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Panel 10, Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 11:00 am-12:30 pm
Moderator: Melissa Gasparotto, Rutgers University
Presenters: Kumaree Ramtahal, University of the West Indies; Elmelinda Lara, University of the West Indies; Sarah Aponte, City College of New York
Rapporteur: Ellen Jaramillo, Yale University
The first presentation was “Opening Doors to Our Cultural Heritage: the Indian Caribbean Museum of Trinidad and Tobago” by Kumaree Ramtahal, University of the West Indies. Ramtahal began with a brief overview of Trinidad and Tobago’s history and geography. The nearby islands were administered as one colony and achieved independence as one state in 1962. The country enjoys a very unique ethnic mix, where the most dominant ethnic groups in the population are of African and East Indian descent. When slavery was abolished among the British colonies in 1838, plantation economies sought other sources of cheap labor. When attempts to draw Europeans proved unsuccessful, indentured workers from the Indian subcontinent were contracted and on May 30, 1845 the first East Indian immigrants arrived. Between 1845 and 1917, approximately 144,000 East Indians came to Trinidad and Tobago as part of a widespread migration of laborers within the British Empire. Only 29,448 returned to India. By 1871 East Indians formed a quarter of Trinidad’s population, and by 1990 their descendants form the single largest ethnic group in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Indian Caribbean Museum in Carapichaima, Trinidad is dedicated to the preservation and memory of the rich cultural heritage of over one million East Indians who settled in various parts of the Caribbean. It is a unique and specialized non-governmental organization, opened on May 7, 2006. Its collection was assembled through field trips by its administrators, and grows through gifts and donations of artifacts and documents. Its vision is to serve the public, providing an informative and enjoyable visiting experience, organize events such as lectures and workshops, to develop collaboration with other organizations and to forge links with other stakeholders in culture, education and tourism. Its purpose is to collect, restore, preserve, arrange and display artifacts and cultural documents relating to the East Indian diaspora in the Caribbean. There are household, agricultural and musical artifacts, print resources, historical documents, coin and art collections. There is a reference library, and a replica of an East Indian clay house on the museum grounds.
The village in which the Museum is located is a tourist attraction site, with four other cultural sites endorsed by the Ministry of Tourism, Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago celebrates Indian Heritage Month every May and also an official holiday known as Indian Arrival Day, so the number of visitors noticeably increases during that time. In 2008, National Geographic included the Museum in its book Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations, which showcases spiritual places and guides travelers who wish to visit them. Rich in social history and cultural heritage, the collection reflects human rights issues, Indian cuisine, religion, education and music. There is anticipated collaboration with a proposed Museum in Kolkata, India (Calcutta) dedicated to its early emigrants in the Diaspora. Plans have been made for creating a botanical garden with some of the rare endangered plants of Indian origin in the museum’s outdoor space, and to erect a permanent screen on a Museum wall for showing historical films and documentaries. Challenges to the Museum include a lack of professional expertise in digitization and preservation, the need to develop finding tools for items in the collection, and because it is a non-profit organization, finances, space, security staffing and collection development.
The second presentation was “Illegal Immigration into Trinidad and Tobago: Human Rights and Justice” by Elmelinda Lara, University of the West Indies. Lara began by showing a map of Trinidad and Tobago and its proximity to North and South America, in order to visualize immigration to Trinidad and Tobago. Her presentation concentrated on immigration patterns during the past five years based on a scan of local newspapers, and highlighted broader social implications and human rights issues.
Immigration to Trinidad and Tobago preceded Columbus, as it was practiced by the native peoples in moving about the Caribbean Islands and establishing trade routes. Today there are patterns of intra-regional migration, migration based on seasonal labor needs, and Trinidad and Tobago have always been a link to Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. It serves as a resting place and a launch pad for migrants; a supplier and receiver of migrants, both legal and illegal; and the country’s multi-ethnic character reflects that. They have had successive waves of settlers reflecting European settlement and expansion, the enforced migration of Africans and voluntary migration of Asians, subsequent migration of Chinese, Syrians, Lebanese and other Caribbean islanders, and finally, migrants from the rest of the world. Some of the reasons for immigration to Trinidad and Tobago have been its relative economic prosperity compared to the uneven economic development in the region, a well-established network of Caribbean immigrants for support, its political stability, and its geographic location between North and South America.
