Training of Librarians in Cuba
The initial efforts for training librarians were begun in 1936 at
the Lyceum and Lawn Tennis Club in Havana. In 1946, professional training
was started at the University of Havana through summer courses, and
four years later, a school of library science was created at the Sociedad
Económica de Amigos del País. Law 684 of the Revolutionary
Government recognizes only graduates of the University of Havana library
science program as librarians of the highest level.
In 1964, the First National Forum of Librarians proposed a four–year
curriculum that was adopted by the University after some review and
subsequent modification, so that a formal degree in library science
is now awarded. For a brief period of time in the early stages, these
courses were offered as a two–year program leading to a degree
of Assistant Librarian. Once the four–year program was officially
established, the two–year curriculum was discontinued; those who
had completed the program were awarded certification as mid–level
In the early 1970s, training in librarianship and information science
was merged, and graduates under the present curriculum receive the degree
of Licenciado, or Bachelor of Library and Information Science.
This program of study has gone through various stages of improvement.
The first version, plan A, was started in 1976; during the 1982–1983
academic year, plan B was put into effect, followed in the early 1990s
by plan C, which has been in the process of being continuously updated.
The highest level curriculum is offered in three ways: as a traditional
program of study offered during the day for regular high-school graduates;
as evening classes for employees of libraries, archives, and information
centers; and as a distance learning program for students in general,
in the form of seminars. The distance learning program, part of the "municipalization" of
higher learning, has set up extension centers for teaching various university
courses in townships across the country. There is already a Master's
degree program, and a doctoral program is being developed.
Following the Revolution, mid–level library schools began to
spring up. In 1962, in order to train staff for the public libraries,
José Martí National Library established the School of
Library Training, later the National School for Library Technicians,
which it continued to administer until 1968. Since then, it has become
a part of the school system of the former National Council on Culture,
which became the Ministry of Culture in 1977. The National School of
Library Technicians trains personnel who can work in all types of libraries,
archives, and information centers, as well as in bookstores and publishing
houses. The School's curriculum is offered in two formats: the
regular program for high–school graduates, and seminars for library
The School for Mid–Level Technicians for Medical Libraries,
established in 1968, was designed to train staff needed
for the network of libraries of the health system. This school operated
until recently, providing library personnel as demand required. Today,
medical library staff can be trained at the National School of Library
Technicians of the Ministry of Culture.
In 1970, the Ministry of Education organized courses for mid–level
technicians needed for the teacher training centers of the Continuing
Education Institutes and the Teacher Training Institutes of the provinces.
School librarians were originally teachers who had received some training
in librarianship. But after 1975, training programs for school librarians
were included in the curriculum of the Teacher Training Institutes throughout
the country. Today, there are independent schools to train school librarians,
and their graduates are certified as mid–level library technicians.
The staff of special libraries has been supported by course programs
organized by the Institute of Scientific and Technical Documentation
and Information (IDICT). Beginning in 1984, IDICT offered classes to
special library workers through the Technical Training Center so that
they could become certified as mid–level technicians, as well
as advanced-level classes for graduates of the School of Library and
Information Sciences and for graduates of other programs who work principally
in special libraries. At the present time, mid–level technicians
for special libraries are also trained at the National School of Library
Technicians (ENTB) under the Ministry of Culture.
ENTB programs are offered all over the country through the Training
System of the Ministry of Culture, with the collaboration of provincial
public libraries and specialists from other national systems. Staff
members who work as librarians in any type of institution attend these
courses, and receive degrees as mid–level technicians upon completion
of the program. Degree programs at this level are now being offered
in the provinces of Villa Clara and Granma offered through the ENTB.
Several institutions are currently accredited by the Ministry of Higher
Education to offer post–graduate courses in library and information
science. Among them, we should point out the Center for the Study and
Professional Development in Information Science, which has organized
an intensive program of courses, workshops, and the José Martí National
Library. The National Library's post-graduate courses fall into two
categories: a one–year program aimed at librarianship training
for graduates of other university areas of study who work in some type
of library; and other "refresher" courses for practicing librarians.
Many of these programs take advantage of the scientific studies and
the technical advances developed at the institution.
On the other hand, the training of researchers in library science
in Cuba and the granting of the title of highest–level librarian
is carried out in the form of one–on–one tutorials. The
librarians receive basic training in research methods, both at mid–level
schools, such as the National School for Training of Mid–Level
Technicians at the Library of the Ministry of Culture, and at the university
level, at the School of Library and Information Science in the School
of Communication at the University of Havana. However, a librarian is
recognized as a researcher only after completing several years of post–graduate
work experience. After obtaining the degree of licenciado and
completing the first two years of professional work experience, an individual
can request to be promoted to researcher at his or her institution.
Officially–established rankings in the country include: researcher
(highest rank), assistant researcher, and associate researcher.
At the present time in Cuba, a doctoral degree is also obtained through
a tutorial system, although some doctoral programs, like those in other
countries mentioned previously, are in the process of being developed.
The degree awarded for a doctorate in library science is actually a
Doctorate in Information Science, with minors in librarianship, bibliography,
archives, theory, and information management. Up until the end of the
twentieth century, most individuals with doctorate degrees had obtained
them by validating doctoral degrees they had earned in foreign universities.
However, this situation has been changing, especially after an ad hoc
review panel was formed to grant doctoral degrees in Communication and
The main source of information for this presentation was the book
by Dr. Emilio Setién, to be published in the near future: Fundamentos,
método, y perspectivas de la bibliotecología: peculiaridades
de su objeto de estudio en Cuba y en Iberoamérica (Foundations,
method, and perspectives of librarianship: the special nature of its
study in Cuba and Iberoamerica).
Translated by Jane Carpenter
About the Author
Margarita Bella is a librarian at the José Martí
National Library of Cuba.
Jane Carpenter is Cataloging Librarian at The Newberry
Email: carpenterj [at] newberry [dot] org
© 2005 Margarita Bella
Top of Page | Table