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Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Emma Whittington

Portrait of Emma Whittington, SALALM Conference Attendance Scholarship awardee

How did you find out about the SALALM Scholarship?

I first heard about the SALALM scholarship through the UT iSchool’s listerserv, where a Dean had sent the announcement. I was also reminded by various colleagues at the library where I work.

Did you know about SALALM before you applied for the scholarship?

I had heard of SALALM before I applied; many of my colleagues are members. However, I didn’t know much about the organization or their aims until I applied to attend the conference.

Where did you earn your MLS/MLIS and what was your area of specialization?

I am earning my MIS at the University of Texas Austin. I am concurrently earning an MA in Latin American Studies, so that is my “specialization,” though within the iSchool program I focus specifically on archives.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

I had a long-standing interest in libraries and archives and recognized that I would likely get a Master’s in the field as early as my second year of undergrad. It wasn’t until I began doing archival research for my undergrad thesis that I started seriously looking into programs and considering my options. I did research using the University of Virginia’s Jorge Luis Borges collection, which led me to apply to a fellowship with the Rare Book School (RBS). These two experiences played a significant role in solidifying my desire to pursue a graduate degree, as did my subsequent position as a Programs Assistant at RBS.

When did or when do you expect to graduate?

May 2018

Do you have other graduate level degrees?

I do not currently possess any other graduate degrees, but will get an MA in Latin American Studies from the Lozano Long Institute at the same time that I receive my MIS, May 2018. The opportunity to work towards both degrees simultaneously has allowed some wonderful and unique chances to combine archival theory and practice with scholarly, archival research and helps me to think about the functions of the archive from many different perspectives.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I always say my “way in” to Latin American was through Jorge Luis Borges. I first fell in love with his writing when I was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia reading his short stories in a seminar. It wasn’t until I learned of UVa’s incredible collection of Borges materials that I really started to consider how I could turn my interest in Borges into a career. During my thesis, I went to Buenos Aires to conduct interviews with various antiquarian booksellers—I was studying the history of several of the major publishers who published Borges material. This lead me to eventually move to Buenos Aires in 2013, where I spent one year living and working. I moved there specifically because of my interest in Argentine authors and my desire to become a confident Spanish speaker. While there, I traveled within the country and also made trips to Uruguay, Chile, and Bolivia. If all goes as planned, I will be back in Buenos Aires to conduct fieldwork for my Master’s thesis in the Summer of 2017. Meanwhile I am happy to take any trips to Latin America that I can; I’m currently writing this from Mexico City!

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

I serve as Graduate Research Assistant for the Special Collections department at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas Austin. I have held this position since September 2016. It’s a unique opportunity to get a feel for the day-to-day work that goes on in a Latin American archive, including everything from assisting researchers in locating records, pulling collection materials, maintaining order in the stacks, and processing archival collections. Since beginning, I have processed three collections. The first was a small collection of 47 items, all related to the Concrete Poetry movement in Argentina. The second was a collection of papers and business documents of William Schuchardt, who served as American Consulate to Mexico in the 1800s. The most recent project was a collection of legal records related to the Hacienda Palmira, an important property located in the region of Coahuila y Tejas and owned by the influential Madero Family. In addition to these collections, I also played a role in processing the Benson’s recent Ernesto Cardenal acquisition, and over the summer I held a temporary position at the Harry Ransom Center working to digitize materials in the Gabriel Garcia Márquez archive. Next semester I will begin working on the papers of Jacqueline E. Barnitz, a noted historian of Latin American art.

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference? When and where?

I was fortunate to receive a scholarship that allowed me to attend the May 2016 SALALM conference in Charlottesville, Virginia. The conference was a bit of a homecoming for me, as I completed my bachelor’s degree at UVa and loved having the chance to see old faces alongside new ones.

What was the most interesting or unexpected thing that you learned at the conference?

What surprised me the most was the camaraderie of the members, many of whom have been attending for many years. SALALM is one of the smaller conferences I’ve attended and I was really impressed by how well people seemed to know on another. I was also struck by the fact that many of the people in attendance hold long-standing affiliations with their institutions and have careers spanning 30+ years—something to aspire to!

Did you attend any committee meetings?

I did. I attended the committee meeting on Digital Primary Resources.

If you gave a paper or presentation at the conference, give a brief description.

I did not give a presentation because I was intimidated by the prospect. Now that I have been to a few presentations, met some participants, and gotten a feel for what the typical talk looks like, I will be much more likely to participate in the future.

