Of Interest 1.31.12: The Virtual Image Collection of the Biblioteca Pública Piloto de Medellín

Gonzalo Escovar, Amelia y Pastor

The Biblioteca Pública Piloto de Medellín para América Latina was founded 59 years ago in Medellín, Colombia under a UNESCO program that supported the creation of public libraries throughout the world; it was the second library created under the auspices of the program. This public library has evolved into the role of a major curator of local and regional cultural and artistic history by becoming a leader in the push for the conservation of documents and images of historical importance.

The library's first step towards the preservation of the region's visual heritage was the 1980 purchase of 7,000 glass plate negatives made by the seminal Colombian photographer Benjamín de la Calle. This purchase lead to the eventual acquisition and preservation of a vitally important photographic collection of 1.7 million images, making it one of the four most important resources of photographic cultural heritage material in Latin America.

Benjamin de la Calle, unidentified

The library has begun to digitize their collection and has made a selection of images available on their website. Among the highlights of this digitized collection are the images of Foto Rodríguez, Benjamín de la Calle and Francisco Mejía. To navigate their image base, click on the name of a photographer on the right side of the page below the words "Patrimonio de imágenes." On the following page, in the same location on the righthand sidebar, click on a genre of photographs listed below the name of the photographer, such as "Retratos" (Portraits) or "Urbanismo" (Cityscapes).