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OAS Congratulates SALALM on its 60th Anniversary

SALALM is very appreciative of Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), for his congratulatory letter on the observance of the 60th anniversary of the founding of SALALM.  Support from the OAS was critical in SALALM’s formative period.  From 1956 through 1973, SALALM’s Executive Secretariat was unofficially based within the OAS’ Library Development Program, led by the visionary Marietta Daniels Shepard.  The full text of Ambassador Ramdin’s letter can be accessed here.

I would also like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Beverly Wharton-Lake, Director of the Columbus Memorial Library at the OAS, for securing the letter from Ambassador Ramdin.  SALALM appreciates the consideration and thoughtfulness of both the Columbus Memorial Library and the Organization of American States on the observance of this milestone in the history of our organization.

Submitted by Luis A. González
President, SALALM (2014-2015)
Indiana University
15 July 2015

 

 

SALALM LX – Conference Registration & Hotel Reservations

Dear SALALM Colleagues,

We are very pleased to announce that registration for the LX Annual Conference of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) is now open.  Brazil has been selected as the core theme of the conference program: “Brazil in the World, the World in Brazil: Research Trends and Library Resources.”  Hosted by Princeton University, the conference will take place from June 13 to 17, 2015.

Information about conference registration, hotel reservations and a preliminary schedule of the SALALM LX Conference can be found here.

Luis A. González
President, SALALM (2014-2015)
Indiana University
11 February 2015

Second Presidential Message – SALALM LX

Throughout 2014, many institutions in Brazil and the United States held conferences and other academic events in observance of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 coup in Brazil.  In 1964, the Brazilian military overthrew the democratic government of João Goulart.  For the next 21 years, Brazil was ruled under a right-wing military dictatorship that caused hundreds of deaths, extensive human rights violations, and the curtailment of political and civil liberties through direct repression and censorship.  Brazil was the first in a wave of military takeovers that engulfed Southern Cone countries, leading to the institutionalization of terror as state policy.

Beyond the tragic loss of human lives and political freedoms, the onset of the military regime had profound consequences in the realms of education, cultural production, and information access rights in Brazil.  Informers and purges at universities were widespread.  Many scholars and intellectuals were forced into retirement and banned from teaching in Brazilian universities.  Prominent historians Emília Viotti da Costa and Maria Yedda Leite Linhares and social scientists Florestan Fernandes, Otávio Ianni, and Fernando Henrique Cardoso experienced forced retirement and exile firsthand.  Mass media and the entertainment industry were closely policed by the regime’s censorship agency.  Due to their ability to reach mass audiences, newspapers and news broadcasts were prime targets of censorship.  Film, popular music, and the performing arts were directly submitted to government control as well.

Censorial interventions in the book publishing sector were not as overt as in the entertainment and news media, but the effects were no less damaging.  A recent study by Sandra Reimão, Communications Professor at the University of São Paulo, found that hundreds of books were screened by government officials in the years from 1970 when systematic censorship began to 1988 when it finally ended.  Out of 492 titles, 313 books (or 64 percent) were officially banned; the remaining 179 were cleared by censors.  Although many political texts were censored, most of the banned materials were pornography and erotic fiction imprints.  Pornographic content was the dominant criterion for banning books, as authorities were obsessed with content considered harmful to public morality.  Additionally, literary works that leveled criticism against the regime were also targeted.  One of the most emblematic novels banned and confiscated by the regime was Zero by Ignácio de Loyola Brandão, a prominent voice in contemporary Brazilian letters.  Reimão’s book, Repressão e resistência: censura a livros na ditadura militar [2011; Repression and Resistance: Book Censorship during the Military Dictatorship], is based on the extant records of the Department of Public Entertainment Censorship, the central censorship agency.  These records are currently housed in the National Archives in Brasília.

Censorship also affected research and academic publishing in Brazil.  Writing in the late 1970s, our colleague Peter T. Johnson argued that official censorship created an environment that restricted the choice of research topics by Brazilian historians and social scientists.  As the author describes, labor, student activism, and social movements were “off-limit topics,” as were analyses of contemporary issues especially if they were critical of the policies of the military regime then in place.  Likewise, the publishing marketplace placed constraints on academic presses.  Reliance on government subsidies led some publishers to avoid sensitive themes, effectively adopting self-censorship as a strategy in their publishing programs.  Censorship had the overall effect of eroding the practice of public debate about problems in Brazilian society.  Peter’s piece “Academic Press Censorship under Military and Civilian Regimes” appeared in Luso-Brazilian Review in 1978.