Statistics do not provide an accurate count of illegal immigrants; the numbers in actuality are much higher than that. A large number of Nigerians and other Africans have been entering recently. Africans mainly come through unauthorized ports of entry or if they come legally, overstay their legal stays. They engage in paid employment and are mainly employed by private security agencies. If caught, they are arrested and face detention, but because of the distance, it is difficult to repatriate them quickly, resulting in long periods of incarceration and complaints of poor treatment. Illegal immigrants from other Caribbean countries are by and large employed in both skilled and unskilled jobs in any trade. If caught, they are deported quickly, and because of the proximity, they often return. Among Central and South American illegal immigrants, a significant number of women work in the sex trade, and this human trafficking is a cause of concern to the government. Chinese illegal immigrants also come through unauthorized ports of entry or if they come legally, overstay their stay. There have been reports of collusion with authorities or persons unknown to receive work permits for a fee, and also in human trafficking and criminal activity. Chinese illegal immigrants face deportation but in some instances they are regularized because they don’t depend on the government for employment and they create businesses which are seen as a boon to the economy.
In terms of human rights dimensions, the basic human rights of illegal immigrants are not protected. There are reports of sweat shops, inhumane conditions and habitation, Chinese workers sleeping in restaurants, etc. In the case of Africans, lengthy incarceration prior to repatriation leads to complaints of poor treatment, and they were at one time kept in prisons with common criminals. The government has since established detention centers. In cases of human trafficking, the victims/illegal immigrants aren’t paid for their labor, their passports are confiscated by the traffickers, and they are reluctant to go to the authorities because they are here illegally. The response of the government has been to enact an anti-trafficking in persons law, and to establish a financial intentions unit that tracks and investigates sources of funds used in illegal activities that involve immigrants.
The third presentation was “Preserving and Documenting the Presence of Dominicans in New York during the Early 20th Century” by Sarah Aponte, City College of New York. Dominicans are one of the largest and fastest-growing Latino population groups in the United States. The greatest concentrations are in the New York/New Jersey region. The New York City borough of the Bronx has the largest Dominican population, while Washington Heights/Inwood is the most populous neighborhood.
Dominicans have been coming to the U.S. since 1613 when Juan Rodríguez, a Black or Mulatto from Santo Domingo, was brought to the New York area by a Dutch merchant ship exploring the northeast coast of North America. After landing in New York harbor, Rodríguez was left for a few months while the Dutch crew returned to the Netherlands. He was still there when another Dutch ship arrived in the area which was populated by Native Americans. This makes him the first recorded non-native person residing in the Hudson Bay area, first non-native merchant, first immigrant, first Afro-descendant, first Latino and, of course, the first Dominican to reside in what is today New York. His story was not well-known until the 1990s and today, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute is conducting further research on Juan Rodríguez. The Institute is also compiling information on Dominican immigration to New York from 1892 to 1924, gleaned through the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation website. This material is helping to reconstruct and contextualize the early Dominican presence in the U.S. So far, ships’ passenger lists obtained from the website have helped to compile a list of 5,191 Dominicans who entered the U.S. through Ellis Island. The main characteristics of these immigrants were: they were mainly of color, between 25-34 years of age upon arrival, could afford 1st or 2nd class tickets, carried more than $50, were able to provide an address where they would stay in New York City, and they were overwhelmingly single (until they married and established families). The highest numbers arrived between 1919 and 1921. According to data analyzed from these lists, many of these immigrants became U.S. citizens and established homes and businesses in the New York area.
