PERU: Molly Molloy – Here is the networking report I wrote in Sept 1994

molloyminiatura.jpg
In June 1994, I received an invitation from the U.S. InformationAgency USIA) Academic Specialist Program to travel to Peru to conduct a two-week library science project. This opportunity came about due to a contact I made at the March 1994 Latin Ameri can Studies Association (LASA) conference in Atlanta. At LASA I participated in a panel entitled “Demystifying the Internet.” Dr. Marcia Koth de Paredes, Director of the Fulbright Commission in Peru, attended the session and mentioned the possibility of traveling to Peru to share this information with librarians and scholars there. The USIA Academic Specialist Program officer called me in June and the trip was scheduled for early September 1994.


To: Maria Saenz <msaenz@amauta.rcp.net.pe>
Cc: Molly Molloy <mmolloy@lib.nmsu.edu>

On Tue, 19 Dec 1995, Maria Saenz wrote:
> I work for the Red Cientifica Peruana. For one of my projects I am
> putting together documentation about the history of the RCP.
> I have not been able to find the document that you wrote about the RCP.
> Could you send me copy of that document?

Thanks you for the note. Here is the report I wrote in Sept 1994. It is a
little long, but I hope it is useful and that you will let me know how to
get a copy of your RCP history when it is completed.
Sincerely, Molly Molloy mmolloy@lib.nmsu.edu

*****************************************************************
Memo

October 5, 1994

From: Molly Molloy, Reference/Latin American Studies Librarian,
New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003

USIA Peru Project: Linking Peru to the U.S. Through Electronic
Networks–Supporting the Health of Peru’s Library Program
September 4-September 16, 1994

In June 1994, I received an invitation from the U.S. Information
Agency (USIA) Academic Specialist Program to travel to Peru to conduct a
two-week library science project. This opportunity came about due to a
contact I made at the March 1994 Latin Ameri can Studies Association
(LASA) conference in Atlanta. At LASA I participated in a panel entitled
“Demystifying the Internet.” Dr. Marcia Koth de Paredes, Director of the
Fulbright Commission in Peru, attended the session and mentioned the
possibility of traveling to Peru to share this information with librarians
and scholars there. The USIA Academic Specialist Program officer called
me in June and the trip was scheduled for early September 1994.

Before traveling to Peru, I communicated via electronic mail with
Mr. Jose Soriano, Director of the Red Cientifica Peruana (RCP)–a
non-profit consortium that provides access to the global Internet in Peru.
I had become aware of the work of the RCP thro ugh various electronic
conferences and by using the RCP gopher and World Wide Web servers which
are one of the best locations on the Internet to find information about
Latin America and networking. Mr. Soriano publicized my visit to Peru on
various elect ronic conferences for librarians and teachers administered
by the RCP. He also encouraged me to travel to several cities outside of
Lima in order to both learn about the situation of networking from the
provinces and to spread the word about networking s ervices.

The program was administered by the office of the United States
Information Service (USIS) out of the American Embassy in Lima. Mr. Joao
Escodi, Cultural Attach=E9 was the Control Officer for the project. The
hands-on organizers who planned my schedule a nd handled all of the
arrangements, including organizing the trips to Arequipa and Trujillo,
were Iliana Shoobridge, Senior Cultural Specialist and Supervisor of the
USIS Reference Library in Lima; and Roya Taraz, USIS Computer Systems
Manager. They both put in many hours of work to ensure that the project
was a success and working with them was a wonderful experience.

September 4-5
I arrived in Lima early Sunday morning, September 4, and Iliana
Shoobridge met me at the airport. I spent the day getting used to the
cold and fog of Lima in the winter. Iliana escorted me on a tour of
Lima–a large metropolitan area with an estimated population of 8,000,000.

