Literature supply in a transnational research network: The information infrastructure of Mecila

Global Convivial Forum 

Christoph Müller (Principal Investigator at Mecila)

Screenshot of the 1st virtual meeting in December 2020.

Screenshot of the Discovery System IberoSearch.

In a transnational research network such as Mecila, in which researchers from and in different countries and continents cooperate and conduct research within a common thematic framework, the provision of publications and information resources is of particular importance. All Principal and Associated Investigators, as well as all Fellows and research associates should have access to the necessary research literature and the relevant information sources, as independently as possible of time and place.

To ensure this, an information infrastructure has been established in Mecila, coordinated by the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (IAI, Ibero-American Institute Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) together with the Biblioteca Daniel Cosió Villegas of the Colegio de México, the library of the Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros of the Universidade de São Paulo and the Biblioteca Professor Guillermo Obiols of the Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la Educación and the Instituto de Investigaciones en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (IdIHCS) of the Universidad Nacional de La Plata in Argentina.

Since December 2020, regular virtual meetings have been held between colleagues from the partner libraries to coordinate joint work and exchange information.

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The IAI, which consists of a research centre, a cultural centre, and the largest European library specialised in Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain, and Portugal, provides all Mecila researchers access to all its holdings. If Mecila’s scholars have specific literature needs that go beyond the library’s holdings, the IAI acquires corresponding media with its own funds, if possible in electronic form.

With their IAI library card, all Mecila investigators can directly access all licensed or freely available electronic offers of the IAI via the Online Catalog of the IAI library or the discovery system IberoSearch, independently of time and place.

The copyright-free publications digitised by the IAI are generally available via the IAI’s Digital Collections.

Publications that are not yet copyright-free in a licensable electronic version should also be accessible to Mecila’s investigators. To this end, the partner libraries are pursuing a two-pronged solution strategy.

On the one hand, Mecila’s partner institutions will exchange publications in physical form whenever possible. For research at Mecila’s headquarters in São Paulo, the Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros will provide its library reading room where Mecila scholars can work with these materials. This will also be possible in Berlin, La Plata, and Mexico City.

On the other hand, the IAI has set up an electronic reading room for Mecila, which makes it possible, within the regulations of German copyright law, to also make publications under copyright accessible electronically to a limited extent. Publications of high relevance for the entire project are scanned with project funds to make them available as image files in the electronic reading room, which is only accessible to active Mecila investigators.

By all these analogue and digital means, Mecila scientists have the possibility to access literature and relevant information sources held in the collections of the partner libraries at all locations of the project, to advance their research.

For more information, please contact:

Cover image: The library of the Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros in São Paulo, Brasil (IEB).