Southern Freedom Cries.....
Since it was the first time Venezuela participated in this kind of meeting (it was included in MERCOSUR in recent times), the whole event had a kind of inaugural taste. But, as you may guess, our interest was focused in the presence, in the city, of the most recognized leaders of our continent: Evo Morales, Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro.
Mass-media speculated with a common act where the three presidents would speak, but nothing was sure, as far as Castro decided in the last moment to travel to Argentina and participate in the meeting. But, in fact, the act took place last friday (21.07.2006) in the campus of the National University of Córdoba. It was organized by the Association of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and supported by a real lot of local and national organizations, including union associations, workers´ movements and indigenous, rural and social groups.
We couldn´t miss this proposal, so there we were, 200.000 spectators filling the whole sport area of the campus, waiting from noon the arrival and the speech of these leaders. In the meantime, the musical rhythms of the whole Latin America were presented on the stage in front of us. At the same time, the big drums of the participants filled the air with beats that seemed the heartbeat of the multitude, wishing to listen, wishing to participate in an event that seemed historic. In fact, if we consider that Castro will be 80 years old next July 26th... I think that every assistant to the act realized the same thing: we would have little chances of watching together again the most famous socialist leaders of our continent.
The Bolivian community residing in Córdoba -actually, an immense community- was present in the act. Their wipalas (traditional flags, wearing the rainbow colours in little squares) and their national flags fluttered with a southern wind, sharing space with Argentinean and Venezuelan flags... All them showed a New World joined in brotherhood, present there...
And, while the night fell (yes, we waited several hours) the presidents arrived and spoke. It was sad, but Evo Morales had to travel early to his Andean lands and, therefore, we couldn´t enjoy his presence. The act was opened by the president of the Association of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Hebe de Bonafini, and, after her, spoke the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez.
Maybe the most remarkable fact in this man is his skill for handling his speech. I´m not sure if one of us, in his situation -in front of 4.000 persons waiting for his words- would be able to articulate a couple of words with sense. I know, he is fully recognized as a mediatic person, because he has a never-ending speech... but, anyway, what a lot of people would label as "demagogic verborragy", I appreciated it as a great ability for managing a massive public and transmitting his ideas. These ideas were concentrated around a single one: the "Empire" (= USA) which press Latin America since years ago will not last long if American peoples join, if they struggle for their real independence and self-decission, if they are solidary with each other, if they help one another, if they collaborate... Alluding the indigenous communities present in the act, he pointed out that socialism is not a strange concept in Latin Amercia, and, quoting Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, he reminded us that comunitarism is a heritage running through American veins, a heritage from originary peoples that always shared their recouces trying to achieve the common welfare.
He reminded us how Venezuela was "milked" of her oil during a whole century; he reminded us how his country had bleeded its dark sap without getting anything back... He reminded us how Cuba and Venezuela currently work together, and he added some commentaries about the exchange programs between his country and Argentina: oil for tools and devices. According to Chávez, it´s the first time in a century that Venezuelan ships come with oil to the Rio de la Plata waters. Such ships had always directed their bows northwards. Never southwards. This shows a change of attitude, a change of initiatives, a change being produced in a global level, just because the world peoples are getting tired of a power that menaces them with military force and that try to dominate them by the pressure of its weapons. .. while a great part of this world -rich and powerful- is still in the shadows.
And when he finished, Fidel spoke.
I cannot express our emotion when this man went up to the microphone. Maybe you can guess it. We were in front of a piece of living history: he was the one who assaulted the Moncada, the guerrillero in Sierra Maestra, the one who has stretched the hand of Che Guevara, the one who rejected the menaces and the block of USA. I know it: a lot of you, who read me, don´t agree with these opinions and positively think that Castro is a dictator who make his people suffer. I will not debate about this issue today. Forgeting ideologies, it was truly a moment when one of the protagonist of the history of our continent and of our century will open his mouth.
And he opened it. Definitively.
The lucidity of this 80-years old man is astonishing, and I would like to have it... if I arrive alive to this age. I have to say that to listen to him was wothwhile. He lost the line of his speech a thousand times, and a thousand times he came back to it, and he guided us through the history and the reality of his country. And everything was filled with personal memories and sentences that made us laugh because of the truth they contained...
Could I resume his speech in a few lines? No, I couldn´t. He encouraged literacy in our continent, and the intelligent use of the new technologies in order to achieve community development. He encouraged the resistance against the strong pressures of imperialist forces that condemn war but have military bases everywhere, that condemn terrorism but support it everywhere, that condemn nuclear weapons but have the biggest reservories of them in the whole world... He stated the hypocrisy of a militarist and censor regime thatt have made the whole world kneel just for dominate it, and he reminded us that Latin America is strong, that we can arise and become a strong pole, being respected and respecting everybody.