At the turn of the 20th century there was a vibrant Hispanic cultural and literary circle in New York City. There were 341 Hispanic periodicals published in New York State before the 1960s, mainly written in Spanish. In 1916, at least 29 journals were on the topic of Latin America, highlighting the growing interest in Latin American affairs at that time. For example, Las Novedades, or Las Novedades: España y los Pueblos Hispanoamericanos, a weekly Spanish language publication in New York City, was also distributed to Spain and throughout Latin America. Founded in 1876, it was Dominican-owned between 1914 and 1918. Its articles covered political, literary, business and cultural issues relating to Latin America and of particular interest to the Dominican community in the U.S. and New York. That many articles were written by Dominicans is of interest today because this was occurring at a time that is not generally recognized as being a period of Dominican presence in the U.S. At a time when the numbers of Dominicans in New York City was presumed to be relatively small, Las Novedades was widely distributed and published much about an active Dominican community in the city. In 1915, the publication announced that the intellectual, essayist, philosopher, philologist and literary critic Pedro Henríquez Ureña, one of the most prominent Dominican writers of all time, had joined its editorial staff. Scholars use the articles he published to trace his political thought regarding the U.S. The headquarters of the journal was also home to a library, bookstore, and printing office offering services to travelers and residents. They even had a department that served as a clearinghouse for questions from Dominicans in the U.S. and New York, and Las Novedades serves as a source that documents the growth of this community since it published the names of persons arriving or departing the city. Aponte says this is a work in progress and she intends to continue recovering works published in Las Novedades written by or about Dominicans and to make them available collectively.
Questions & Comments:
Melissa Gasparotto (Rutgers University) to Lara: The statistics you presented on illegal immigration, are there groups that contest those numbers? Have you seen competing analyses of the numbers of illegal immigrants into Trinidad and Tobago?
Lara: Not just yet because the statistics are recent, covering 2005 to 2009. The ones for 2009-2011 are still in progress (of being compiled).
Mary Jo Zeter (Michigan State University) to Lara: About Chinese immigration, we know the Chinese are investing a lot on infrastructure projects in Africa and Latin America. Are Chinese laborers coming to work on the infrastructure, and overstaying?
Lara: We’ve had successive waves of Chinese immigration since emancipation in the 1920s and 1970s, and we’re seeing another wave of immigration, because we have a Chinese community, albeit a small one. The pattern we’re seeing now is also associated with legal Chinese immigration whereby the Chinese government has worked with ours in contracting short-term Chinese laborers for infrastructure development. What’s happened is that illegal immigrants and also the Chinese criminal element have used that opportunity to illegally enter.
Gasparotto to Ramtahal: You mentioned a few organizations appearing in the educational archives that’s included in the collection, and one was a Canadian organization?
Ramtahal: The Canadian Mission, a Presbyterian-based organization sought to educate the East Indian community, teaching them to read and write in English. They studied Hindi, and published books and hymns in order to convert the East Indians to Presbyterianism. They opened several primary and secondary schools and were instrumental in educating the community.
Gasparotto: Are the Canadian Mission’s documents available outside of Trinidad and Tobago?
Ramtahal: They should be available in their own archives and some are also in the library where I work (University of the West Indies), but the Museum has a lot of their documentation.
Zeter to Ramtahal: Are you in the process of cataloging the Museum’s documents collection?
Ramtahal: I don’t work for the Indian Caribbean Museum. As a new organization they lack a lot of professional expertise in preservation, information technology, etc. that needs development.
Nerea Llamas (University of Michigan) to Ramtahal: You talked about the Museum collaborating with a museum in Kolkata; are there strong ties between these countries?
Ramtahal: They communicate through their High Commissions and network to bring artists on tours through the Caribbean to showcase the culture.
Gasparotto to Aponte: I wasn’t aware until now of the Dominican publications in New York for this time period; besides Novedades, are there more?
Aponte: Yes, we’re still tracing them all, but as far as we know, that was the only Dominican-owned one at that time. We found out that El Diario La Prensa was at one point owned by a Dominican.
Panel 17, June 1, 2011, 9:00-10:30 am
Moderator: Héctor Morey, Library of Congress
Presenters: Melissa Gasparotto, Rutgers University; Diane Napert, Yale University; Craig Schroer, University of Texas at Austin; Anton du Plessis, Texas A&M University; Alison Hicks, University of Colorado, Boulder
Rapporteur: Brenda Salem, University of Pittsburgh
The presentations on this panel described initiatives that made use of the latest information technology to provide better library service and to enhance access to information.
