May 28, 2022

Digital Collections: Brown Library Fortifies Latin American Collaborative Venture

From the University of Texas at Austin:

A project aimed at building a major research tool for the global study of Latin America at The University of Texas at Austin has just gotten a significant new academic partner.

The John Carter Brown Library (JCBL) at Brown University will join the Primeros Libros project, which strives to build and preserve a digital collection of the first books (primeros libros) printed in Mexico before 1601.

Primeros Libros was initiated in 2010 by a consortium of institutions led by the Benson Latin American Collection at The University of Texas at Austin, Biblioteca Histórica José María Lafragua at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla and the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives at Texas A&M University.

The monographs in the collection represent the first printing in the New World, and are primary sources for the research of cultural history, linguistics, religious studies and related fields.

Of the 220 distinct works believed to have been produced in Mexico before 1601, approximately 135 surviving titles are held in institutions around the world.

The project seeks to acquire at least one example of each title, while also digitizing as many duplicate copies of these works as are available. Duplicates facilitate scholarly inquiry, since marginalia, typographical variants, ownership marks and other copy-specific attributes are often critical for interpretation by scholars.

At least 369 surviving primeros libros are believed to be in existence. However, in the course of the project, previously unknown holdings have been revealed in the collections of project participants.


The project Web site  — which was built and is hosted by the University of Texas Libraries and the Texas Digital Library — holds digital copies of these works in a variety of formats (e.g., JPG, JPF, PDF). It also offers book viewers, navigational aids and metadata describing the materials. The digital collections of Primeros Libros are made freely available to the world.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.