Monday, September 5 was Labor Day, and a holiday for most of the American
Embassy personnel, however, Roya Taraz accompanied me to a meeting with
Jose Soriano of the Red Cientifica Peruana. I also met Yuri Herrera,
Technical Sup ervisor and User Services Manager for the RCP. I was given
an account on the RCP to use during my presentations in Peru. We talked
about the politics of networking in Peru and other Latin American
countries. Soriano is one of the major activists in the effort to promote
inter-networking in Latin America. He felt that one of my purposes in
being in Peru was to promote the work of the RCP. Being an outsider, and
being sponsored by the American Embassy and USIS would perhaps lend more
credibility to the accomplishments of the RCP in connecting Peru to the
world through the global Internet. Soriano and I also agreed that it was
important to point out to people that in addition to using the nets to get
information, they could also use email and gophers a nd other services to
present information about their organizations to the global Internet
community. As a specialist in Latin American information in a U.S.
library, I have found the Internet an invaluable source for information
about organizations and a ctivities in Latin America. The RCP is
encouraging its members to build gophers and WWW servers to contribute new
information to the Internet community. One of the most impressive
examples to date is the Constitutional Law gopher of the Universidad de Lima.

One of the RCP’s major efforts now is to build up the base of end
users in Peru. This is difficult due to the expense of
telecommunications. Even within Lima, one must pay for the local call to
the RCP in order to make the connection to the Internet. From the
provinces, the expense is much greater. Most end users in Peru now have
access to electronic mail only; full Internet services (gopher, WWW, FTP,
etc) are provided for an extra charge. RCP is also currently offering
free access to these servic es for a limited amount of connect time, after
6 pm. My presentations about the practical use of Internet resources may
help to stimulate more use of the full range of network services provided
by the RCP. The RCP has also just initiated the RENACE proj ect in
cooperation with the Ministry of Education to provide network access to
secondary schools in Peru. Plans are underway to set up network training
centers in Lima. Soriano and I may collaborate on a paper he will present
at a Latin American Network ing conference in Buenos Aries in November and
I have invited him to participate on a panel being organized for LASA in
September 1995 on the politics and economics of Latin American networking.

September 6
I attended the obligatory security briefing at the American
Embassy. All U.S. citizens on official visits to Peru are required to
attend this meeting. Terrorist attacks by the Sendero Luminoso and the
MRTA organizations were common in Peru for many yea rs during the 1980s
and early 1990s. After the capture of Abimael Guzman (leader of Sendero
Luminoso) in September 1992, the number of terrorist attacks dropped off
considerably, however, petty crime in Lima is still a big problem and the
Embassy tries t o ensure that all U.S. citizens are adequately protected
and warned. I also met Pamela Corey-Archer, USIS director. She is quite
positive about Internet services and how they can help USIS staff to
communicate and provide information. The week that I a rrived, Roya Taraz
was in the process of installing the network access software in the USIS
offices so that they could begin accessing the RCP gopher and other
services.

Iliana Shoobridge then accompanied me to visit the library of the
Binational Center of Lima (Instituto Cultural
Peruano-Norteamericano–ICPNA). The ICPNA receive funding from USIS and
from the Peruvian government and offer library services, English clas ses,
and a variety of cultural and art programs. We met with Barbara Sanez,
ICPNA librarian and with several of her assistants. They have recently
installed a LAN for access to their library catalog, an encyclopedia and
several other databases. They us e the Microisis program for their
catalog–this program, provided by UNESCO, is used all over Latin America
to automate library catalogs. It is not very user-friendly, but the ICPNA
library hired a programmer to write a front-end for their library databa
ses that makes searching very easy. They also have an account with the
RCP and have begun to use electronic mail and are interested in exploring
other Internet services. [Barbara attended the presentation on September
7].

In the afternoon I went with Roya to coordinate the program
scheduled for September 16 at the Colegio San Silvestre. We met with
Eliana Alegre, computer specialist at the school. San Silvestre is a
private school for girls operated on a British model. Many of the
teachers are from England. They have recently begun to use electronic
mail through the RCP and will soon have full Internet access.

