CLNet, directed by librarian Richard Chabran of UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center and managed by computer resource specialist and librarian Romelia Salinas, is the premier Internet site for US Latino information. The site provides access to print and electronic resource materials in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, with an emphasis on Chicano (Mexican American) resources. There is sporadic coverage of information specific to Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and other Latinos; most text is in English. CLNet began in 1993 as a gopher-based information service and transformed in late 1994 into the current web site. While the gopher is still available, only the web site contains the most current information.
The home page organizes information in ten main sections. Of special interest are an employment center, a museum, and a community center. Elsewhere there are links to information about student scholarships and financial aid, demographic data and statistics. The "Bronze Pages" section invites Latino faculty, staff, and students to develop and link their own personal pages to the site, thereby creating a unique listing of academic colleagues, resource people, and role models. For most librarians, students and faculty, however, the focal points of CLNet will be its library and research center.
The library section of this site identifies major Latino research collections and archives, and offers telnet sessions to the on-line catalogs of selected libraries. There are a number of helpful subject-oriented bibliographies that point to print reference materials. A listing of Latino-related listservs here is dated, however, and includes groups that rarely discuss US Latino issues, if at all. The library also leads to numerous electronic publications, publishers, and on-line bookstores. The research center organizes a massive collection of text files, gopher and web sites, and searchable databases. Topics range from affirmative action, health, Chicana studies, diversity, and a collection of documents relating to the use of the Internet by Latinos. Reports and statistics here have been culled from familiar sources such as the Eric Clearinghouse for Urban Education, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other information has been provided by organizations such as the Inter-University Program for Latino Research and MCLR (the Midwest Consortium for Latino Research), emphasizing the fact that CLNet is very much a cooperative effort among librarians, other professionals, and Latino organizations.
The producers of CLNet note that one unexpected result of the popularity of their site is the growing number of Internet training sessions they've been invited to present. Besides promoting computer literacy in this way, the site also functions as a curricular tool for teaching users about the Chicano experience, and the research process itself. Syllabi, reading lists, and excellent guides on refining a research topic can be found, along with the bibliographies already mentioned. For our profession, CLNet is overall an excellent example of the expert role subject-specialist librarians can take in organizing, utilizing, and teaching the Internet to patrons. Anyone interested in Latino issues will want to explore the many strands of this complex web site.
Susan A. Vega Garcia
Reference & Minority Outreach Librarian
Iowa State University Library
March 19, 1996