In 2012, the Brazilian government established the Comissão Nacional da Verdade (CNV, or National Truth Commission) to investigate the human rights abuses committed in the country between 1946 and 1988, with particular attention to post-1964 events.  The creation of the CNV represented a milestone in the field of human rights advocacy in Brazil.  Several Latin American countries that either experienced military dictatorships, such as Argentina and Chile, or were affected by civil strife, as in Guatemala and Perú, promptly created truth commissions as a form of transitional justice as they tried to restore democratic institutions.  Brazil did not follow this path—until recently.  A few days ago, the CNV officially submitted its report on the killings, disappearances and cases of torture perpetrated during the dictatorship to current President Dilma Rousseff.  Incidentally, the report was released on Human Rights Day, a United Nations observance that takes place every year on December 10th.  While the official report provides solid evidence of extensive and systematic use of torture by the military regime, the lack of access to key records from the armed forces hampered the investigation into the fate of many of the disappeared victims. The complete report can be accessed on the CNV’s website.

Access to information is paramount to fully understanding this troubled chapter of Brazil’s recent past.  For years, LAMP—an organization that has long-standing ties to SALALM—has been instrumental in the preservation of an important piece of the historical memory of this era.  Formerly known as the Latin American Microform Project, LAMP is a cooperative initiative seeking to preserve and promote better access to primary materials from Latin America.  Since its creation in 1975, LAMP has been managed by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL).  In 2011, LAMP and CRL entered into a partnership with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in São Paulo supporting the digitization of the Brasil: Nunca Mais collection.  Available in microfilm, this unique collection consists of 707 court cases involving civilians tried by the Military Supreme Court during the years from 1964 to 1979.

The Military Supreme Court served as the appellate court in the special military justice system set up by the dictatorship to try civilians accused of violating national security laws in Brazil.  These offenses ranged from relatively innocuous charges of writing anti-government articles in the press to the more grave accusation of involvement with subversive organizations.  The military court system was the subject of a stimulating study by political scientist Anthony W. Pereira.  In Political (In)justice: Authoritarianism and the Rule of Law in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina (2005), Pereira states that the political trials served to apply a veneer of legality to the regime’s repression.  It was important for the regime to show that civilian opponents were taken to court for their crimes against national security.

Secretly copied by lawyers and human rights advocates, the military court records show human rights violations by the military government in Brazil.  These records were the cornerstone of an unprecedented report coordinated by the Archbishop of São Paulo documenting the systematic practice of torture by the military regime.  An abridged version of the report, including excerpts of the court cases, appeared in the best-selling volume Brasil: Nunca Mais, published by Editora Vozes in 1985.  The English-language edition, Torture in Brazil, came out in 1986.

Shortly afterward, in 1987, Librarian Emerita Laura Gutérrez-Witt, serving as LAMP chair, negotiated for the transfer of the complete microfilm copy of the court records from the Brasil: Nunca Mais project to CRL.  Significantly, CRL agreed to store the 543-reel microfilm set and to improve access to the records it also created a comprehensive finding aid for the complete collection.  In 2011, with funding from LAMP, duplicates of the original film were made and sent to Brazil for digitization.  The open-access portal Brasil: Nunca Mais digit@l was officially launched in 2013.  It goes without saying that LAMP and CRL—and SALALM by extension—have been good stewards of this invaluable record of Brazilian history.

You can learn more about the intriguing history of the Brasil: Nunca Mais collection in the Winter 2012 issue of CRL’s Focus.  The issue was dedicated to human rights documentation projects managed by the Center for Research Libraries.

I would like to take the opportunity to remind SALALM and non-SALALM members of some approaching deadlines.  The deadline for conference proposal submissions is January 30, 2015.  Preferably, please use the online form for submitting your proposals.  Please note that information regarding hotel reservations will be coming out in early February 2015.  There is also time to apply for the following travel award programs: the ENLACE Travel Awards and the Presidential Travel Fellowship.

As the year draws to a close, I would like to wish you a happy holiday season and a very productive new year.