And he reminded us that Cuba has the enemy in its own land, in Guantanamo. But he told us that it would be very stupid to try to recover this piece of Cuban land by the force of weapons. Because -according to their screamed words- the real force is not in weapons, but in ideas. This sentence broke our hearts: we knew that the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo (the mothers of the disappeared ones) were there, remembering the force of violence and weapons (which stole the lifes of their sons and daighters) and the one of ideas, most of them forgotten by a lot of Argentineans today.
This "marxist-leninist-extremist", as he defined himself, spoke a lot, that´s sure, but he spoke well, resuming the fights and struggles he leaded and the ideals he followed. And, whatever poeple think about him right now, I couldn´t stop remembering his most famous sentence: "history will absolve me". Evidently, a leader will never get the acceptance of all the leaded ones. There´re always divergent opinions and condemns, specially if the leader -like Castro- guides his people through a crosscurrent way in a solitary struggle. Those who decide that they want to follow the main currents and stop sacrifices will hate him and will label him as the Devil, as a dictator. But those who believe in the same ideas and follow him can say that it was wortth the pain. And it´s still worthwhile.
And there´re a lot of us who would like to follow him, because the sacrifices that Cuban people have faced and face have a meaning, a reason... The sacrifices we have to face right now -the same ones- don´t have it. I swear that they don´t have any meaning. Well, maybe they have one: we´re being still exploded and used by those who are in the power, by those who received from our hands the power for guiding our destinies.
While we left the campus of the National Universuty of Cordoba, once the act finished, I remembered an anecdote that Hugo Chávez shared with us. He said that, when he went to his first International Meeting as a president -where he met for the first time Castro- he said his words and ideas in an open way... with the results you can guess. Later, Fidel sent him a little piece paper, where he wrote the following lines: "Chávez: from now on, I don´t feel the only Devil in these international meetings anymore". While I walked, I smiled remembering this, and I thought that we´re a lot -in different scales, in different spaces- the ones who are seen, considered and treated like "demons" because we think as we think, we say what we say and we act as we act (ask opinions about me in the National University of Córdoba, and yoiu´ll find several hot attitudes).
And I thought that it´s really good to find people like you, friendly hands sharing your work, your chats, your ideas, your dreams... jusr for stopping feeling isolated, like the only wolf howling among the sheeps.
Under the few stars that sometimes bright in the urban night-sky of Córdoba, I wished that, one day, this moment would arrive to my life. Because it´s tiring to walk and work alone. And because it´s a shame to quit the own ideas just for being accepted.
I went back home, singing slowly the last song I learnt, one of the Chilean group "Illapu". Here it is. Enjoy it.
"If we want" ("Si queremos")
Illapu (from the CD "Momentos vividos")
If we want
we can write a new history.
We can invent the daylight.
We can make the sky to move.
We can built things with poetry.
Let´s make the universe to stumble..
Let´s pull down stars set on fire.
Let´s calm down storms with a kiss.
Let´s sow the devastated fields.
If we want
we can talk with our past.
If we want
we can transform this present.
If we want
we can shape our future.
If we want... If we want...
Scientific knowledge and Open Access
During these professional meetings, the BVS-ULAPSI (Health Virtual Library of the Latin American Union of Psychology Organizations) will be presented. This virtual library is an Open Access Archive, based on the work-model carried out for years by the Brazilian ReBAP (Brazilian Psychology Libraries Network) collaborate in an enthusiastic way.
For building the whole BVS-ULAPSI, every Latin American country should create first its own national Psychology virtual library, following the Brazilian example. I expect that next month, Argentina will join this interesting proposal. I guess that Argentinean librarians specialized in Psyhcology will find this idea really exciting... and that my country will soon participate in an active way in this really special network.
Well, this new lead me to think a little bit about Open Access initiatives and their relationship with current knowldge management.
I guess you know that Open Acces movement is an international effort aimed at warranting the free access to updated information, specially the scientific one. According to this idea, every member of our society -everyone- should be able to access, in a free way, every cultural and scientific advance.
OA wants knowledge to be free. This goal could be achieved following two strategies: Open Archives / Virtual Libraries (storing documents sent by their authors, and liberating them on-line) and OA Journals (published on-line in a free way). A good example of the first strategy is E-LIS; the latter one could be represented by the journals included in DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals).
