The First Books of the Americas: Mexican and Peruvian Prints from the Sixteenth Century in the Libraries of the World
The project "The First Books of the Americas" (http://primeroslibros.org) is a collaboration of institutions in Mexico, the United States, Spain, Chile, and Peru with the goal to digitize, preserve, and foster academic interest in books printed in Sixteenth Century Mexico and Peru. The project was announced to the public in August 2010 in the historic José María Lafragua Library (Puebla, Mexico) and has grown to include more than 25 institutions and 400 book exemplars, with plans for further growth. A major goal of the project is to build a model of cross-border collaboration, which shows the potential of technology to facilitate the retrieval, examination, and exchange of historical and cultural heritage of the first New World imprints.
The project website, available in English and Spanish, has digital copies of these important books in a variety of formats (JPG, JPF, PDF), images viewers, navigational aids, download capabilities, and metadata describing the specimens. In addition, ancillary material as bibliographies and biographies of their printers are available on the site. The collection of books and ancillary materials are offered free to the world. It is anticipated that this collection will become the definitive resource for the 16th Century imprints.
To develop the project, the Texas A&M University Libraries purchased a portable archival scanner in October 2009 to be used in Mexico to assist with the digitalization of the materials. The scanner’s first location was the Palafox Library in Puebla, Mexico. Later, the scanner was transferred to the Lafragua Library, also in Puebla. The following libraries or historical documentation centers are some that have used the scanner to digitize and subsequently display their 16th Century New World books on the project website:
- Biblioteca Palafoxiana del Ministerio de Cultura del Estado de Puebla
- Biblioteca Histórica José María Lafragua de la Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla
- Centro de Documentación Histórica Vito Alessio Robles del Instituto Coahuilense de Cultura
- Centro de Documentación Histórica Rafael Montejano y Aguiñaga de la Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí
- Biblioteca Francisco de Burgoa de la Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca
The Project’s Director is Clinical Assistant Professor Anton duPlessis who is also the Curator for the Mexican Colonial Collection at the Cushing Memorial Library & Archives at the Texas A&M University Libraries. Mr. duPlessis may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas A&M University faculty have many partnerships with Mexican researchers, business, and industry. This project is one example for which Mexico Partnership Services provided administrative assistance. If you would like additional information about this or other partnership activities or opportunities between Texas A&M University and Mexican institutions, please contact Mexico Partnership Services at http://mexico.tamu.edu
. Permission to reprint this article obtained from Anton duPlessis by Public Partnership and Outreach