September 7
In the morning Roya and I went to the Roosevelt School to conduct
the first workshop. Yuri Herrera from the RCP accompanied us to make sure
that the equipment and the connection functioned properly. Roosevelt is
the private American School in Lima. Th e 1000 students at Roosevelt
include Americans, Peruvians, Japanese and representatives from many other
countries–many are children of diplomats. The computer science teacher,
Mr. John Lakatos, is currently teaching a course on “information
technology i n the global society.” and has recently acquired an Internet
account for the school through the RCP. About 40 students, teachers and
librarians attended. I gave a brief introduction to the Internet and then
demonstrated various resources accessible thro ugh the gopher. I used the
RCP gopher as a gateway into the Internet and from there looked at various
resources in Latin American and the United States. At this first session
(and in several others) I found that there was a great interest in using
the n etwork to find addresses of friends in the United States. For
example a teacher at the school had studied a few years ago at the
University of Illinois. She had lost touch with a friend there so we went
to the University of Illinois gopher, looked in th e campus directory and
located her friend’s phone number, address and email address.

As was often repeated in subsequent sessions, the time ran out
before everyone could get answers to all of their questions. We were
using the net through a 2400 baud modem (which is all the Lima telephone
lines can support) so connecting and displaying information was very slow.

The objective, however, was to present some of the possibilities of using
the net to find information and I feel that we successfully demonstrated
that. At this and all of the subsequent sessions, I demonstrated the
resources of the RCP and other Peruvian gophers in order to encourage new
network users to think of ways that they could present their own unique
information to the network community and how useful this information can
be.

The second workshop was scheduled for Wednesday evening at the
Universidad del Pacifico in Lima, co-sponsored by the University and the
Colegio de Bibliotecologos (library school). Univ. del Pacifico is a
private university specializing in economics, bu siness and accounting.
An announcement of the conference had appeared the day before in the
newspaper (El Comercio) so Iliana expected a large audience. Indeed,
librarians and library school students and others from various
universities and organization s in Lima attended, probably about 60
people. The organizers of the program included Ms. Maria Bonilla de
Gaviria, Director of the Univ. del Pacifico Library, and Dr. Betti
Chiriboga, Director of the Library School. Mr. Abraham Tello, computer
specialis t at the Library and Yuri Herrera (RCP) provided technical
assistance. The connection functioned very well during this evening
session. There was a great deal of interest in economics, business and
U.S. government publications in this session. Many wer e also intrigued
by the variety of resources on the RCP and the Universidad de Lima
gophers. We were online from about 6:30 until 8:30 pm and the connection
functioned very well.

September 8-11
I left early Thursday morning to travel to Arequipa, Peru’s
second-largest city (approx. 650,000) located in the mountains in the
southern part of the country. I arrived about noon and went directly to
the office of INFO-UNSA, the Documentation and Info rmation Center of the
Universidad Nacional de San Agustin. UNSA is a large public
university–the various colleges each have separate libraries. In
contrast to some of the facilities I had seen at the private institutions
in Lima, the equipment and othe r physical resources at UNSA were more
modest. The documentation center is really a technical computer resource
center and seems to have more human than material resources. The
technicians and engineers at INFO-UNSA work for various units in the
Univers ity and do a variety of jobs, including programming, creating
databases, installing and repairing equipment, training personnel, etc. I
had an afternoon meeting with Mr. Jose Callo and Mr. Jorge Tamayo–the
director and chief engineer at the center.

The next day’s presentation would be attended by workers in many
of the libraries and documentation centers at the UNSA. In addition to
discussion and demonstrations of Internet resources, they were interested
in hearing about various aspects of library work in the United
States–specifically classification systems, the organization of reference
and other public services, and general administrative topics. We
discussed the problems if inter-networking in Arequipa, the most difficult
being the high cost of telecommunications. Connecting to the RCP to use
Internet resources requires a long-distance call to Lima. UNSA is
investigating the possiblilty of getting a dedicated line for Internet
services, but this would cost at least $2000/month. At present
there is not a large enough user base to justify the cost. In describing
the work of INFO-UNSA, Mr. Tamayo emphasized the independence and
creativity of the organization. They do informatics work for many
departments of the university, including, but n ot limited to the
libraries. They also conduct extension classes in the community in
computer and information technology, including summer classes for
children.