Maybe you know that most of the scientific knowldge (strategic information extremely necessary for the cultural and socio-economic development of our world) is used in a commercial way. I mean, it´s sold and it´s bought.
Oh, yes, I guess you know this. I guess you have also cursed -like me- against the ridiculously high prices of full-text papers published and managed by some editorials (Elsevier? Springer? etc?). A Latin American librarian´s wage is not enough for buying 10 of them belonging to really important journals.
I guess you have also smiled -like me- when you checked the titlles of the journals included in the free-fulltext databases, including every kind of publication but never the important ones, the necessary ones, the ones who carry the most valuable information (but we cannot refuse a present, can we?).
I guess you have also participated -like me- in collaborative professional networks sharing information resources, exchanging articles and asking for help. We have tons of them in Latin America: "I have this and this journal, do you have that and that one? I need them urgently". Yes, I know you also know about this. And if you don´t, you should: it feels terrible to know that you´re in "this" side of the "Big Divide", that you´re poor and that your institution cannot afford the journals your readers need for their work or for their education.
And I guess you know about all the hackers breaking the security codes of the great knowledge sellers and liberating for everybody their well-protected contents, like modern Robin Hoods... Oh, yes, I admire them, even if I do know that it´s illegal. But, in this side of the "Big Wall", I daily witness a lot of things that should be declared illegal.. but believe me, nobody do something about it. So I don´t worry at all about these so-called "illegal" facts. I do worry when I learn that there´s people filling their saving accounts by selling knowledge, keeping away from this information everybody who cannot afford it even if they need it desperately... I know that nobody freak out about this fact (even the ones who right know are screaming, reading my words)... So, allow me to say that I admire those guys, destroying passwords and spreading full-text papers everywhere.. Yes, I admire them because, somehow, they´re making justice.
Oh, yes, I know. You´ll tell me that there´s a lot of libraries in "developed countries" that share their resources in a very kind and solidary way. That´s OK. But this sounds pretty much like charity. And world doesn´t need charity anymore. Nor do we. We need fair play. Information for everybody, in equal terms. Free information. Equal opportunities.
Maybe you don´t agree with my position. And I don´t expect you to do it. I just want you to understand that, after years of receiving charity, I am just claiming for what I deserve.
Maybe you think that these scientists who publish in expensive journals earn a good money with it. You´re really wrong: they don´t get even a little coin. Even if there´re exceptions, scientists publish their work in order to spread their knowledge, in order to make it useful for Humankind. Even if it sounds utopian, I´m glad to say -becasue I was a biologist before becoming a librarian- that this is the basis of Science: research outcomes must be spread, in order to become useful knowledge. If they´re not spread, they are not useful, and producing them is just a waste of time.
Publishers know this. Publishers also know that people need this information, because it´s strategical for progress, for development, for social and technical improvement, for health... And editorial business was born. A good businees, isn´t it?
But development, health, welfare shouldn´t be a matter of business. To believe this is unfair. Actually, it´s really nasty.
Authors research and they write their valuable results in papers which are send to upstanding journals for being published. Yes, authors need visibility, they need to have a good CV, they need to be recognized, because it they don´t publish papers in high-ranking journals they don´t get funding, they don´t get economic support... So, they publish. And the editors just put they words on a paper (I know, it´s not so simple, I worked half a life in editorials for paying my University) and sell it.
If you can afford the price of the journal, God bless you. Be happy, learn a lot, study, improve your life and the life of your neighbours. If you cannot afford it... what a pity!
What happened? Authors noticed that, by using this method, they were losing visibility: since journals couldn´t be bought by everybody, the readers´ universe narrowed in a dramatic way. And they realized that, even if they wanted a bright CV, they also wanted their knowledge to be useful, to be read, to be criticized and improved by their peers all around the world. And, when Internet became a widespread phenomenom, they understood that they didn´t need anymore big publishers: they could publish their articles in their own web-pages, or in collective sites (archives). They could show their pre-prints, make them available for everybody before publishing them in journals and getting their good CV.
And OA movement was born. The rest of the process is a part of OA history, and it can be cheked in Wikipedia (please do it, it´s really interesting) alongside with a ton of links about declarations, experiences, ideas, proposals and so on... The movement become a real philosophy, an anarchist idea, a human and solidary proposal based in a single, lovely sentence: "knowledge must be free".
And I love this kind of anarchist ideas, because they always think in human beings and their needs first. And this is what we need in a world damaged by the power of money.
