Monday April 23rd 2018




Posts Tagged ‘David Block’

David Block Retires

David Block in guatemala

David has been a friend and colleague for most all of our respective careers.  His active involvement with Latin America started when he volunteered to serve in the Peace Corps in Bolivia. I recently read several of Vanderbilt’s Peace Corps papers belonging to a psychologist who was then the director of Peace Corps selection.  He characterizes the early Peace Corps volunteers in these terms: “they are learners, are reaching-out type people, intellectually adventuresome, have a desire to serve tempered with a love of fun and adventure, idealistic but with a realistic appraisal of what they will be up against, and an appropriate modesty; they want to make a contribution to their fellow-man… and they get substantial satisfactions from association with new friends in other lands.”   Those traits, along with his PhD and scholarship on Bolivia, seem a match made in heaven for David’s future career in Latin American librarianship and for his SALALM colleagues who have benefitted from all these talents.

He has been a mentor to countless “SALALMis.”   He has gently, quietly guided all of us in many ways: introducing us to his wide network of contacts and colleagues in Latin America, especially in the Andean region; sharing his expertise on book buying trips and leading LAMP preservation efforts—and who else has brought Pisco sours to those long meetings? And, all along the way, he has prodded us to try to think and act in a more cooperative and sharing way.  Besides serving as president of SALALM, and several terms on the Executive Board, he hosted the annual conference at Cornell.  More importantly, he has helped reframe the vision of his member colleagues and encouraged our organization to move in new directions.  Since we can no longer “have it all”, even at the Library of Congress or the Benson, he has led us toward increasingly collaborative collections efforts in the US, and has aided Latin American libraries in the preservation and digitization of their own archives.  A more recent personal goal involved helping the national library of Peru replace their stolen rare materials.  David is a giver, charitable, kind and smart, with a wry sense of humor and great curiosity.  He seems equally at home with (and actively seeks the opinions of) taxi drivers, rural indigenous, and urban academics.  The development of the Andean collections at Cornell and Latin American collection at the Benson reflect his wide network beyond the standard publishing world to incorporate ephemera, NGO output, organizations small and large, uncommon materials in  a wide range of resources that mirror that time and place in Latin America.  In his travels he has made many friends and colleagues both in Latin America and the US.  We will miss his leadership and expertise but hope our friendships long continue.

Paula Covington

Howard Karno | In Memoriam

Howard Karno was so many things to so many people:  Angelino, born and bred; a student and scholar of Latin America; an innovative and resourceful bookseller; and a husband, father and friend.  Howard was forever a boy trapped in a man’s body; he never lost the capacity for spontaneity and impish behavior.

He had many loves.  He loved the beautiful home that he and Beverly created in the hills of Southern California.  He loved good books, good conversation, good food, and good wine.  He loved people – all sorts of people in more countries than most of us will ever visit.  He remembered them; he kept up with them; he treasured them.  Most of all, of course, he loved Beverly and his family.  They were his greatest joy.

His involvement with Latin America began with graduate study at UCLA.  Howard had the good fortune of doing field work in Peru at a time when the country hosted a number of young researchers from the United States, including Tom Davies, Jesus Chavarría and Peter Klaren, who became life-long friends.  His work on Peruvian modernization resulted in a splendid dissertation but no job in the academy, which was a blessing in disguise.

Necessity being the mother of invention, Howard quickly found his footing in the book trade, establishing a business that combined his knowledge of bibliography with a garrulous personality and instinctive salesmanship.  Enter SALALM.

The marvelous interview that Howard gave to Mark Grover in 2006 offers an account of the ups and downs of his career and memories of working with many SALALM alums.  What he fails to mention is the important role that he and his family played in shaping our organization and building its community.  Howard’s mother, a great cook, even prepared and served a dinner for the UCLA SALALM, which jump-started the libreros’ reception.  Howard’s enormous presence in the Latin American book trade led to the compilation of bookseller information in the various editions of Directory of Vendors of Latin American Library Materials.  Howard never lost the curiosity of a scholar.  He read voraciously and broadly.  SALALM is fortunate that so many of its libreros are people who love books, read books, and learn from books.  Surely, none did so more than Howard.  He knew our libraries’ collections and our interests and many of our institutions’ treasures are a result of his knowledge and efforts.

