CARL Conference: Mas con menos: lessons on innovation from Cuban libraries
Amy Chatfield, Information Services Librarian, Norris Medical Library
University of Southern California
How would your reference practices change if you only had four computers in the entire library? What if you had to access all your online resources through a 16 kb per second connection (versus the average speed of 4000 kb per second in the U.S.)? How would you conduct interlibrary loans if there was no union catalog? How would you preserve rare books if you had no climate-controlled areas in the building? These may seem like good discussion questions for a disaster management staff retreat, but for Cuban libraries, they are the realities of everyday life. Despite major shortages of food, goods, and oil, Cuba's libraries and librarians have maintained their high standards and provided excellent service to Cubans in their personal and professional lives. Learn about innovative methods and techniques developed during the "Special Period" (1990s) and still used in the present day in Cuban libraries, including the National Library, The Natural History Museum Library, a public library branch in Havana, the National Center for Medical Sciences Information, the University of Computer Sciences and Information Technology, the Antonio NuÃ±ez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity (FANJ), and the libraries established by the U.S. government's Interest Section. The innovations include methods of instruction and reference, data curation practices, restoration/preservation, and setting up and populating intranets. Many of the innovations in use have potential applications in U.S. libraries. The creative problem-solving mindset of Cuban librarians and administration will also be discussed to aid U.S. librarians in adopting their problem-solving strategies.