Through OA, equality of opportunities in the access to information can be warranted. And equality of oportunities is a basic human right. By this way, OA is also supporting a lot of other rights: growth, development, social improvement, problems solution, qualified education, updated information...
Sometimes OA even warrant freedom of expression, for many OA archives provide an space for those authors censored by dominant ideologies, these ideologies which decide which works can be published and which voices must be silenced.
OA is aimed at stopping the commerce with a non-profit good that was created in order to provide common welfare. OA is aimed at encouraging an intelligent and solidary use of information and new technologies. OA is aimed at deleting chains and restrictions.
And OA is aimed at teaching how to use copyright in a reasonable, smart way. Because copyright actually never belong to authors: they belong to their publishers, who use them in a tyranic way.
A lot of little and big editorials have understood this fact, and they joined the movement. That´s a really good new. The bad new is that the most important ones are still reluctant to give up their business. So, right know, OA-workers are designing new strategies for achieving an slow transition from the current paradigm to an OA-paradigm.
OA is in the arena of international debates, and it´s included in the agendas of every importan LIS meeting... I´m sure that it´ll become our future work model. Examples like the one provided by E-LIS (E-prints in Librarianship and Information Sciences) clearly demonstrate that OA works very well. As an old E-LIS editor for Argentina, I can swear it.
I really believe in the philosophy undergoing OA movement. And I spread these ideas, and I teach them wherever I go, and I work with them, and I collaborate with several OA proposals... And I do it because everyday I see Argentinean students (our future professionals) without possibilities for buying books and journals, studying with 10-years-ago books and papers. And I realize that by this way the health, the education and the progress of my country (and my whole continent) is vanishing... In these moments, I feel again that I am in "this" side of the "Big Divide"... In these moments I remember the big libraries from developed countries (visited during my travels) and compare them with our own libraries, and I feel rage tears in my eyes when I realize the differences ("differences", always "differences")... In these moments I believe stronger and stronger in my ideas of freedom and anarchism...
And maybe in these moments I admire strongest those hackers who have the courage for breaking -even if illegally- the nasty usernames and passwords set up by the information dealers. Becasue, with their work -even if maybe they don´t know it- they are giving wings to a knowldge that was originally born to fly in freedom.
Travelling (from meeting to meeting...)
And from now on, until december, a good number of professional events will keep me moving around Latin America. These events will provide a meeting space to colleagues coming from the four horizons of this continent where southern winters blend with northern summers...
Since I have the [vain?] hope of being able to participate in all of them somehow (besides of participating in IFLA Meeting in Seoul as well), I think I´ll be able to publish some news about them, about the invited people, the working issues and the environments where they will be developed, as well as about the realities of the hosting countries.
So, here I want to give you a general panorama of these meetings. A lot of them are still accepting contributions: this is an important point for encouraging participation, collaboration and, of course, assistance.
Even if a lot of the last Congresses where I have been have dissapointed me in a personal way (i.e. this doesn´t mean that they were bad events), I still hope that these spaces of experience exchange were a good mean for the professional improvement of our librarian community.
Well, let´s see. First rendez-vous of this over-populated agenda will be in Guatemala, where a very active group is preparing the V National Symposium on Librarian Updating and Projection, organized by Rafael Landívar University (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the title "The social role of libraries in the development of the country". It will take place during sep.4-8. The subject chosen by Central American colleagues looks extremely important to me. The agendas of the main LIS research centers all around the world include this issue: librarian social role. Just a few curricula in our Schools provide some education on it; thus, research works and best practices presented in Guatemalan main city will be very useful for the development of our profession within a social environment tired and tired of promises, and needed of real actions.
Mexico is near there, so it´s possible to visit the presencial sessions of the Second Social Forum of Information, Documentation and Libraries (UNAM, Mexico D.F., sep.7-8), a continuation of the meeting kept in Buenos Aires in 2004. The virtual sessions of this Forum are taking place from last march: you can check the work of every Comittee in their webpage. IASA (International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives) Meeting will take place there, too (sep.10-14), and a little bit southwards, in Oaxaca, RIBDA (147h Inter-American Meeting of LIbrarians and Specialist in Agriculture Information) will call the librarians interested in this subject.
Next meeting will be in southern South America, in Rosario (Argentina), a lovely city placed in the side of the huge, brownish Paraná river. There, the ABPR (Rosario Association of Professional Librarians, email@example.com) will organize the VII Regional and V Provincial Meeting of Librarians (sep.15-17), under the title "Human, political and technological dimension of information". These meeting happens every two years, so it´s a question of not missing it.
