Currently viewing the tag: "Caribbean"

Panel 14, June 18, 2012, 1:30 pm-3:30 pm
Moderator: Angela M. Carreño (New York University)
Presenters: Barbara Chase (The University of the West Indies, Barbados); Valerie Clarke (The University of the West Indies, Barbados) presented by Elizabeth Watson, Campus Librarian; Ann Marie White and Jessica Lewis (The University of the West Indies, Barbados); Rapporteur: Jeffrey Staiger (University of Oregon)

Angela Carreño welcomed everyone and introduced the speakers.

First to give her presentation, “Representations of Love and Erotica in Caribbean Writings,” was Barbara Chase, Head of Book Acquisitions at the University of West Indies, Barbados, who focused on the example of Barbadian novelists. Chase proposed that it was a sign of these writers’ growing confidence that they had begun to lay claim to genre fiction, which she characterized as popular fiction written for mainstream consumption, with a less complex style, and fewer metaphors and similes, than its literary counterpart. Focusing particularly on the genres of romance and erotica, she enumerated a number of representative works: The Healing Tree by Margaret Knight; Song of Night and Fire in the Canes by Glenville Lovell; A Death in Panama by Robert Williams; Joy Cometh in the Morning by Herbert Reifer; Someone to Watch Over Me by Nailah Folami Imoja; and One Gentle Night by Ben Jordan. While these novels resemble the works of genre fiction from other nations – the speaker cited the precedent of Barbara Cartland – she stressed that these authors included elements that lent the novels in question a Caribbean flavor, such as the use of the plantation as setting, the theme of race, and the issue of beach and tourism culture. One of the distinctive features of genre feature, she stressed at the end of her talk, was that, unlike literary fiction, it always ended with a resolution of the plot.

The second presentation, “Echoes of the Caribbean: Documentation of Tradition and Identity in the Audio Visual Collection” was presented by Elizabeth Watson, Campus Librarian at the University of the West Indies, Barbados on behalf of Valerie Clarke. She related that the Learning Resource Center in her library harbored, in addition to a digital postcard collection documenting Caribbean life and culture, about 1,500 artifacts, realia, segments of oral history, and other items covering such regional topics as sports, women, and calypso music. Observing that audiovisual materials capture nuances of the historical record unavailable in text, and that they facilitate different kinds of learning about the region’s culture, the presenter particularly focused on the themes of women at work and political expression as represented in the collection. Addressing women’s roles in Caribbean culture, the speaker noted that 60% of Barbadian women are involved in the fishing industry. She played an audio clip consisting of women’s cries advertising their various fish as they competed for business in the market place. The speaker went on to observe that music was at the core of the enslaved society, and that the drum in particular was used to send messages in the period before emancipation. She played recent audio clips to illustrate how singers used calypso songs to make political points indirectly, noting that in Barbados, songs have been banned because they expressed political views contrary to powerful interests, but that some candidates have also used Calypso for campaigning purposes. In conclusion, the speaker noted that the audiovisual collections add diversity and depth to static print collections.

The final presentation, “Art, Space and the Caribbean Academic Library,” was given jointly by Jessica Lewis and Ann Marie White from the University of the West Indies, Barbados. They discussed the use of fine art in the library on the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies. The present building, expanded in 1996 and again in 2012, currently holds approximately 70 pieces of fine art, pieces selected both to create a welcoming ambiance in the library and to foster culture awareness. The selections of art pieces were made according to a variety of factors, including theme, proposed placement, medium, size, artistic execution, and relevance to the Caribbean experience. They showed slides representing various examples of the pieces in the collection; some of these reflected the African heritage of the Caribbean people, others, such as a triptych painting by Cathrine Chee-A-Tow of brightly garbed men, illustrated, in the speaker’s words, “the bright atmosphere of the Caribbean.” They noted that fine art can also be used to highlight special collections. The response of library patrons to the integration of fine art into the space of the building has been quite positive. Summing up, the speakers maintained that the investment in fine art in the library was valuable for a number of reasons: it casts the library as a custodian of local culture; it supports the university’s creative arts program; it assists the development of the wider arts community and “last but not least, fine art, unlike other assets, appreciates in value.”

