The 50th Anniversary of CERLALC

The International ISBN Agency warmly congratulates CERLALC (El Centro Regional para el Fomento del Libro en América Latina y el Caribe) on the 50th anniversary of its original foundation.

In 1966 UNESCO agreed on a programme to encourage book production and circulation in developing world countries including recommending centres focused on Latin America and other regions of the world. A formal agreement creating the regional centre in Bogotá, Colombia was signed in April 1971.

Among its first tasks the centre offered training courses in publishing with sessions taking place not only in Bogotá but also in Costa Rica and Argentina. Later, CERLALC expanded its involvement into areas such as the legal frameworks underpinning books and the book industry, copyright issues, coordinating statistics on book sales and production runs, co-publishing models, and metadata.

As adoption of the ISBN in Latin America had been limited, in 1982 CERLALC signed an agreement with the International ISBN Agency to promote the use of the ISBN and to encourage the establishment of more ISBN agencies in the region. The first regional meeting for Latin America took place in 1988 and, since 1991, CERLALC has made available dedicated software to support ISBN assignment by ISBN agencies in Latin America. The software has undergone numerous improvements and developments since then and is now an online system. 

CERLALC's contribution to the widespread implementation of ISBN in the Latin America region cannot be overstated. Before CERLALC's involvement there were ISBN agencies only in Mexico and Brazil yet within a few years, ISBN had been adopted throughout Latin America. CERLALC now has 21 member countries, 19 in Latin America plus Spain and Portugal, each of which has an ISBN Agency.

The International ISBN Agency reserves an ex officio set on its Board for a representative from CERLALC. Currently, the ex officio director is Sr José Diego González Mendoza  who was appointed in 2019 and we very much look forward to continuing our close and effective cooperation with him and with CERLALC. Among those who served previously are Sra María Isabel Deaza Pérez, Sr Bernardo Jaramillo Hoyos and the late Sr Richard Uribe Schroeder.

The International ISBN Agency and its Board, as well as all national ISBN registration agencies heartily wish all colleagues at CERLALC a happy anniversary and many congratulations on all their achievements in the first 50 years!

To find out more about the work of CERLALC.