A month later, the meeting point moves northwards, following the stream of the great Parana river, and stops in the beautiful city of Asuncion, in Paraguay, where the Paraguayan Association of Graduated Librarians (firstname.lastname@example.org) will present the First International and VI National Congress of Paraguayan Librarians, Documentalists and Archivists, under the motto "Human development in the Knowledge Society: a Latin American analysis". It will take place between oct.16-17, and the final date for works reception is aug.31. I´m pretty sure that the proverbial warmth and cordiality featuring Paraguayan people -as well as the interesting issues included in their program- will turn this event into something unforgetable. By the way, Latin American points of view on Information Society and its effects in our continental reality are extremely necessary, in my opinion: regional features are never taken into account by the powers which rule on the Knowledge Paradigm. I think that to stress our needs, possibilities and perspectives is healthy and very positive for building paths to future.
In november, activity goes on. Lying at the base of Andean mountains, the city of Santiago de Chile will witness the First Congress of Chilean Public Libraries, organized by the Librarian Center of Puente Alto (one of the biggest, most forwarding in Chile, check this website), the Direction of Chilean Public Libraries, the Library of Santiago and the journal "Pez de Plata", whose editor, Mr. Enrique Ramos, is also the Chilean editor of E-LIS, and thus, he is an old brother-in-arms. The event will take place during nov.8-10. I must underline that the Chilean public libraries -which are making a terribly good work- will be the frame for the whole meeting. So, there´ll ber a lot for learning and a lot for sharing.
Almost touching this Congress, we should move northwards again, crossing the coast deserts, for reaching Lima, in Peru, where the Peruvian College of Librarians will organize the II International Congress of Librarianship and Information (nov.13-15), under the title "Information: challenges in the Knowldge Age". To visit them will mean to get immersed in a very active and interesting world. The Peruvian colleagues have included, in their program, such issues like Open Access and digital resources in the current Knowledge Society. The activity in the Peruvian LIS listserv and the high quality of Peru-based LIS journals like "Biblios" -whose editor, Mr. Julio Santillán, is also an old brother-in-arms from E-LIS- don´t allow any doubt about the quality of Peruvian librarians.
If we are still alive after all this travelling, we can go further northwards, crossing the border and visiting Riobamba, in Ecuador, in the middle of the world. There, our colleagues are currently preparing the IX Congress of Librarians, Documentalists and Archivists, but, as far as it´s still under preparation, I cannot say anything else. Anyway, I know the good level and quality of the Ecuadorian libraries and librarians, so I guess that they´ll enjoy a massive participation and amazing conferences... And this little great country has a lot to show, from beaches to high mountains and rain forests, and interesting cultural and human landscapes.
Tired? Don´t even dream about it. Have a rest in december, because in feb.2007 Havanna (Cuba) waits for us in BiblioArchi 2007 (feb.12-16) and Buenos Aires, the city where I was born long ago, will be the place where the II Iberoamerican Congress of Librarianship will take place, (apr. 14-17).
Next auigust (19-25), Seoul will be the meeting point for librarians from all around the world during the 72nd IFLA Meeting, where, luckily or unluckily, I´ll participate with three conferences, a poster... and several debates and discussions. Due to the contradictory opinion I have about this kind of mega-meetings, I don´t know which one will be the result of my work or my participation. What I know (what I learnt last year, after feeling frustrated for a couple of months) is that, through this travel, I´ll be able to tell a lot of colleagues what´s going on in current international librarianship. And I´ll be able to tell my audience there what´s going on in several points of my country and my continent. Beside of this, I´ll be able to tell my readers a little bit about the life of eastern Asian libraries and society, placed in a region where a millennial tradition and the most advanced technologies are amazingly blended.
I have a lot of miles to travel. And I´ll not carry just my professional work and my curiosity. I´ll also carry my musical instruments. I got the big chance of showing a little bit of Argentinean traditional / indigenous music in academic environments in the countries where I´ll travel. And I´ll learn a lot about local music and instruments. So... I have a long journey in front of my feet.
I hope I will be able to "broadcast" some fragments of my experiences. I will not write the important information: I´ll tell you about it and I´ll include links to it, so you can download it easily. I will write my personal feelings and a human approach to other realities, so many colleagues will be able to understand that they´re not alone, but that there are lots like them working all around the world, a world wthout borders of any kind... I want to show other lives and other sights of our little librarian universe, I want to show the things other people are doing, and the things we should do....
I greet you... from under a heavy backpack increasing its contents daily, and from the white pages of a log book waiting for a lot of travel notes
See you here...