The first presentation, titled, “Search Engine Optimization for the Research Librarian, or How Librarians Can Beat Spammers at Their Own Game” was given by Melissa Gasparotto, a librarian at Rutgers University. Citing a project on search engine optimization she worked on, Gasparatto demonstrated how assigning appropriate high quality metadata can be placed in online academic works in order to place them higher on the results lists of search engines such as Google. She started out by explaining that Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a set of practices that modify elements of a web page in order for the page to have higher visibility among the results of particular search engine queries. All search engines have guidelines and best practices for SEO in order to make website more readable for both search engines and humans. However, SEO has gotten a bad reputation because it is something that spammers have long taken advantage of by means of inaccurate metadata and link farms to promote low quality content.
Gasparotto acknowledged doubts about whether SEO is appropriate for academia, but asserted that indeed, SEO is something that can be used to academia’s advantage, whether it’s for online journal articles, a database, an institutional repository, or an open access journal. Some of the reasons for the importance of applying good SEO practices in online academic work are the growing importance of open access and the higher probability that such work will be indexed by Google Scholar web crawlers. The practices that apply specifically to making academic works more accessible on the open web through search engines like Google Scholar is known as Academic Search Engine Optimization (ASEO), which is of particular use to librarians.
She continued by describing her project on optimizing her online bibliography of U.S. Lesbian Latina History and Culture. She mentioned that this was a particular good case study because searches for “lesbian latina” often result in links to pornographic sites, which make legitimate academic studies on lesbian Latinas hard to find. The project goals and methodology were based on an article written by Martha Kelehan about her project with two colleagues at SUNY-Binghamton on optimizing the SUNY-Binghamton website. These goals were to 1) increase the bibliography’s page rank for a targeted set of search terms, 2) increase the number of search engine referrals, and 3) increase the number of page views. She outlined the methodology of her project, which included first measuring the natural ranking of the online bibliography, then using analysis tools to select target keywords, optimizing the bibliography using those keywords, and finally measuring the page ranking after the optimization. This took her about six months, noting that SEO is a long-term process. Among the analysis tools she used were Google Trends, Google Insights Keyword Tool, Google Adwords, and Topicmarks. It turns out that the bibliography’s ranking was surprisingly high to begin with for many of the keyword searches she had chosen for the study, so no optimization was needed for half of the target keywords. To optimize the keywords, Gasparotto added some metadata to the site’s HTML code. At the end of her project, the site’s ranking improved significantly for her chosen keyword search strings. Gasparatto concluded her presentation by listing best practices for those wishing to optimize their online academic works, as well as recommended reading on SEO.
The second presentation was titled, “Digging for Treasure: Zarzuelas and Other Gems in the Historical Sound Recording Collection at Yale University” and was given by Diane Napert, a catalog librarian at Yale University. In this presentation, Napert described a grant-funded project that she participated in to catalog the large number of 78 rpm recordings that make part of Yale’s Historical Sound Recording Collection (HSCRC), focusing on their collection of zarzuela recordings. She started out by giving a short history and overview of the HSRC, which is strong in Western classical music, as well as American musical theater and spoken word recordings. She then described the project, which was funded by a $789,000 Mellon grant. The institutions that participated in this project were Yale, Stanford, New York Public Library’s Rogers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, and later Syracuse. In the end, the project contributed over 24,000 records to OCLC, which, she noted, is small compared to the number of 78 rpm recordings that remain uncataloged, but is a significant number nonetheless. In a typical cataloging record, she added access points for people and groups who contributed to the recording and was successful in connecting arias to the correct opera and excerpted songs to the correct musicals. The recordings that were cataloged came from over 360 recording labels, particularly Columbia, Edison, Decca, Gramophone, among others.