Was SALALM helpful in the development of your career? In what way?

Yes. As someone who is still transitioning into the professional world, the exposure to the SALAM community was a great way to see who professionals balance their own work at their institutions with their desire to participate in professional development events. Many attendees came in and out of sessions or attended for 4/5 days; as someone who hadn’t really attended a major conference before last May I think the biggest thing I learned was protocol. I also really, really appreciated going to the panels; I know that I want to present at conferences down the line but until I saw other people give talks I wasn’t sure what that format was supposed to look like. It was great to see people who gave formal presentations right alongside more casual, informal talks that became opportunities to share professional frustrations or to get feedback on specific issues. It was a great experience.

I never would have been able to attend the conference without the scholarship. I was also very grateful for the per diem, which was more than I typically spend as a broke grad student. That generosity allowed me to pick up the tab for a couple of lunches I had with folks I met at the conference, which I think sent a great message about community building among SALALM. Also, the fact that the conference was in Charlottesville meant that I was able to see a lot of old friends and co-workers who’ve meant a lot to me over the years; I stayed for several days after the conference ended and used that time to catch up with old professors and mentors, as well as took a couple days to visit old friends and family. I am so grateful to have had that time as I don’t foresee being able to go back anytime soon.

Is the SALALM Scholarship listed on your CV?

Yes, and I suspect that having that award listed has helped me greatly. Since I was able to add that detail to my CV in May, I was hired first for a position at the Harry Ransom Center—digitizing the García Márquez manuscripts—and later for my position as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Benson’s Latin American Collection.

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Talía Guzmán-González

Portrait of Talía Guzmán-González, SALALM Conference Attendance Scholarship awardee

How did you find out about the SALALM Scholarship?

I received an email through my MLS program at the University of Maryland, but I had seen it announced on the SALALM website before as well.

Did you know about SALALM before you applied for the scholarship?

Yes, I’ve known about SALALM since I was in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. My friend Paloma Celis-Carbajal frequently talked about this great organization focused on Latin American and Iberian collections. As a graduate student in the Portuguese program, I was intrigued by the things I could do with my degree besides teaching.

Where did you earn your MLS/MLIS and what was your area of specialization?

I completed my MLS degree in December, 2016, at the University of Maryland in College Park. I did the general MLS program, but took many classes on Archives.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

As I was completing my graduate studies in Luso-Brazilian literature, I wanted to expand my professional options beyond the tenure path. I did go to the job market, had job offers and even worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Maryland, but becoming an academic librarian was really what interested me because it would allow me to continue working in the field of Latin American studies (beyond my Luso-Brazilian specialty), stay up to date with recent publications and research trends, and participate in a larger academic community. Besides, librarians are awesome, who wouldn’t want to be a librarian?

When did or when do you expect to graduate?

I graduated in December 2016.

Do you have other graduate level degrees?

Yes, I have a Ph.D. in Luso-Brazilian studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I am from Puerto Rico, so you can say that I have, in a way, always been interested in Latin America and the Caribbean. As a child I went to a summer camp, Campamento Pioneril 26 de Julio, in Varadero, Cuba. There I met kids from all over the world, and I became friends with many kids from Latin America. I gained a sense of a world much larger than my island and a sort of regional identity. That’s probably the first time I became consciously interested in Latin America. Later, I studied my Bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies at the University of Puerto Rico, then my MA in Portuguese at Indiana University. I’m a native speaker of Spanish and have near-native fluency in Portuguese and English. I can read French and Italian.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

I am currently a Reference Librarian in the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress, where I am the Luso-Brazilian specialist. I am also the recommending officer for Central American countries. This is my first job as a librarian, so I can’t complain: I am working with a pretty amazing collection!

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference? When and where?

I attended the 2015 Conference at Princeton University. I think it was fortuitous that my first conference at SALALM focused on Brazil. In a way it was as if all my interests came together in one place. I felt like I had finally found my people!

What was the most interesting or unexpected thing that you learned at the conference?

So many interesting things: the presentations were really good, the tour of the Special Collections and Archives (seeing those letters by Gabriel García Márquez and the book on Palés Matos . . . wow). I also liked Latin American Research Resources Project presentations. I had been at academic conferences before, but this aspect of sharing information and ongoing work was really refreshing and useful to see for a newcomer like me. Unexpected? The party! Librarians dancing and having fun, that was a great.

Did you attend any committee meetings?

