Date: 2006
Owner: Regis Lachaume
Source Type: Images


The main library at UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) was built by architect Juan O'Gorman in 1953 using mosaics to display pre-Colombian motifs. Since its creation in 1910, the National University has been the leading institution in Mexico for both scientific research and the general intellectual community. Not only do the plurality of university students attend UNAM, but it is also the single largest employer of full time researchers; in 1974, about 17% of all Mexican researchers worked for this university. UNAM is thus an incredibly influential institution with the capacity to both shape the research interests of students and, through funding and hiring decisions, influence the direction of research.

UNAM exerts an almost gravitational pull on Mexican scientific and intellectual life, concentrating them in Mexico City and, significantly, in public institutions. Public universities dominate Mexican education and scientific research, thus government funding is able (to a certain degree) to direct the ends to which science is applied. Private scientific institutions, like Argentina's Instituto de Biologia, have far more autonomy.

While the National University has the potential to influence Mexican intellectuals, very few Mexicans are in a position to be swayed by state funded education. In the 1980s, only 2% of all Mexicans were university educated. This library itself is indeed a relative rarity in Mexico; in 1980, there were only 300 libraries in the entire country and, like universities, many of these were located at the governmental center: Mexico City.

Reference: Camp, Roderic A. Intellectuals and the State in Twentieth-Century Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985.

CITATION: Biblioteca central de la Universidad Autonoma de Mexico en Ciudad Universitaire en Mexico, D.F. 11/21/2006. Public Domain.