On Friday, June 3, 2016 the UC-Mexico Initiative Mission project exploratory meeting held at the Huntington Library. Twenty-four participants representing libraries, archives, museums, preservation and conservation education, and other cultural heritage programs from both the United States, Mexico, and at least four indigenous nations (Acjachemen, Tongva, Ohlone, Chemeheuvi) to explore the potential for a multinational partnership to document the history and cultural, historic, and ecological impact of the missions along El Camino Real from Baja California Sur (Mexico) through Baja California (Mexico) up to Alta California (United States).
The framing effort for this project is a bi-national effort to receive UNESCO World Heritage Status for El Camino Real de las Californias (see: http://californiamissionsfoundation.org/traveling-el-camino-real/ ), as described by INAH's Director of World Heritage, Dr. Francisco Javier López Morales.
The most critical needs identified at the meetings include the (1) creation of a union catalog of the books, monographs, artwork, and realia associated with the missions. All of these materials are at risk throughout the missions, and the rate at which the monographs and manuscripts held by the missions are disappearing is alarming; (2) the physical preservation/conservation of the missions and their cultural artifacts; and (3) the protection of the missions as cultural heritage sites.
Since the UC Libraries have both a history of creating and contributing to union catalogs as well as working with a variety of descriptive metadata standards (e.g. Melvyl; OAC; Calisphere; the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research’s projects such as ESTC, CCILA; etc.), the UC-Mexico Mission Project would like to build on that expertise. Specifically, the Project partners are looking to the UC Libraries to provide leadership, expertise, methodologies, infrastructure, and ongoing maintenance of a union catalog.
One goal of the project is to include site- and culturally-specific information about the individual missions, the different indigenous communities that interacted or were associated with each mission, and the unique impact that each mission had on the landscape, culture, and history of each region.
Digitization (or digitalización in Spanish) is of interest as a long-term goal but is not the most immediate pressing issue. Concerns were expressed about the expense of digitization; long-term strategies to establish sustainable funding to maintain digital collections were identified as necessary before wholesale digitization is contemplated.