The National Book Institute
The first director of INL was the poet Augusto Meyer. Already in the 1920s he was a prominent Gaucho (southern) author, a conspicuous participant in the circle of intellectuals of the Livraria do Globo, in Porto Alegre, sometimes frequented by the then deputy Getdlio Vargas. In opposition to the DIP, which linked its actions directly to the executive power and controlled it through the police, the INL was subordinated to the Ministry of Education and housed in the National Library, a literary temple rooted in imperial history (Moritz Schwarcz 2002). In general, its functions were those of a supervisory or State control body over books that could be legally published or imported. On the one hand, rules were established for the legal deposit of works and instruments to compose the “national bibliography”, a permanent census of new books published in the country. On the other hand, INL was in charge of promoting the development of public libraries and the organization of a coherent record of all the books historically written about Brazil (Ribeiro 1943: 52).
The “Public Libraries” Section was directed by Liberato Soares Pinto. His management was inspired by the model of North American libraries and by the aim of achieving an organization similar to the Public Library Protection Commission that Domingo F. Sarmiento established in Argentina in the 19th century. To plan its work, this section first applied a survey of the few libraries of all types existing in the national territory, an essential step in order to carry out the technical unification of public education and idealize the citizen as a reader. It then sought to improve cataloguing techniques and the technical training of librarians. Finally, it assumed a pedagogical role: ‘“It is not enough to guide the reader, it is necessary to create him’” (L. Soares Pinto, in Ribeiro 1943: 52). The INL made considerable resources available to buy books and to distribute them in public libraries already in existence or to be created, especially in regions far from the main capitals. The head of the section referred to “recommendable books for people’s mental health” (ibid.)