Napert gave an overview and history of the zarzuela, which is a lyric-dramatic genre that comes from Spain and originated in the mid to late 1600s. When cataloging zarzuelas, Napert used The Zarzuela Companion, written by Christopher Webber. Napert went on to play several samples of 78 rpm zarzuela recordings. The samples included: 1) a 1906 recording of “Vals del Caballero de Gracia” from La Gran Vía, written by Federico Chueca and sung by baritone Luigi Baldassare, 2) a 1924 recording of “Al Pensar en el Dueño de mis Amores” from Las Hijas del Zebedo, written by Ruperto Chapí and sung by soprano Elvira de Hidalgo, 3) a 1906 recording of “Ven Rodolfo” from El Anillo de Hierro, written by Pedro Miguel Marqués and sung by soprano Carmen Fernández de Lara and 4) a 1905 recording of “Granadinas” from Emigrantes, written by Tomás Barrera. One of the success stories of the project was that the great-granddaughter of famous soprano Paquita Correa was able to hear recordings of her great-grandmother for the first time. The great-granddaughter had been unable to find her recordings in Spain but was made aware of the collection at Yale. Napert played a sample of one of Correa’s recordings, which was “Brindis” from Apolinar Brull y Ayerra’s Ángel Caído.
Napert ended her presentation by mentioning the fairly new Library of Congress’ National Jukebox website (http://www.loc.gov/jukebox), which provides access to many American recordings made between 1901 and 1925. She also showed a screenshot of the HSCR project website, and mentioned that there are some non-zarzuela recordings on the site. She thanked Richard Warren, the curator of the HSRC and Nicole Rodriguez, who is a Library Services assistant at HSRC. She concluded by mentioning other types of Latin American recordings that are part of the HSRC and might be of interest to SALALM members.
The following presentation, titled “Primeros Libros: A Working Model of Institutional Collaboration” was given by Craig Schroer, an electronic resources librarian for the Benson Collection at the University of Texas, Austin and Anton du Plessis, a curator for the Mexican Colonial Collection at Texas A&M University. In the presentation, they described the “Primeros Libros” project, which is a collaboration between their institutions and certain Mexican institutions to digitize the earliest publications in colonial Mexico. Schroer started out by giving an overview of the “Primeros Libros” collection, which is an online digital collection of books printed in Mexico between 1539 and 1601, also known as Mexican incunabula. Representative of the earliest output of the printing press in the New World, these books include doctrinas and vocabularios, as well as mathematical and scientific works. The goal of the project is to acquire at least one copy of the 115 titles of early Mexican publications that are still believed to exist today. Ideally they would like to acquire more than one copy because of the variations found in individual copies, such as marginalia and other owner-specific marks. Currently, they have 41 distinct titles and 65 total copies, but hope to have 84 distinct titles and 174 total copies after completing phase 2 of the project. This is a substantial number considering the relatively small number of items still in existence.
Schroer then gave a brief history of the project, which was begun by Texas A&M University and the University of Texas, Austin. Their website was launched in August 2010 and is maintained by UT Austin. There are various institutions in Mexico, Spain, and the United States that are partners in the project. Schroer stated that the purpose of their presentation was to promote the project and encouraged anyone at an institution that held similar material to consider contributing. Another purpose of the presentation was to give an example of an international and intercultural collaboration between institutions. Technological issues in digitizing, storing, and making available large amounts of data can often be a barrier for many institutions, so Schroer considers this collaboration a sharing of strengths and weaknesses, and a look at how the different partner institutions can contribute. They have addressed the issues of lack of technology and infrastructure in creative ways, such as lending out portable, preservation-quality scanners or having an institution with high-quality scanning capacity digitize another institution’s books. Establishing contacts with institutions also raises awareness of holdings that may not appear on OCLC or any listing at all. Digitizing these books promotes these institutions and raises awareness of the scholarly value of the books themselves. Also, in checking the condition of the books before scanning, curators are alerted to the need for repair of some of these books. Collaboration with certain institutions has helped them to understand the Mexican rare book trade, as well as the political structure among institutions and individuals in Mexico. This has helped them find opportunities and establish connections that would otherwise not have been possible.