His generosity was legendary.  He was generous with his time, ready to listen to all. He made each of us feel he truly cared about our lives.  When he saw or read a book that reminded him of someone, he would mail it along to share it.  He never visited a bookstore without buying something as a way to support them. Howard made a room brighter when he entered it and filled it with more laughter and engaging conversation.

Howard’s early Libros Latinos catalogs began with a lema: “As a former professor of Latin American history familiar with the bibliography and sources of out-of-print materials, I will give prompt attention to your requests.”  So he was, and so he did for four decades.

We miss you, Howard.

David Block (University of Texas at Austin) and Paula Covington (Vanderbilt University)

Winter 2011/2012 Newsmakers

Miguel Valladares, formerly of Dartmouth College, has accepted the position as Librarian for Romance Languages at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, beginning on February 20. Felicidades, Miguel!

Meagan Lacy (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis University) has published “The Virtues of a Committed Dilettante: Embracing Nonexpert Expertise” in College and Research Libraries News, February 2012, 73 (2).

David Block (University of Texas at Austin) recently made television news for donating long lost books to the National Library of Peru.

FILs por todas partes


October/November is a good time to visit Peru and Bolivia as both Lima and Cochabamba host book fairs.  Neither should be compared with their better-known South American counterparts in Bogota, Santiago de Chile or Buenos Aires.  But both give a good accounting of book production in their countries.

32 Feria Internacional del Libro Ricardo Palma <>
October 19- November 1, 2011
Held in Parque Kennedy, Miraflores

I counted 90 stands, between publishers and booksellers. Major academic publishers, some listed below, were in full force as were others, e.g. Casa de la Biblia, that produce material not usually of interest to research libraries.

Academic Publishers and their  2011 publications:

Universidad Alas Peruanas. Memorias del arqueologo Eloy Linares Malaga. La Paz despues de la violencia en el Peru. Belaunde, el pueblo lo hizo. El compartir.

Universidad San Martin de Porres. Del cielo a la tierra. Los arrieros de Chuquibamba.

IFEA. La ciudad de Los cholos.

Universidad de San Marcos. La increible historia de una guerra. La casona de San Marcos. Trabajos de historia, religion, cultura y political en el Peru. Juventud y clandestinidad en Lima. La produccion cientifica en San Marcos. Derecho penal en el Tahuantinsuyu.

Also exhibiting, without showing 2011 imprints, were Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, Universidad Ricardo Palma, Congreso de la Republica, Centro Bartolome de las Casas, Banco Central de la Reserva, Fondo Editorial.

The most interesting news I got at the fair is the names of several out of print sources: Casa del Libro Viejo (; Libreria Aleph, Mario Morales owner (I have only the phone number 991964365); IDEAL Libros y Revistas Antiguos del Peru, Av. Nicolas de Pierola,; Libreria Inestable, Porta 185 “B”, Miraflores.

And although they were not at the fair, our old friends at Libreria El Virrey have relocated their store in San Isidro to Bolognesi 510 in Miraflores.  They maintain their sucursal downtown, Pasaje Nicolas de Rivera near the old post office.

V Feria Internacional del Libro de Cochabamba
27 October – 6 November
Campo Ferial de Alalay

Smaller than the Lima fair, but not by much. Argentina, specifically Salta, was this year’s international invitee. Authorities from Cochabamba and Salta announced an agreement whereby collections of Argentine and Bolivian fiction would be exchanged between the two cities and housed in appropriate locations.

The Argentines stole the show with what Los Tiempos reported as forty stands.  Of course, I was there for the Bolivians.  Editorial Nuevo Milenario, a publisher new to me, was showing Edmundo Paz Soldan’s latest novel, Norte. Universidad Mayor de San Andres had several new titles, including Ciudades en transformacion, coordinated by Patricia Urquieta; and Fundacion Tierra had copies of Reconfigurando territorios.