Panel 8, May 31, 2011, 9:00 am-10:30 am

Moderator: Meiyolet Méndez, University of Miami
Presenters: Maria R. Estorino, University of Miami; Béatrice Colastin Skokan, University of Miami; Meiyolet Méndez, University of Miami
Rapporteur: Sarah Yoder Leroy, University of Pittsburgh

 

After Meiyolet Méndez welcomed everyone and introduced the speakers, Maria R. Estorino spoke about building the Cuban Heritage Collection (http://library.miami.edu/chc/) at the University of Miami Libraries. After giving some background on the history of the connection between Cuba and the University of Miami, and the interest in collecting Cuban materials by the University of Miami Libraries over the years, she described the official formation of the Cuban Heritage Collection in 1998, which brought together collections documenting Cuba, the exile experience, and the culture and literature of the Cuban diaspora, which had previously resided in different areas of the libraries. The Cuban Heritage Collection received a grant to build a space for the collections, and in 2003 the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion opened. The Cuban Heritage Collection serves the university, the larger academic community, and the general public, and focuses on four main areas: 1) collection development, 2) preservation and access, 3) teaching, learning and research, and 4) outreach. It brings together, preserves, and makes available primary and secondary materials in all formats, including digital resources. It works with faculty to support instruction at the university, and supports research by sponsoring undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowship. In addition, it coordinates events and exhibitions which reach the general public. Some challenges for the future include ongoing assessment of the collections, building more faculty relationships, and working with a changing donor base, as new demographics and associated relationships emerge.

Béatrice Colastin Skokan followed with a presentation on documenting the Haitian diaspora at the University of Miami Libraries. Miami-Dade is a center of Haitian life in the U.S., where Haitians are the second largest non-English speaking group after Hispanics, and the second largest immigrant population after Cubans. They are a marginalized group, and Special Collections at the University of Miami has made efforts to collect primary source materials documenting the social and political life of this group. The current focus is on collecting papers and documents of local activist groups. It also sponsors public events and outreach, such as the special event entitled Documenting the Fringe, which included a reception and discussion on documenting counter-cultural activism. Special Collections holds the Max Rameau papers (1998-2010) which document his activism for the homeless and the poor within the South Florida communities of the African diaspora. Materials are often acquired through donations from community leaders, and developing relationships is a key component in making this possible. Collecting oral histories is another way they are filling content gaps and documenting intangible culture.

Meiyolet Méndez‘s presentation was entitled “Blueprint for a Collaborative Instruction Model: a Multi-Disciplinary Approach”, and she spoke of developing partnerships with librarians working in other departments of the library in order to enhance the work of both. For example, the Cuban Heritage Collection’s desire to increase the use of its archival and digital material, and the Education and Outreach’s aim to incorporate the use of primary documents in information literacy sessions lead to a natural collaboration. Working together, the two librarians could identify classes with a Latin American/Cuban component, and introduce the Cuban Heritage Collection’s digitized primary materials in an instruction session. The blueprint for collaboration is as follows: identify a department in the library you want to know about, contact the librarians there, meet and identify common goals or needs. Reach out according to your strengths and prior relationships. If you are interested in instruction, identify programs or classes where you might work collaboratively. Document your activities. There are also possibilities for non-instructional collaboration, such as events and exhibits, where volunteering and agreeing to do something new are ways to stay aware of activities in other departments.

Questions & Comments:

Peter Bushnell (University of Florida) asked if there was a charge for non-University of Miami users. Special Collections and the Cuban Heritage Collection are open to all.

Gayle Williams (Florida International University) mentioned that it was a shame Lesbia Varona wasn’t in attendance since she would have so much to add.

Marisol Ramos (University of Connecticut) mentioned that she appreciated the presentation because it is so hard to find materials about the Haitian diaspora, and she is excited to find someone doing this. She is trying to collect Haitian ephemera as well. She is also collaborating with archivists at her institution, and wants to promote more collaboration among librarians.

Gerada Holder (National Library and Information System, Trinidad and Tobago) wondered what the collection strengths were with regard to the Caribbean countries. Colastin Skokan indicated that the University of Miami’s strengths are Jamaican and Haitian materials and the Caribbean Documents collection, which includes slave registers from Trinidad and Tobago, significant rare books, and 19th century materials.

Diane Napert (Yale University) asked whether gifts come with restrictions. Estorino said they are working on a standard deed of gifts for personal papers and organizational papers.

Paul Smith (University of California, Los Angeles) asked whether there is an organization in New York creating an archive of Haitian materials, and whether there was any Haitian migration to Quebec. Colastin Skokan answered that the migration distribution is South Florida, New York, Boston, and Quebec. The University of Miami is starting in South Florida, but some oral histories have been conducted with artists in New York as well. The Schomburg Center may be collecting Haitian diaspora material, but she wasn’t sure.