge of a new column was very attractive from the beginning and I had a clear idea to propose: if we had a column about Africa, then the most logical choice is to continue with a column about Latin America (LA). Before making my suggestion, I knew that writing a column for every IDV issue involves a huge challenge: have the discipline of writing something interesting while keeping up with the journal’s deadlines. However, it could be a very important achievement as the proposed column’s debut would coincide with IDV’s 30th anniversary. Moreover, it is an outstanding opportunity for me as a scholar, in order to be able share some thoughts and concerns in the personal and pleasing, but didactic format of an ongoing opinion column. Furthermore, this gives me the chance to deepen my own understanding about some topics that are strategic to the region before writing the lines you will read on the next issues. Hence, Developing Latin America was my proposal, which was accepted and encouraged by our Editor and my fellow EABM, for which I am very thankful.

The final running title was almost a last minute decision. When I was rushing to get this first column written I only had a handful of obvious and bland titles. Although this final title is very simple, the intention is for it to be somehow provocative. LA is a region with many issues and challenges and sadly it does not feature as prominently as many of us would like in academic journals such as the present; there are neither many articles written by Latin American authors, nor many articles written about the region (at least in the Library and Information Science field). Moreover, in most of the cases that the region is mentioned in scholarly communications it is done tangentially. Furthermore, there is not much published about information initiatives and milestones in LA, when we compare it to other regions, and this issue is not exclusive to IDV. A prominent problem is to blame: the language barrier for information professionals to be able to write in English journals when the languages of the region are mostly Spanish, Portuguese, French, all the indigenous languages, and English is spoken as a main language a very small proportion of LA countries. For all the above, I am using in the title of the column series form of the verb ‘developing’, as this means: a reminder that the region is and has to be developed, this is a work-in-progress, the aim is to work toward its development, try our best to advance with the region, and most importantly, communicate regional achievements in journals such as IDV. I should dedicate some lines to the other part of the column’s title “Latin America”, because this is not a totally clear distinction, although we are using it for the sake of practicality. Unless stated otherwise, when I mention LA, I will mean all Latin American countries including Caribbean countries, from Mexico to Argentina, including nations along the Caribbean Sea and those of Central America.

I was keen on the idea of writing this introduction to the column, because I also took the opportunity to review the articles about LA (and from LA authors) that have been published in these 30 years of IDV, thus tracing the representation of the region in IDV and providing some insights and an interesting basis for discussing and updating on some issues that have already been posted in IDV. All the above and much more is available in this first issue of Developing Latin America, which starts with the question: is information enough to save the region?

Abstract: Latin America does not exist. These 42 diverse and developing countries are hardly a union. However, they share geographical proximity, history, strangely unique elements, and the wish to progress. This first issue of a new column, ‘Developing Latin America’, explores some information issues, literacy rates, regional prominence in scholarly publications, and relevant topics taken from Information Development’s publication history.

Full text at Sage Publications

Open Access version (Coming soon!)

Recommended reference: Machin-Mastromatteo, J. D. (2015). Is information enough to save the region? Information Development, 31(1), 89-91.

Piloting a holistic information culture program


Abstract: This article presents the staff, structure, methods and preliminary results from the pilot of a holistic information literacy program developed in the System of Libraries of CETYS Universidad in Mexico. ‘Information Culture Development’ (ICD) is driven by action research (AR) and the concept of information culture (IC), comprised of information literacy (IL), digital literacy (DL), and research competences. ICD aims at developing these competences and supporting reflection and improvement upon university practices related to curriculum, teaching, and research. ICD’s initiatives and products were divided into four axes: a) curriculum and learning support, b) information and digital literacies development, c) research and scientific communication support, and d) evaluation and communication of results. ICD’s pilot involved workshops and activities framed within an AR perspective and a mixed methods approach. Preliminary results determine the success of activities with academics and students regarding their strengths and weaknesses in IC-related competencies.

Full text at Springer Link

Open Access version (Coming soon!)

Recommended reference: Machin-Mastromatteo, J.D., Beltrán, O. and Lau, J. (2014). Piloting a holistic information culture program: The experience of CETYS Universidad System of Libraries. Information Literacy: Lifelong Learning and Digital Citizenship in the 21st Century; Communications in Computer and Information Science, 492, 350-360.

Thinking outside of literacy

thinking outside

On July 23 2014, I published a commentary in the academic journal Information Development (published by Sage), titled titulada Thinking outside of literacy: Moving beyond traditional information literacy activities. This reflection is framed in the field of information literacy, a dynamic area of practice and research that is typical of Library and Information Science, which contains the competences to access, use and evaluate the information effectively. This field also includes the use of information and communication technologies and participatory media such as social media.

This text offers some suggestions from my practical and research experiences in order to foster a professional reflection upon how we can overcome from these traditional ways of conducting information literacy activities; which are vital for developing an information culture, for university environments as well as for society.

I include the necessary discussion of the differences between the so-called digital natives and the generations preceding them; both have different challenges when they need to use information and technologies  strategically and especially for purposes beyond communication and entertainment. I also mention the recent challenge that I call the ‘ready-made information culture’, a term inspired in the dark side of social media and the over-simplification of the information that we currently consume. This challenge entails the difficulty to reason and think critically over complex and lengthy information; thus implying loses over their messages and resulting counterproductive for the development of critical thinking in the academic sector. Lastly in this discussion, I categorize in two main areas what I call the traditional way of developing information literacy competences:

a) Resource specific training: are basically software demonstrations, very common in libraries when we train users about the use of a technology or an information resource. Its problem is that it seems difficult to keep it dynamic for students, if it is not possible to add a practical component, such as doing problem based learning.

b) Theoretical teaching of information skills: these appear in some international standards and curricula that do not usually specify how do these competences apply to areas of the human or professional profiles that is to be developed. Their challenge is that the student and even the teacher will not necessarily going to understand how to transfer these competences to academic or life scenarios.

These criticisms do not mean to say that these variations of methods to develop information competences are wrong. Conversely, we the teachers must consider both and seek for a third way that integrates the previous two while we discover how to get beyond. It is important to keep at hand these kinds of reflections about how to develop an information culture in our students (and thus these transfer to society) and above all: to discuss them.

Abstract: A brief reflection on what might be becoming the traditional way of conducting information and digital literacy activities, together with some recommendations in order to move beyond these traditional grounds. This reflection is framed within this age of social media and draws upon information literacy concepts, tools, and experiences.

Full text at Sage Publications

Open Access version

Recommended reference: Machin-Mastromatteo, J. D. (2014). Thinking outside of literacy: Moving beyond traditional information literacy activities. Information Development, 30 (3), 288-290.


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