Sixteen visitors, librarians from all over South America, were invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program. This year, the program's theme was "Libraries and Museums as Community Resources, A Regional Project for South America". The visit, arranged by the Institute of International Education (IIE), is to meet four goals: To promote a better understanding of the role and function of libraries and museums as information specialists in U.S. society; To demonstrate the diversity of library and museum services and to study the use of technology, including online and digital services and public outreach; To examine the institutions and individuals involved in the research, presentation, conservation, and education of American cultural heritage; and to offer opportunities for professional dialogue and exchange to increase international cooperation.
Accompanied by 3 simultaneous translators, the group met at the Smithsonian Libraries in the Natural History branch's training room on Monday September 19 from 12:30 – 2 pm. Mary Augusta Thomas, Gil Taylor (pictured in above left photo) and Martha Rosen (above, right photo) spoke about the work of the libraries in supporting the Smithsonian. Gil showed a number of online resources and Mary Augusta and Martha answered questions about the intersection of print and digital, access to images and 19th century materials. Martha and Gil showed the group around the library where they were in particular interested in the compact shelving and in the equipment. Since some of the participants came from institutions with natural history museums and collections, we had a very lively discussion about digitizing, exchanges and sharing images.
— Mary Augusta Thomas