Voces del Sur (Voices from the South): Chile

Editor’s note: This post is part of our series entitled Voces del Sur: Rethinking LIS from the Latin American and Caribbean Perspective, featuring writers from the blog Infotecarios. Guest bloggers will answer questions about their experience as librarians and library school students in Latin America and the Caribbean. Head on over to Infotecarios to read this post in Spanish

Ms. Villanueva-Flores holds a Library Science degree with a specialization in User Experience Design from Universitat Oberta in Catalonia, Spain. She is the Head Librarian at the Map Collection and Leslie Villanueva FloresMuseum of Instituto Geográfico Militar in Chile. She is a professor of Library Science at various Library Science schools and General Secretary at the College of Librarians in Chile. Her academic background includes a postgraduate degree in Document Administration and a Master’s degree in Cultural Management. Ms. Villanueva-Flores has two postgraduate diplomas in Human Resources and Ontological Coaching. In addition, she is a staff member of Infotercarios and a founding member of InFocus Consultores. Her research interest includes Information Studies and User Experience.

What is a trend in library science that interests you and why?

I am interested in User Experience Design that is focused on information units. Currently, I am writing a book on the topic. Hopefully I can contribute to the field that is still in its infancy in Latin America.

The concept of user experience (UX) means various things to whoever you ask. With reference to design theory, User Experience Design addresses how a client utilizes a particular product, how it affects his or her loyalty, and what is the client’s satisfaction regarding the product. Concerning library science, UX tackles everything that has to do with the space of the library: from the entrance of the building to the services provided in the library website. Everything contributes and adds to the client’s (or patron’s) general experience at the library. There are, therefore, numerous ways in which a library can use user experience research methods to understand how to improve library services, policies, and procedures.

How did you become interested in library science?

The way I came to be part of the profession was the result of a chain of “small miracles,” as I like to call them. Especially since my family has a long tradition of pursuing careers in the Armed Forces. I did not know that librarianship could be a career choice for me until a friend of mine told me about it, right before I had to make the decision about what I was going to study. This is what literally changed the course of my life.

Once I started to do a bit of research about the professional aspects of the field, I was encouraged to pursue it. This is due in part because I very much enjoyed reading and books. I enjoyed reading so much that while I was in grade school, I would spend countless hours in the library, but it did not occur to me that I could study it. I fell in love with the profession ever since I started to pursue it. I was excited because I began to understand that what I was reading was only the tip of the iceberg and that this beautiful profession offers many possibilities for the cultural development in our society.

What do you consider the greatest challenges facing libraries and archives in Latin America and the Caribbean?

There are many great challenges that we are facing at the regional level. Nonetheless, I will only address those that concern my workplace and my area of specialization:

  • Rethinking library services, especially considering the Open Access framework and the pervasiveness that brings ICT tools
  • Addressing and moving forward with the trends regarding user experience utilizing ethnographic tools in my workplace
  • Advocating for the importance and huge impact of digital marketing in information-oriented institutions
  • Researching and maturing as professionals in this field to generate new knowledge about user experience

Where do you work? Describe a typical day.

I am the Head Librarian at the Map Collection and Museum at Instituto Geográfico Militar, which belongs to the Chilean Army. During a typical day at the Museum –which is, without a doubt, very entertaining to those who enjoy history, librarianship, and cultural heritage– the information requests range from various topics, which are integrated with our services. On any given day, information requests can turn into a guided visit to the Cartography Museum or the Map Collection, which hosts maps from the 1800s.

I am learning new things every day at the General Ramón Cañas Montalva Library and Museum and the library performs a very important role in information literacy. We receive many visitors, such as foreign delegations, as well as students, who are interested in history. These visits bring with them an added value because I am able to teach them about our history, from 1921 to the present.

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