Other Bolivian publishers featuring 2011 imprints included:

Universidad Mayor San Simon- Movimientos sociales en torno al agua en Bolivia.

Fundacion Quipus- La corrupcion en Bolivia and Facetas de la contraversia con Chile.

Museo de Etnologia y Folklore- Reunion anual de etnologia, 24

Vicepresidencia de la Nacion- Archivos militares de Bolivia and Archivos graficos (cartels) de Bolivia

PIEB- Ciudad sin fronteras and Formaciones y transformaciones

Plural- Hablemos de tierras

CEDIB announced a compilation on compact disk of its long-running Bolivian news service, 30 dias.

Some may remember a Bolivian feminist organization, “Mujeres Creando,” from their appearance at a recent LASA meeting.  They’re still at it, mas que jamas, and among the publications they showed in Cochabamba were: La pobreza, un gran negocio; Mujeres creando … mas and Ninguna mujer nace para puta.


La Paz Bookstores

Current Imprints:

Libreria Yachaywasi. Avenida Villazon, Paisaje Trigo 447.  Tel: 2442437.  Near the Universidad Mayor de San Andres (UMSA) and because of its location, the best and largest academically-oriented bookstore in the city.  Especially good for journals.

Libreria Gisbert y Cia. 1270 Comercio.  Large stock but much of it is text books. Closed shelves limit browsing.

Los Amigos del Libro.  Its traditional location on Calle Mercado now houses two fast food restaurants. Currently occupies a less inviting space with a less interesting stock.  Calle Ballivian 1275, next to Libreria Juridica Temis.

Libreria Don Bosco.  1805 16 de Julio (El Prado). Once a very good book store and publisher of scholarly journals, increasingly devotional.

PIEB. Avenida Arce 2799, esquina Calle Cordero. Edificio Fortaleza, piso 6, oficina 601. Features its own publications, including periodicals Tinkazos, Nexos, Temas de debate and Medio ambiente y sociedad.

Plural Editores.  Avenida Ecuador, esquina Rosendo Gutierrez. Wide selection of works published by Plural, including journal back files.

Of specialized interest:

Museo Nacional de Arte. Plaza Murillo, corner of Calle Comercio.

Museo de Etnografia y Folklore (MUSEF). corner Sanjines and Ingavi.

Both museums are dependencies of the Banco Nacional de Bolivia and feature BNB’s publications, but have much additional materials on art and anthropology.

Casa Municipal de la Cultura Franz Tamayo.  Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz, esquina Potosi. Features publications of the Municipalidad de La Paz, including music CDs and films.

 Out of Print:

Libreria BAUL del Libro. Avenida Villazon, Edificio Viveross No. 1957. Near UMSA; large stock of academic books.

Associacion de Libreros Mariscal de Santa Cruz. Many small stalls now consolidated in the newly refurbished Centro Comercial Lanza. North of the San Francisco Church.  Most active on weekends.

Paisaje Comercial Marina Nunez del Prado.  A series of stalls situated along a walkway beside the Rio La Paz.  You descend to river level at several points, e.g. one a half block east (upward) from the corner of 16 de Julio and Camacho.



Latin American Focused Library Collection and Institute Pilot Joint Endeavor

Charles R. Hale

AUSTIN, Texas — The Benson Latin American Collection (BLAC) and the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies (LLILAS) are joining efforts in an inventive approach to achieving common goals.

Effective Sept. 1, the two distinguished Latin American keystone institutions at The University of Texas at Austin will integrate their respective staffs and missions in a three-year plan that places them under a sole directorship.

Dr. Charles Hale, who has served as director of LLILAS since 2009, will helm the LLILAS-BLAC effort to unite the institutions’ student programs, research and scholarly resources related to Latin America. Dr. Juliet Hooker will continue as associate director of LLILAS, and Dr. David Block will become associate director of BLAC.