After solidifying the plan for the next day’s presentation, I
visited the ICPNA in Arequipa, invited by the librarian, Ms. Estela
Delgado. ICPNA-Arequipa is located in a beautiful colonial building just
a few blocks from the main plaza. The library is well-equipped and plans
are underway to automate their catalog. There was a lot of activity in
the center in the late afternoon when many students arrive to take English
classes. I met the Director, Mr. Jorge O’Brien who gave me a tour of the
center, in cluding a new addition with a theatre and AV-equipped
classrooms. The librarian and computer systems specialist both attended
the presentation the next day at the University.

The conference took place at the library of the College of
Medicine (Biblioteca de Biomedicas)–UNSA. The director, Dr. Juan Manuel
Cruz gave me a tour of the reference rooms and the collections. We began
the presentation at about 11:00, broke for lunc h at 1:00, and then
continued from 3:00-5:00. About 70 people attended the sessions,
including students, library workers, some medical and social science
faculty and others from the community. In the morning, I addressed the
general library topics menti oned by Mr. Callo and talked about some of
the theoretical aspects of networking. During the lunch break, I was
given a tour of the hospital by one of the medical faculty, including
their computer lab, which provides access to Medline on CD-ROM and also
ADONIS, a full-text medical journal database from the Netherlands. It is
interesting to note that these databases are located in the hospital, not
in the library. The professor explained that although these databases
were expensive, it was easier to get the articles on CD-ROM–a comparable
collection of journal subscriptions would be impossible to acquire and
maintain. The afternoon session was spent almost entirely online. We
explored many net resources, again using the RCP gopher as the main
gateway . People had many questions and we were able to connect to some
interesting resources. The librarians in the audience were intrigued by
the idea of searching other library catalogs, especially the Library of
Congress catalog to obtain cataloging and cla ssification information for
books in their collections. I felt somewhat guilty about the time spent
online, which must have resulted in a very expensive phone bill for the
Biomedical Library, however, people seemed reluctant to stop even after
two hours. The connection to Lima worked perfectly for the entire time.

I returned with Mr. Callo to the INFO-UNSA office in the afternoon
and spent some more time visiting. I left one Internet book for the
Center, and they wanted to photocopy several other resources that I had
brought. The rest of the weekend I spent expl oring Arequipa which is an
excellent town for walking. The most interesting visit was to the
Convento de Santa Catalina, a 400 year-old Convent that was opened to the
public in 1971. The cloistered nuns still live in a separate section of
this walled vi llage, but most has been restored as a museum. In addition
to beautiful and unusual architecture, the Convent contains a huge
collection of colonial art from the 16th-19th centuries. I also visited a
pe=F1a to listen to Andean folk music. On Sunday Mr. C allo visited me in
the hotel to return the books. He asked if I might be interested to
return and work for a longer period to present a “curso de capacitacion”
for the library workers at the UNSA. This would certainly be a worthwhile
thing to do. I sug gested that he contact Dr. Paredes at the Fulbright
Comission in Lima about the possibility. I returned to Lima on Sunday
evening.

September 12-14
On Monday morning I met with USIS, Fulbright and USAID officers in
the USIS headquarters in Lima. This presentation was a bit more informal,
concentrating on the kinds of information sources that might be especially
useful to Embassy staff. We spent a lot of time on the Library of
Congress Marvel gopher which is good for access to U.S. government
information arranged by branch and by agency. I also talked a bit about
Internet “culture,” and how it has developed over the past few years in
the academic community in the United States. Again, there was a lot of
interest in using the net to find lost acquaintances from various U.S.
universities. We were lucky enough to locate the current addresses of
several former Fulbright scholars from Peru who now te ach in the United
States.