Boas Festas – Felices Pascuas –  Happy Holidays,

Luis A. González
President, SALALM (2014-2015)
Indiana University
13 December 2014

SALALM 60: June 13-17, 2015

For more information on the conference click here.

brazil national library 5

SALALM LX – Call for Proposals

Dear SALALM Colleagues:

This is the official call for proposals for panels, individual papers, round tables, and other academic events for the upcoming SALALM LX Conference ‘Brazil in the World, the World in Brazil: Research Trends and Library Resources.’ Hosted by Princeton University, the conference will take place on June 13-17, 2015. Further information about the motivation for this theme may be found on the SALALM conference website.

Taking Brazil as the core theme, SALALM LX will explore how the research library inserts itself into the current internationalization agenda of North American universities. The conference program will include the examination of topics such as:

-the strategic role of research libraries in overall internationalization initiatives of North American universities;

-the impact of current trends in scholarly research, teaching, and publishing on academic library collections and services;

-collaboration and partnerships between U.S. academic libraries and libraries, research centers, cultural and educational institutions throughout Brazil, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
The online submission form for SALALM LX proposals is available here.

Please help us disseminate this information as widely as possible.

Best regards,

Luis

Luis A. González, PhD
President, SALALM (2014-2015)
luisgonz@indiana.edu

First Presidential Message SALALM LX

Dear Colleagues:

As I write these lines, the memories of SALALM LIX are still fresh in my mind.  Past President Roberto C. Delgadillo and the Local Arrangements Committee, chaired by John B. Wright with support from the SALALM Secretariat led by Executive Director Hortensia Calvo, offered us a remarkable conference experience.  The variety of sessions in the academic program and other conference activities, including a live performance of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir, provided ample opportunities for academic, cultural, and professional advancement.  The panels and conference sessions showcased the breadth and depth of both the individual and collective expertise in our organization.  Participation by new, mid-career, and veteran colleagues is a healthy sign of SALALM’s continued role as a vibrant forum for the discussion, exchange, and dissemination of library practices and scholarly issues related to the Latin American Studies field.  I particularly enjoyed the panel session “SALALM: Back in the Day.” Presented by David Block, Paula Covington, and Mark L. Grover, the session offered an enthralling account of SALALM’s achievements as an organization.  Over the years, SALALM members have spared no effort in building collections documenting historical and current Latin American affairs.  Paula and David shared vivid memories of traveling to Nicaragua in the early years of the Sandinista Revolution looking for materials to enhance library collections on this historical event.  Reflecting on SALALM’s decades-long history in the light of current developments in the library profession, Mark reminded us of the centrality of our expertise as Latin Americanists in the work we perform as research librarians.

SALALM will be observing the 60th anniversary of its foundation in 2015, making it a landmark year.  For the occasion, I have selected Brazil as the core theme of the SALALM LX conference program: “Brazil in the World, the World in Brazil: Research Trends and Library Resources.”  Hosted by Princeton University, the conference will take place on June 13-17, 2015.  The motivation for this theme is fully explained on the SALALM website.  But succinctly stated, I drew inspiration from thinking about the implications cooperation agreements between North American and Brazilian universities, research centers, and cultural heritage agencies may have on library collections and services.  These academic initiatives have been prompted by the growing recognition of Brazil’s rising global influence and its artistic, cultural, and intellectual effervescence.  Taking Brazil as the core theme, SALALM LX will explore the role of the research library within the current internationalization agenda of North American universities.  For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, Brazil will be showcased in a SALALM conference.  Brazil was last featured in 1990 during the 35th annual meeting of SALALM, held in Rio de Janeiro.  Planned by Ann Hartness, Librarian Emerita from the University of Texas, the theme of the conference was “Continuity and Change in Brazil and the Southern Cone.”

Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez (Chair of Local Arrangements) and I have been working diligently throughout the year in the planning of SALALM LX.  I had the opportunity to visit Princeton on March 10-11, 2014.  During my site visit, I met with high-level library and university officials who enthusiastically supported Princeton’s invitation to host our conference in 2015.  Most prominently among these officials were University Librarian Karin A. Trainer and Professor Rubén Gallo, Director of the Program in Latin American Studies, who are the heads of the two units that will jointly host the conference.  Both directors are very pleased to see Princeton as the conference host and have given Fernando their full support in the organization of the event.  Some of you may recall that SALALM has met once before at Princeton.  This was back in 1985, when then-President Dan Hazen and Peter T. Johnson, serving as chairman of local arrangements, planned the 30th annual meeting of SALALM.  Much like in 1985, nearly all of LALALM LX’s conference events will take place on the university campus.  Fernando and I toured the campus to see various venues of possible interest for lodging, vendor exhibition space, as well as facilities for holding meetings, panel sessions, and other conference events.  I will report more on the conference venues in my next message.