“Especially in this era of budget scarcity, it is exciting and promising for a university-based initiative to enter a phase of expansion and transformation, raising two venerable institutions to new heights of excellence, while at the same time conserving resources, and taking full advantage of untapped synergies,” Hale says of the collaboration.

The plan exemplifies four key priorities of current university-wide directives on enhancing the benefits of higher education.

  • Hemispheric collaboration. As practices that emphasize horizontal and reciprocal relationships with Latin American colleagues and peer institutions become the prevailing standard, LLILAS-BLAC will lead this collaborative reinvention in the field of Latin American studies.
  • Scholarly integration. BLAC scholarly resources will be developed through increased dialogue with faculty, graduate students and visiting scholars, the principal users of the collection, and faculty consultations will be used to enhance and expand the scholarly program at the BLAC.
  • Public engagement. LLILAS-BLAC will increase its presence to sectors beyond the university by providing educational opportunities, outreach programs and awareness of its work and resources to the larger public.
  • Development. Through a focused effort based on shared goals, this combined site of Latin American studies will attract new resources to support the programs and collections benefitting the global study of Latin America.

“We’re enthusiastic about the prospects for this collective enterprise,” says University of Texas Libraries Director Dr. Fred Heath. “By closely aligning academic teaching and scholarly research with the resources of the university’s collections, we think we’ve hit upon a novel structure that is informed by the strategic goals of the university.”

A program review by the College of Liberal Arts and the University of Texas Libraries at the close of the pilot period will determine the future course of the venture.

“The pilot between LLILAS and BLAC is a natural and innovative way to further strengthen our premier Latin American studies initiatives offered by the university,” says Dr. Randy L. Diehl, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.  “I expect to see many positive outcomes in the area of scholarly collaboration and public engagement. I’m excited to see the future possibilities unfold.”


Travis M. Willmann
Communications Officer
University of Texas Libraries
The University of Texas at Austin
Mail: S5400

Presidential Message August 2011

I would like to congratulate our colleagues for organizing an interesting, efficient and enjoyable conference in Philadelphia this past May. The theme “Preserving Memory: Documenting and Archiving Latin American Human Rights” was timely and of interest to us all. Many excellent presentations were held, thanks to the work of our past president Nerea Llamas. Many thanks as well to our excellent hosts, Joe Holub and David Murray of the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University libraries and our very generous sponsors.

Several important issues were expressed this year at the two Executive Board meetings, the Business meeting and at Town Hall. Executive Board Member-at-Large Sean Knowlton (Columbia University) presented a list of proposals compiled by Patricia Figueroa (Brown University) that represent concerns voiced by SALALM members in recent years:

  • that SALALM change its name to reflect the reality of the work we accomplish; i.e. a name that is more general in nature and by default more inclusive
  • that the SALALM conference be limited to 3 days instead of 5
  • that we eliminate panels and themes from our meeting so that we can devote more time to our committees, regional meetings and vendors
  • that we meet and celebrate SALALM in conjunction with LASA, mimicking the arrangement that MELA and MESA have for their yearly congresses. This arrangement would provide an outlet for SALALM members who must present a paper in order to receive funding to attend. The conference need not take place at the same hotel as LASA, but rather the same city and dates.

While some of these concerns have surfaced at various moments in our organization’s history, the present economic crisis has brought them to the fore once again. We are faced with a shrinking membership; our institutions provide less professional development funding than in the past; and conference costs are rising.

In order to address these proposals, I have named an ad-hoc Membership Survey Committee to collect information, opinions and ideas relating to the above issues. Members include Anne Barnhart (chair), David Block, Mary Jo Zeter, John Wright and Patricia Figueroa. Please respond thoughtfully to their survey which will be sent out in early fall.

A second committee will work concurrently with the Survey Committee to investigate the consequences, cost and feasibility of a name change for the organization. Ideas for new names or new meanings for our existing acronym will be explored. Should the membership agree on the desirability of a name change (via the survey process), the work of this committee will provide helpful information. The SALALM Name Change Committee includes Sócrates Silva, Melissa Gasparotto, Stephanie Miles and Sean Knowlton.