In the afternoon, I left for Trujillo, a coastal city in the
northern province of La Libertad with a population of about 550,000. Mr.
Augusto Hidalgo, Director of the Centro de Comunicaciones at the
Universidad Nacional de Trujillo (UNT) met me at the a irport. We visited
his office at the University. In addition to electronic mail and network
services, the Centro de Comunicaciones also handles all of the AV needs of
the University. Mr. Hidalgo studied media and business (MBA) at the
University of Ten nessee as a Fulbright Fellow. I also met Mr. Robert
Prada, the email postmaster who manages the account with the RCP and
maintains local email accounts for the University.

The conference was scheduled for 11:00 on Tuesday. An
announcement appeared in the local newspaper (La Industria) so Mr. Hidalgo
expected a good audience. I estimated the attendence to be about 80 and
the audience included a lot of students. There wer e also representatives
of the local media there and I gave an interview for a radio station and
for the newspaper. As before, I talked about the background of the
Internet, some theoretical aspects of networking, and the practical uses
of Internet resour ces in academia and libraries. The technical
connections functioned very well due to the work of Mr. Hidalgo’s
technicians from the Centro de Comunicaciones.

In the late afternoon, Mr. Hidalgo had planned a small, informal
meeting for university library workers. As in Arequipa, there are many
small libraries on the campus, dispersed among the different colleges and
departments. They asked many questions abo ut all aspects of library
service and we talked for about 2 hours. The Centro is in the process of
installing computers and modems in each library so that the library
workers can communicate with each other via electronic mail, share
information about th eir holdings, etc. Mr. Hidalgo also spoke about his
plans in the near future to obtain a dedicated line for communication with
the RCP in Lima and the need to greatly expand the user base in order to
justify the expense. As it is now, any student or fac ulty member can get
an email account through the Centro. (I was there when one student came
in to ask for one.) With over 30,000 students, Hidalgo feels that the cost
could easily be justified. Again, as in Lima and Arequipa, the main
impediment to exp anded access and use of the Internet is the high cost
and limitations of Peru’s telecommunications system.

On Wednesday morning I met with Ms. Carmen Rosa Ol=F3rtegui, Library
Director at the ICPNA in Trujillo. We visited her library, which is very
well-equipped and organized. Several people mentioned that it is the best
reference library in the city. I also
met Douglas Stone, the Academic Adviser at the ICPNA. The ICPNA Library
is active in planning informational and cultural programs and seems to
coordinate well with the UNT. While I was at the ICPNA, Mr. Hidalgo
called to say that he had arranged a brie f meeting with the Rector of the
University, Dr. Jorge Ruiz D=E1vila. This was a rather formal meeting, but
served to reinforce Hidalgo’s current proposal to greatly expand network
access at the University. Dr. Ruiz is knowledgable about information
techn ology and seemed to be supportive of Hidalgo’s work.

I also received a phone call earlier in the morning at the hotel
from Mr. Carlos Burmeister, Director of a local radio program–La Voz de
la Calle on Radio Libertad in Trujillo. He had seen the article about my
talk in the newspaper and wanted to interv iew me on his radio program.=20
At the radio station I met his wife, Nora, who also manages a large sound
archive which includes 30 years of interviews recorded for the program.=20
Mr. Burmeister makes it a point to interview many visitors to the city,
but es pecially to interview local personalities, including political
figures, labor activists, and “people on the street.” I felt very
flattered to be included. I was able to talk for about 5 minutes “live”
on the radio about the Internet in Peru! [Andy Warh ol, were you
listening?] I also think that this archive could be a very useful resource
for research on the local history of the region. It would be an
interesting project to catalog it.