Fernando crafted a packed agenda for my two-day visit, but as busy as we were, we still managed to squeeze into the itinerary a few events that were quite gratifying.  One such event was a presentation by renowned historian Serge Gruzinski on his recent work L’aigle et le dragon.  In a skillful exercise in comparative history, Gruzinski explores the radically different outcomes of the sixteenth-century European expansion into Mexico and China.  Whereas the Spanish achieved control of Mexico, the Portuguese failed in their attempt to conquer China.  The English language edition of this book is scheduled to come out under the title The Eagle and the Dragon later this year.  We also had the opportunity to share a close moment with Princeton University Professor Emeritus Arcadio Díaz Quiñones, the prominent scholar and former director of Latin American Studies.  Professor Díaz is one of the 27 Caribbean authors and intellectuals that are featured in Las Antillas letradas, a portfolio by graphic artist Antonio Martorell, recently acquired by the Graphic Arts Collection in the Firestone Library.  The portfolio consists of woodcut prints of the letters of the Spanish alphabet representing a selected author, or letrado, from the region.  For each letter, an image of the individual and excerpts of a representative work in the original language (English, French, and Spanish) is presented on the text.  This pictorially rich composition is juxtaposed on an image of a map of the Caribbean.  More information on this splendid work is available on the Graphic Arts Collection blog.

During my site visit, I had the pleasure of meeting in person Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, who will deliver the keynote address at SALALM LX.  Professor Schwarcz is a distinguished Brazilian anthropologist and historian at the University of São Paulo and a Princeton Global Scholar.  A prolific scholar, she has published extensively on the institutional history and the collections of the Brazilian National Library.  Her works include A longa viagem da biblioteca dos reis (2002), O livro dos livros da Real Biblioteca/ The Royal Library’s Book of Books (2003, bilingual edition), and most recently a chapter in Mestres da gravura: Coleção Fundação Biblioteca Nacional (2013), a book that features the unique collection of European prints and engravings in this impressive repository.

One of the oldest national libraries in Latin America and one of the largest national libraries in the world, Brazil’s Biblioteca Nacional has a peculiar history.  The provenance of the core holdings of the original library collection—over 60,000 volumes plus manuscripts, maps, and prints, and other rare materials—can be traced back to the personal library of King João VI of Portugal.  In 1808, the Portuguese crown, the government, and many members of the aristocracy resettled in Rio de Janeiro, fleeing from the Napoleonic invasion of the peninsula.  Rio became not only the new seat of the vast Portuguese empire, but also underwent important social and cultural transformations.  Besides introducing the Royal Press and the first newspapers, João VI ordered the transfer of his treasured library to Brazil.  The complete collection was shipped from Portugal in three stages from 1810 to 1811.  The installation of the library in Rio’s Carmelite monastery in 1810 is considered as the official foundation date of this institution.  The Real Biblioteca opened its doors to the public in 1814.  João VI returned to Portugal in 1821, but this time the royal library remained behind.  Control over the royal library became a key issue of contention during the negotiations leading up to Brazilian independence.  The newly independent country led by Emperor Pedro I, King João VI’s son, agreed to indemnify the Portuguese crown for the property and assets left behind in Brazil, including, remarkably, the formerly royal library collection.  As this story shows us, libraries and their collections represent more than knowledge—power.

Hosting SLALAM LX in the Northeast will hopefully attract participation by specialists and graduate students enrolled in library programs as well as in Latin American Studies programs in that region.  We will tap the support of our LANE colleagues to help us reach out to this potential pool of participants.  Please stay tuned!

As Hortensia recently reported, the state of SALALM’s financial health is good, which is always reassuring to hear.  So please renew your memberships on time.  This type of simple, straightforward action works wonders for maintaining our organization’s strength.

Finally, I started this message by referring to two of our veteran colleagues, David Block and Mark L. Grover.  David retired just last month.  Mark had retired a year earlier, but at the last SALALM conference, he was elected as Honorary Member of the organization by the Executive Board.  This distinction recognizes Mark’s multiple professional accomplishments and contributions to SALALM.  Thank you to you both, estimados colegas, for everything you contributed to SALALM during your long productive careers.

Luis A. González
President, SALALM (2014-2015)
Indiana University
luisgonz@indiana.edu

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