They have backup copies of the digitized books stored at institutions such as the Texas Digital Library, the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, and Fresnet. They currently have about 2 TB of information. They are constantly learning new things and finding new applications for the project. Du Plessis then described an unfortunate situation in which a package of CDs of digitized books arrived damaged from Spain, with some of the CDs missing. Schroer concluded the presentation by urging anyone at an institution with material to contribute to contact him or du Plessis.
The final presentation was given by Alison Hicks and was titled “QR Codes en Español: Point of Need Mobile Library Services.” In her presentation, Hicks, who is a Romance Languages librarian at the University of Colorado, Boulder (UCB), described how she has used QR codes to better serve and reach out to students. She started out by stating that she feels that mobile technology is the next big thing in information access. She then asked how many people use a mobile device to connect to the Internet, how many people know what a QR code is, and how many people have actually scanned a QR code. Hicks explained that there is a growing number of people using mobile devices with access to the Internet. Librarians need be aware that these devices are used in different ways than laptops. Two things that need to be kept in mind are that these devices are ubiquitous and that they’re constantly connected to the Internet. Hicks feels that this ubiquity and connectivity allows librarians to provide “point of need” library services and to connect the physical and the virtual. Ultimately, the result would be a larger return on investment. Hicks then showed a clip from the television show CSI that explains QR (quick response) codes, which can be scanned by a mobile phone, which then opens up a specific web page. In order for the mobile phone to convert the code to a web address, a QR code reader application needs to be installed on the phone. There are also many programs for creating QR codes. The codes can link either to a URL, to text, to a digital business card, or they can connect you by phone to a specific phone number.
In the Fall of 2010, QR codes were introduced at UCB’s Norlin Library and in the Spring of 2011, they were introduced at the language departments that Hicks serves. Microsoft Tag was used to create the codes because of its interface, its good statistical functionality, and because other places at the UCB campus used it. Posters with QR codes that linked to maps of the library, tutorials, the catalog, and other help options were placed all around the Norlin Library and dormitories. In the language departments and library stacks, she placed QR codes that linked to her business card so students could contact her for research help. She felt that the results at the library (500 total scans) were successful enough to continue with the initiative. However, the statistics for the language departments weren’t so good (only 8 scans). Among the lessons learned from this project were the importance of educating users on QR codes and having other ways of accessing library information besides QR codes, since not everyone uses them. She concluded by giving tips and advice on implementing QR codes to those who would want to do so at their own institutions.
Questions & Comments:
Gasparotto asked Hicks if there had been any vandalism of QR codes. Hicks replied that there had been no vandalism.
Peter Stern (University of Massachusetts) asked why the QR codes Hicks used were in color. Hicks replied that it was the style of the proprietary Microsoft Tag QR code.
Peter Johnson (Princeton University) asked Schroer and du Plessis how their “Primeros Libros” project differed from a similar endeavor taken by the Gale Cengage company (a digitized collection based on Sabin’s bibliography). Du Plessis responded that “Primeros Libros” is a scholarly project and that participants get to keep the digital files of their holdings. Also, PDF files of the books can be freely downloaded. However, he hadn’t heard of the Sabin project and didn’t know how many of the books in their project are already in the Sabin project. Schroer emphasized that one of the advantages of “Primeros Libros” is that it’s open access and not commercial.
Lawrence Woodward (Government Printing Office) asked Napert what preservation efforts have been made for the 78 rpm records and whether there had been efforts to digitize the recordings. Napert replied that they were placed in acid-free boxes and kept in an appropriate environment. The reason they have not been digitized is that Yale wants to take an inventory of the recordings and determine which are the rarest, and therefore highest, on the priority list to digitize, but has not yet done so. Woodward then suggested to Schroer and DuPlessis that they visit the Rosenberg Library where they have on exhibit copies of some of the earliest books printed in the Western Hemisphere.
Napert asked Hicks to clarify what “QR” stands for.
Peter S. Bushnell (University of Florida) stated, regarding digitizing the 78 rpm recordings, that there may be difficulties regarding copyright and public domain. He also asked Napert how she was able to determine the dates of the recordings. Napert replied that she used certain books and discographies as references and acknowledged that there are difficulties in navigating around copyright.
The panel concluded with the moderator thanking the rapporteur and the presenters.
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