Tuesday September 2nd 2014

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From the President: Key Issues Affecting our Profession

As the time for submitting proposals for SALALM 58 gets closer, I am getting excited about organizing the conference. I have received questions about proposals from colleagues in the United States and from some countries in Latin America such as Ecuador, Chile and Colombia. The messages that I have received make me think that we will have a nice variety of presentations related to the conference theme and also concerning key issues affecting our profession.

Reflecting on the latter issue, I read again David Block’s paper entitled: “Where We Are, Where May We Be Going, and What Can We Do There” published in the SALALM LIII proceedings. In this article written in 2008, David says “I am asking readers to consider the real possibility that in another five years neither librarians nor booksellers will be doing the work as it is now done.” Five years have passed and David’s article on the future of libraries in general and Latin American collections in particular reminds me of the great novel by García Marquez, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. As in García Marquez’s tale, the death of librarianship as we knew it is imminent and the whole community knows it.

Some of the key issues addressed in his thought-provoking article include “access vs. ownership.” On this issue David writes, “…I must reluctantly predict that the days of librarians at multiple libraries selecting copies of the same items and of booksellers selling the same item to multiple clients are numbered.” Indeed! As a matter of fact, the patron-driven acquisition and purchase-on-demand models are being tested and/or adopted in most of our library systems and consortia. On the issue of electronic vs. paper-based collections, David says, “Libraries will not be able to maintain their current hybrid existence. Simultaneous development of digital and paper-based collections and services will soon become unsustainable.”

Certainly! Most library administrators are strong supporters of e-collections for practical and financial reasons. For example, with electronic collections there is no processing, shelving, damage, loss, or physical handling of e-materials. E-book usage statistics can be measured in detail to assist in collection management decisions. E-books may be rented, loaned, owned, or accessible via subscription packages. Referring to the critical issue of the e- book in Latin America, David writes that the “…electronic book has proved something of an oxymoron, as readers have not accepted them and publishers are reluctant to produce them.” I wonder how much longer Latin American publishers will wait to embrace large productions of e-books.

As I start thinking of the organization of SALALM 58 I am reminded of David’s concluding remarks: “I hope that this session will catalyze a conversation and perhaps spawn a working group to examine the issues raised at this panel.” As David observes, “We really should not wait.”

I attended the panel entitled “What Do Libraries Want Now?: Identifying Book Dealer Services to Support New Workflows and Staffing Models.” The room was full of people and, at the end of the session, some of us – librarians and book vendors – looked perplexed, shocked and somewhat uncomfortable as if we had received an unwelcome wake-up call. Five years have passed and David’s assertions are as relevant and thought-provoking as ever before. Our meeting in Miami will allow us to devote time and energy to re-visit these and other important issues affecting our profession.

In addition to the theme of the conference, I am encouraging proposals for papers, panels and/or roundtables addressing the technological changes that are challenging how we work and provide services. SALALM 58 will also include screenings of movies and documentaries coordinated by Teresa Chapa. The committee meetings and affiliated groups will be given time to meet. We will also set aside time to approve the new SALALM Bylaws which are being revised by the Constitution and Bylaws Committee.

My intention is to schedule key meetings without the interference of other simultaneous events in order to facilitate the attendance of all participants. The SALALM conference in Miami will be a great opportunity for all of us to exchange experiences and ideas as well as to revisit and reinforce our common goals. Essentially, the events and activities planned for SALALM 58 will remind us that the statement that Dan C. Hazen wrote about SALALM (published in the World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services) remains at the core of our organization.

Dan writes, “SALALM’s primary concern remains that which inspired its formation: to make necessary resources available to Latin American students and scholars throughout the world. Many of the materials essential for current scholarship remain elusive. The balance of forces in North American libraries and academic institutions likewise continues to change, as a result of both new technologies and political and intellectual dynamics. These shifting contexts will continue to challenge and stimulate SALALM.”

Warm regards to all,

Martha Mantilla
University of Pittsburgh

 

From the President

SALALM: A Big Extended Family

One of the reasons that SALALM is so unique is that we are like a big extended family.  When someone joins SALALM, she/he becomes a member of an extended family whose relatives are scattered all over Latin America, Europe, Canada and the United States.

When one of our members is ill or passes away, the whole family mourns.  Recently, two members of the SALALM family passed way: Howard Karno and tatiana de la tierra.  My personal connection with Howard Karno was somewhat sporadic and brief, mostly at SALALM receptions.  However, his warm and friendly presence together with his contagious laughter was always comforting and reassuring.   Our deep sentiments for this big loss are well expressed in David Block’s “Howard Karno – In Memoriam” post.

tatiana de la tierra.  Who will not remember her down-to-earth name and her affirming presence?  If you ever met tatiana once, you will never have forgetten her.  I met tatiana for the first time at the Buenos Aires book fair, where I learned that she was a compatriota bibliotecaria. However, she was much more than that.  She was an ingenious bi-cultural writer and activist, full of life. In her blog she described her own life as “a novel still being written.”   Adan Griego’s “Colombiana Salerosa – In memory of tatiana de la tierra” post, plus  her blog and this video on YouTube  gives tribute to the life of this remarkable multifaceted colombiana.

Another great loss for the SALALM family is Alan Moss.  Upon hearing of his passing, SALALM colleagues spoke of his camaraderie and described him as “a first-rate bibliographer with in-depth knowledge of publishing in the English-speaking Caribbean.”  These words were included in the “Alan Moss – In Memoriam” post written by Elizabeth F. Watson.

Ties Between Junior and Senior SALALM Members

Thinking about these losses made me reflect on the importance of the connection between junior and senior SALALM members.   Although we have always been proud of the strong ties between newer and older members of SALALM, I strongly believe that these ties need to be constantly nourished and strengthened.   Thus, I would like to make an explicit invitation to those members that have recently joined the organization to be active participants in SALALM.   Throughout the year, we might look for innovative ways of joining the talent and skills that new members are bringing to the organization with the experience and wisdom of senior members. At SALALM’s 58th conference we will include venues to strengthen junior-senior mentoring relationships.

The Theme for SALALM’s 58th Conference

Briefly, the general theme of the conference deals with the intersection of indigenism, pan-indigenism, and cosmovisionism within the context of indigenous studies in the Americas. We are interested in the exploration of indigenous peoples’ thought and action prior to, during, and after colonization.  We will attempt to approach this from indigenous peoples’ perspective.   The title of the conference, the description of the theme and the deadline for submissions can be found on the SALALM conference website.

The Venue

We are very fortunate to have been invited by the University of Miami Libraries and Florida International University Libraries to have the 2013 conference in Coral Gables.  I traveled to Miami in August, visited The Westin Colonnade Hotel, and met some members of the host institutions. I was amazed to learn about the rich history of this beautiful multicultural city. I also had the opportunity to see some of the unique collections held in the host institutions.  We will find ways to highlight some of these collections at the 58th SALALM conference in Miami.

New SALALM Officers

Congratulations to the newly elected SLALAM Officers, President-Elect Roberto Delgadillo and the Members at Large Paloma Celis-Carvajal and Daisy Dominguez.  I would like to thank Roberto Delgadillo for his invaluable six-year service as the Rapporteur General.  We welcome Suzanne Schadl  and  Craig Schroer who agreed to share the responsibilities of Rapporteur General.

Saludos para tod@s y mis deseos por un exitoso año académico,

Martha E. Mantilla
University of Pittsburgh

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