After the program, Mr. and Mrs. Burmeister invited me to their
home for lunch and also gave me a ride to the airport. It turned out that
Burmeister, who is an attorney in addtion to being a radio personality,
attended Louisiana State University (LSU–my alma mater) in the sixties.=20
I arrived back in Lima late Wednesday afternoon.

September 15
This was an all-day workshop at the Escuela Superior de
Administracion de Negocios–the Graduate School of Business Administration
(ESAN) in Lima. This private institution has very impressive physical and
human resources which include a documentation ce nter (CENDOC), a computer
center (ESAN-DATA), several fully-networked computer labs for students,
and the headquarters of the Red Cientifica Peruana. The seminar was
organized by Ms. Isabel Olivera and Maria Luisa Palao of CENDOC. and took
place in a com puter lab. Technical assistance in the lab was provided by
Mr. Max Quiros and Yuri Herrera. In addition to ESAN librarians and
faculty, the 25 attendees included representatives from various
universities and organizations, including: Universidad del Pa cifico,
Comision Fulbright, Universidad de Lima and others.

This was the only session where the audience had an opportunity to
get hands-on experience. All of the PCs in the lab have Mosaic software
loaded and the ESAN participants have some experience using Mosaic.
Unfortunately, Mosaic proved to be much too s low to use in demonstrations
or any kind of group activity. So this required that we switch to the
more basic Unix gopher interface. Explaining the difference between the
various options for interacting with the Internet proved to be one of the
more dif ficult concepts of the whole workshop. The morning session
included the background and overview of the net and some demonstrations.
This group was very interested in looking at the NMSU gopher, since they
are in the process of planning their own informa tion server. We talked a
bit about the steps involved with creating a gopher server. The afternoon
session was an interesting attempt to get over 20 people online at once
and to navigate various resources. Coordination was definitely a problem,
but aft er a rough start, things went more smoothly. One interesting
exercise was going into a “list of lists,” doing a keyword search for the
business librarians’ list, BUSLIB-L and then explaining the process of
subscribing. We also spent some time with the N ational Trade Data Bank
and several other U.S. government resources such as the Economic Report of
the President. This group was very interested in economic data, trade
information and other business sources. I explained something about
subject searchin g using Gopher Jewels and Veronica. We were actually
able to demonstrate a Veronica search successfully.

I was invited to lunch with Isabel Olivera, CENDOC director; Luis
Pierrent, ESAN-DATA director; and Professor Luis Piazzon, head of the
Finance department and current president of the RCP. Working with this
group certainly emphasized the reality of the uneven distribution of
resources in Peru. ESAN is a cutting-edge institution by any standard and
has the resources to provide excellent training for both students and
faculty in the use of all forms of information technology. Hopefully,
ESAN will contin ue to contribute to the effort to assist the national
networking effort in Peru by supporting the RCP. The ESAN workshop was
really a challenge for me, but perhaps it was the most productive session
of the trip. The participants were the most technicall y experienced
library workers in Peru. I felt very fortunate to be able to meet with
them and share my experiences.

I returned from ESAN about 5:00 for a scheduled meeting with
Pamela Corey-Archer, the Director of USIS. She had had what for a senior
diplomat amounts to very bad day, since as a chief public affairs officer,
she was dealing with the Cuban refugee crisi s and the seemingly imminent
U.S. invasion of Haiti. We talked briefly about my experiences and about
the possibilities for use of Internet resources by USIS and other Embassy
staff. She felt that it was a potentially great information resource and
that she hoped the USIS library could take advantage of it.

September 16
This last morning consisted of a series of meetings. Iliana and I
first visited the Fulbright Commission office to meet with Dr. Paredes and
some of her staff. We discussed some of the organizational issues
involved with setting up networks and informa tion servers. Through their
RCP account, they will be able to open up and maintain communication with
Fulbrighters from Peru who are in the United States and also gather and
post information about opportunities in Peru for U.S. academics. Dr.
Paredes ha s a great sense of the possibilities and is very committed to
the process.