Treasurer Peter T. Johnson put forward a related proposal geared toward increasing membership in our organization. An initial SALALM scholarship of $1,000 will be awarded to a student enrolled in an MLS program (in the U.S.) who intends to work in the field of Latin American Studies, and who will join our organization.

In response to some of the concerns expressed above, I plan to experiment with the format of next year’s SALALM meeting. We will we return to a slightly more economical 4-day schedule; at the same time, I would like to create more time and space to work with each other and with our vendors, who are an integral part of our organization. I plan on repeating a version of the successful Libreros Workshop which was held in Philadelphia and organized by John Wright, Ellen Jaramillo and Stephanie Miles. Based on the feedback I heard, it provided a necessary forum for communicating information about the technological changes we face in our professions. Although I will continue to organize panels, workshops and committee meetings, there will be fewer of them. I encourage committees and affiliated groups who meet or work outside of our annual meeting to consider foregoing a meeting at SALALM if at all possible.

And last but not least, for those of you who have not yet heard, SALALM LVII will be held in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T!), from June 16-19, 2012. Our hosts will be the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago and the Library Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) and meetings will be held at the Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre, Port of Spain. Our theme will be “Popular Culture: Arts and Social Change in Latin America.” I hope that we will be able to attract colleagues from across the Caribbean as well as from South America. A call for papers and will be released soon, and I look forward to receiving your ideas and contributions!


Lynn Shirey
Harvard University

Dispatches from Germany

>Dispatches from Germany
So far we feel right at home. The luggage came off the conveyer; the Budget rental car desk was handy and efficient; the car park opened directly to an expressway system that seems to go everywhere. But, wait, wind farms dot every horizon, their giant propellers slowly turning in the breeze. And there is no urban sprawl. Grain fields and pasturage reach right up to most city limits; even Berlin has yet to grow past its perimeter highway.

My wife and I are beginning our trip with a visit to an AFS student whom we hosted in Ithaca. Ten years later he is a medical student in Greiswald, on the Baltic coast. So we spent yesterday driving the diagonal from Frankfurt to the far northeast of the country. Right now we’re trying to shake the effects of jetlag and too many hours behind the wheel. Before I close this first entry, some basics.
“A” is for autobahns, Germany’s unbelievable superhighway network. They’re an Interstate system, only maintained, and along with the Volkswagen, Adolph Hitler’s only positive legacy. Although speed limits, 120 km/hour, are posted, don’t even think of getting into the passing lane at a speed less than 85 mph and don’t stay there unless you are willing to drive a hundred. “B” is for bicycle; every man, woman and child has one. Germans ride them all over, most without helmets. “C,” well, I can’t think of a “c” word now except “cansado.” But this will pass.

Not wanting to endanger my retired status, I have stayed away from most of the SALALM, but I will serve as your roving reporter, offering updates from venues outside the IAI and the Martim.
I am lodging in a part of the city that was off limits when SALALM met here in 1986. In those days the city lived in the shadow of The Wall. Visitors were never far from it, and Berliners lived with the daily reality that they were never far from freedom or oppression. The Wall is down now, chewed into tiny bits recycled as road fill, but its legacy will be a long one. Even with the incredible reconstruction of the city strange anomalies remain—tram tracks ending in nowhere mark the route of the wall. Enormous apartment blocks still dot the horizon, and no amount of paint and plaster will erase the memory of who built them. There is, apparently, a certain nostalgia for the good old days among some former East Germans. But I suspect that this is disingenuous. No one would want to return to a time when neighbors spied on neighbors, when consumer goods were frightfully scarce and when families were forcibly separated by the force of politics.

Since my last post, I have thought of some “c” words. The first is “c”rane, the tall metal ones. They are everywhere, even in these tough economic times, rebuilding the city. The second is “children.” They’re everywhere. Apparently, Berlin has the highest birthrate in Europe. I’ve amused myself by photographing children in strollers.

