The Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries (ACURIL) originated as part of a movement for Caribbean cooperation at the university level, initiated in the late l960’s by the Association of Caribbean Universities (UNICA). At that moment Sir Philip Sherlock, of the University of the West Indies, at Mona, Kingston, Jamaica, was its Secretary General.
UNICA recognized the need for close cooperation among university and research libraries in the region. It sponsored, along with the University of Puerto Rico and its Institute of Caribbean Studies, the first conference of librarians in university and research libraries of the region in Puerto Rico in 1969. This event was coordinated by Dr. Alma Theodora Jordan (University of the West Indies, Trinidad Campus), Dr. Albertina Perez de Rosa (University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus) and Luisa Vigo-Cepeda (Institute of Caribbean Studies, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus). At that conference, an independent Association of Caribbean University and Research Libraries (ACURIL) was voted into existence. Dr. Jordan was elected the first President, Dr. Pérez de Rosa the first Vice-President of the Association, and Ms. Vigo-Cepeda, first Secretary-Treasurer.
While adhering to the original proposal of collaboration among university and research libraries within the framework of UNICA, the Association recognized that it should embrace all kinds of libraries that traditionally functioned as research libraries. Public libraries, in particular, were effectively basic providers of information in many of the small Caribbean countries. There was also a growing number of special libraries in government and other institutions that should be included in the Association. The delimiting word ‘institute’ was therefore removed from the title of the Association, but the acronym remained unchanged. In 1976 the organization was renamed Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries, providing ample space for all information units in the Caribbean.
Major objectives of ACURIL are as follows:
- to facilitate the development and use of libraries, archives, and information services, and the identification, collection and preservation of information resources in support of the whole range of intellectual and educational endeavors throughout the Caribbean area;
- to strengthen the archival, library and information professions;
- to unite information workers in them, and to promote cooperative activities in the pursuit of these objectives.
There are three categories of membership open to libraries, archives, organizations, and individuals living within the area of the Caribbean archipelago, the mainland countries (including the Guianas), and the states of the United States of America which border on the Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico.
- Institutional: open to libraries, archives and schools conducting programmes of library or archival education.
- Organizational: available to national library associations, and regional and other special organizations and associations.
- Personal: open to librarians and archivists, other employees of libraries or archives, and other interested in library, archival, or related services and activities.
For each of the above-named categories, there is a classification of Associate Membership for institutions, organizations, and individuals existing or living outside of the geographic area.
The revised Constitution provides for a 13-member Council, composed of a Board with 5 officers: a President, a Vice-President, the Immediate Past-President, the Executive Secretary, and the Treasurer.
Eight (8) elected members by General Assembly are distributed as follows: 4 are representatives of member institutions, 2 of national or regional library associations, and two (2) representative of the personal members, institutional and association members are elected for 3-year terms at each Annual General Meeting. ThePersonal Members serve for a 2-year term, and may be re-elected.
The Vice-President is elected by the Executive Council from among its members and is the President-elect.
Council members serve as individuals, and may not be represented by another person at a meeting of the Council.
No mandatory requirements exist for national, language or library representation on the Council.
The Nominations Committee, however, in making selections and inviting nominations which meet the desirable criteria, seeks to maintain a fair balance and to have as wide a representation as possible.
The Executive Council meets twice at the time of the annual conference, immediately before and after. It also holds one mid-year meeting usually in November. This is often held in small countries which might not be able to hold the annual conference. Close communication is held during the year through different means.
STANDING COMMITTEES, SIGS AND CONTENT AREA ROUNTABLES
At present, two Standing Committees are constituted: Constitution and Bylaws and Publications and Public Relations.
There are also Special Interest Groups (SIGs) for the following:
- Academic, Special Libraries and Information Technologies
- Public, National and School Libraries
- Archives and Records Administration, and
- Research in the Information Field.
The Content Area Roundtables are:
- Agriculture, Environment and Green Lib
- Continuing Education and Professional Development.
- Cultural Heritage.
- Health and Evidence-Based Practice.
- Law and Social Science.
- Virtual Reference Services.
The activities of these Committees, Special Interest Groups and Content Area Roundtables have been set up to attain some of ACURIL’s objectives. Their work is strategically planned and developed by Chairs and Co-Chairs during the year aligned to the annual conference themes and reviewed during the annual conference.
The main feature of the Annual Conference is the development of a theme of interest to library and information services in the Caribbean. The President of the particular year develops the conference program along with the Executive Council, the Special Interest Groups and the Content Area Roundtables. The annual conference serves as the major continuing education event of the organization.
Call for papers, workshops and research poster are issued. Papers are presented in plenary sessions, in SIGs and Content Area Roundtables. Workshops are held to provide skills acquisition, and research posters are exhibited. Provision is made for discussion and exchange of ideas in relation to the conference theme.
This feature meets the aims to which ACURIL is committed, by promoting studies of current issues in the profession and facilitating improved communication, exchange of information and stimulating cooperative projects. A list of past conferences is provided in this webpage.
ACURIL provides the following services:
- a forum for professional meetings and discussions
- continuing education programs in the form of pre, during and post conference seminars,workshops, seminars, etc.,
- promotion of cooperative activities including the sharing of resources in the region,
- promotion of the dissemination and exchange of information in the region,
- provision of an environment for scholarly interaction and the stimulation to conduct research and publication activities,
- information on the Association’s activities, as well as of its members by diverse means of publications.
ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
ACURIL’s activities and achievements include the annual conferences, webinars, special activities conducted in diverse Caribbean countries, organization of regional projects aimed at improving access to information produced or published in the region.
Examples of efforts are the provision of opportunities for Special Interest Groups and Content Area Roundtables to meet, review and plan for the development and growth of library, archives and museums in the region. Common problems are identified, solutions are discussed to be followed up; ideas are shared on general trends, and the publication of most of the annual conferences proceedings.
The only source of funding received by the Association is its membership dues. A special income is derived from the charge of the conference fee, but the total income received is clearly inadequate to meet the cost of organizing annual conferences. In this respect, the Conference Local organizing committee must secure external funding and support to hold the conference selected.
From its inception, the Association has depended heavily on the governments and other agencies in the host countries to help defray the Conference expenses. International funding agencies have also given generously for this purpose and for the publication of the proceedings.
The General Headquarters of the Association is in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is physically located at the Caribbean Regional Library and Latin American Studies, 1st floor, José M. Lázaro Library, of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus.
Its mailing address is P.O. Box 23317, UPR Station, San Juan, PR 00931-3317.
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