Our second visit was to the National Library, a beautiful colonial
building in the center of Lima. Iliana and I received a brief tour and
visited the Assistant Director, Ms. Edith Begazo Herrera. A reference
librarian demonstrated some of their databas es and we saw an exhibit of
historical photographs in the process of being cataloged and transferred
to CD-ROM. Construction will begin soon on a new building that will make
many technological advances possible.

We then visited the library and bookstore of the Centro de
Estudios Peruanos, a non-governmental academic institution to foster
humanities and social science research. Librarian Vicki Garcia gave us a
tour. I also purchased several books for the NMSU L ibrary from the
excellent collection in the bookstore.

Roya Taraz accompanied me to the last seminar of the trip on
Friday afternoon at the Colegio San Silvestre, a private, British school
for girls. Ms. Eliana Alegre, computer science teacher and Yuri Herrera
from RCP helped with the technical details. Ab out 40 people attended,
mostly teachers and a few students. Although I had planned to do this
presentation in Spanish (as with most of the others) we decided to do it
in English since many of the teachers recently arrived from the UK were
more comfortabl e in that language. It was an interesting group. We used
the RCP gopher again as the springborad for exploring the Internet, but
the audience immediately wanted to go to European and UK gophers instead
of those in the U.S. So we visited the gopher of C ambridge University
Press, Oxford and several other universities. We did not have very good
luck searching English library catalogs and I blame my lack of experience
with this area of the Internet. But, the group seemed very intrigued by
the possibiliti es. We also spent a lot of time in the electronic book
archives and mailed several poems and other short pieces to the school’s
account. The literature teacher seemed delighted at the possibility of
downloading e-texts of many English classics, includin g all of
Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. We also found an e-journal on the
Electronic Newsstand devoted to lesson plans using the Internet. This we
also mailed to the school’s account. The session lasted till almost 5:30
and those who stayed until the end seemed inclined to continue. This will
probably be a very active group as they become more familiar with the
resources and the access process.

After this final program of the trip, I met Iliana Shoobridge in
the evening for a concert by Peruvian singer and composer, Susana Baca,
who presented an excellent program of “musica criolla” and “nueva
cancion.” This was a wonderful way to end the trip . I arrived at the
airport on Saturday morning at 4:30 am and arrived in El Paso at 7:30 in
the evening.

CONCLUSIONS

I still have a lot of information to process from this experience,
but I will attempt a short summary. Peru leads the way in Latin America
in providing access to the Internet for academic institutions,
organizations and private individuals. While the cost may be prohibitive
for many, the RCP has plans to bring the cost down as the user base
expands. One of the most difficult jobs will be to train new users to use
network services productively and to think of the Internet as a community
of users. The RCP has taken the initiative in training through the new
RENACE project with the Ministry of Education. I would say that the
process has at least begun, not only in Lima, but also at the two
universities I visited in Arequipa and Trujillo. The future m ay bring
changes in the telecommunications infrastructure that will make network
access more functional and affordable for more people. The RCP is working
to help bring these changes about at the national level in Peru.

Library workers are just beginning to realize the benefits of
networking. For many of them, especially those at the poorer public
institutions, the priority is for basic access to books, journals and
computers. Perhaps these presentations will give the m a few ideas that
they can put to practical use in their libraries, even if it is only the
realization that they can begin to communicate more quickly with their
library colleagues in other institutions.

Certainly one of the harshest realities is that of the great
disparity between poor public institutions and wealthy private ones. Will
the gap continue to widen, or will Peruvian institutions see a need to
reinforce public universities so that they can continue to provide higher
education that ordinary citizens can afford? Perhaps these issues seem
too grand and unrelated to this project, but no one can visit Peru without
being constantly reminded of the inequalities in the society. It remains
to be s een whether computer networking will be used as a tool for
development that will benefit many sectors of society, or as simply one
more manifestation of uneven development that benefits only the wealthier
sectors.

USIA Peru Trip Report September 1994 Molly Molloy

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