No one spending time here would fail to notice what a melting pot Berlin has become. The Turkish community is to Berlin what the Mexican community is to Los Angeles, the largest outside their countries of origin. Yesterday we were chauffeured by a Palestinian from Gaza and served by a Kosovar waiter. Each was expecting a child, the Kosovar, twins.

“D” is for dogs; Berlin is full of them, and in a strange contradiction of German rectitude, Berliners habitually walk them off-leash. Giants and toys, riding in bicycle baskets and trotting beside runners, sitting under restaurant tables, openly defecating in parks, all well-fed and collared, dogs are everywhere.
As another legacy of the Cold War, Berlin is filled with what are now overlapping cultural institutions. There are doppelganger opera companies, national libraries, and symphonies currently living separate lives but headed toward shotgun mergers. What brings this to mind is Sunday night’s trip to the Opera Komishe, a beautiful 19th century hall in the former East Berlin. Six SALAMists and dependents went to hear Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann. I am a great fan of the music—it lives on my iPod—but I had never seen it performed, and I was a little let down. The staging combined 1930s Weimar decadence with gangster Chicago and Olympia first appears as a dominatrix. Get the picture? I considered closing my eyes to the spectacle, but with a full-day’s touristing under my belt, that would have meant nodding off.
Another cultural duplication, if culture can ever be redundant, is Berlin’s vast array of museums. In the partition, the Commies got Museum Insul, three 19th century buildings dedicated to the glories of antiquity and German science. We saw the famous reconstructions of the Pergamon altar and Babylon’s gate, excavated and removed by German archaeologists nearly 150 years ago. The audio guide, recorded in rich, Oxfordian English studiously avoided the issue of cultural patrimony, but you have to wonder. On the western side of town, corporate and individual donors created new spaces for their collections, among the most notable is the Bergurren in Charlottenburg, with its remarkable collection of Picassos.

“E” ist für eis, cream, that is. It’s been hot in Berlin, and ice cream is just the ticket. It’s served everywhere and consumed copiously especially by children (see “c,” above). I have sampled widely and narrowed my favorites to the many flavors of chocolate concocted for German palates and strawberry a fruit now in season.

Last night the local organizers and book dealers really outdid themselves at the reception. The venue was nothing less than the Gemaldegalerie, a museum lit only by filtered sunlight. Here Berliners have lovingly reunited a collection of medieval and early modern paintings that were separated for half a century by politics. We marveled at the display of so much richness in a single, rather small, space.
The weather for the conference has been a mix of sun, clouds and rain, but on Tuesday, the haze lifted to reveal the east side of the Brandenburg Gate as a rich blonde-colored rectangle, topped by the Reichstag’s glittering dome. Nearby the Monument to European Jews, several hundred black granite rectangles aligned to suggest a cemetery cast dark shadows across its grounds.

Berlin must have one of the most efficient transportation systems on the planet. Bicycles roll along sidewalk lanes created for them. Electric trolleys work the crowds in East Berlin; buses and the Metro (UBahn) serve the West. Mass transit is supplemented by a ubiquitous fleet of taxis, mostly capacious Mercedes sedans. My wife and I have learned to reach most of the sites of interest by mounting two nearly-connected systems, the M-1 trolley that runs from the North Mitte to Humboldt University and the #100 bus that begins in the Museum Insul and runs along west toward Tiergarten. Somehow Berlin has also discovered an alchemy that makes rush hour disappear. A cab driver offered a not-altogether-satisfactory felicity about staggering office hours.

I can’t help but reflect on the passage of time between the SALALMs of 1986 and 2009. In those 13 years the city has undergone a remarkable transformation, reflecting the reunion of the modern German state. What the tourist sees is a tribute to ingenuity and determination, and the transformation is ongoing. Visitors in the coming years will see even more of the ongoing project to make Berlin a single city, but don’t wait for the next SALALM!
Your faithful correspondent has now left Berlin. I’m writing from the Rhineland.

Before I sign off, I want to add one more “a,” to my alphabetical list. Altakrueger and his staff did a fantastic job. Thanks, so much.

Posted by David Block.

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