I attended several meetings, to see what they were about: the Digital Primary Resources, Membership, and Marginalized Peoples and Ideas. All very interesting.

If you gave a paper or presentation at the conference, give a brief description.

I did not present in my first SALALM, but I will be presenting a paper in the upcoming conference in Ann Arbor.

Was SALALM helpful in the development of your career? In what way?

Yes. SALALM has been helpful in so many ways already. The Conference Attendance Scholarship allowed me to go to Princeton and finally see what SALALM was all about, meet professionals in the field and students like myself who are just starting their careers. Everyone was really supportive and welcoming. Although my career is just starting, I feel like I have a network of people I can count on for professional advice.

Is the SALALM Scholarship listed on your CV?

Proudly and prominently!

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Nelson Santana

Santana-Nelson

Nelson Santana was awarded the SALALM Scholarship in 2013.  At the time, Nelson was a MLS candidate at Drexel University, specializing in Archival Science.  He was working as assistant librarian / assistant archivist in the Dominican Archives and Library, at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute.  Nelson was encouraged to apply for the SALALM scholarship by his mentor at the Dominican Studies Institute, Prof. Sarah Aponte.  Since winning the award, Nelson has continued his SALALM membership, attending SALALM conferences in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Nelson is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in history, with a concentration in Latin America at Rutgers University.  Nelson’s work is on Dominican migrants in the United States

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

As a child my parents would take me to my local library and from there grew my love for the library. As a high school student I volunteered in my HS library. As an undergraduate student, one of my most influential mentors was a librarian, who inspired me to pursue that career path. Lastly, working alongside Professor and Chief Librarian Sarah Aponte ensured that it was the career path I wanted to pursue.

Do you have other graduate level degrees?

Yes, I have a master’s in the Study of the Americas from the City College of New York (City University of New York) and at the moment I am pursuing a doctorate in History at Rutgers University.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

I worked approximately seven years at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. I worked as assistant librarian / assistant archivist in the Dominican Archives and Library.

In 2015, I conducted research at the Archivo General de la Nación in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the republic’s national archives. In addition, I conducted research at several libraries in Santo Domingo and Santiago including the Biblioteca Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña.

Was SALALM helpful in the development of your career? In what way?

Extremely helpful. SALALM’s extensive network is among the many pros. Thanks to SALALM I have maintained a line of communication with several individuals who have been instrumental in my own academic career.

 

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Theresa Polk

Portrait of Theresa Polk

Theresa Polk.

Theresa Polk is an archivist at the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas. She earned her MLS from the University of Maryland’s iSchool, specializing in archives. While studying at Maryland, she learned of the SALALM scholarship through the iSchool’s listserv and decided to apply. Polk also holds an MPhil in International Peace Studies, with a specialization in Ethics, from Trinity College Dublin.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

I was working on a human rights project in Guatemala when the Historical Archive of the National Police was uncovered in 2005. Later, as I became more involved in some of the legal cases around human rights violations that took place during Guatemala’s internal conflict, I became increasingly aware of the vital role of archives in transitional processes following political violence or conflict.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I had a wonderful literature teacher in high school, who taught a world poetry class. She had an amazing collection that I slowly read my way through during my spare time. As I started to connect the poetry I was reading from Latin America to the historical moment from which it emanated and the struggle for justice, something clicked, and I was hooked. I went to college knowing I would pursue a major in Latin American studies, and was able to spend a year studying abroad in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

It took a while to find the right opportunity to return, but in 2005, I joined the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala’s (NISGUA) accompaniment team, supporting communities involved in the Rios Montt genocide case and other human rights defenders. It was an amazing, life-changing, and heartbreaking experience that ultimately led me to pursue a career in archives.

Did you know about SALALM before you applied for the scholarship?

Yes, I attended the SALALM conference in 2011 in Philadelphia, when I was still deciding whether an MLS was a good fit for me. It was a great experience and helped me make the decision to begin applying to MLS programs. In 2014, I had intended to attend SALALM in Salt Lake City, but had to cancel my travel plans at the last minute for health reasons.

What was the most interesting or unexpected thing that you learned at the conference?

I knew very little about the field when I attended the 2011 conference; for the most part, it was an opportunity to see if it felt like a good fit for my interests. The human rights theme was very encouraging, and it was exciting to hear about human rights-related collections and work happening in the field. The keynote speaker, the National Security Archive’s Peter Kornbluh, particularly struck a chord. His talk really resonated as he spoke of activist archivists and doing “documentary exhumations” of human rights violations, and I thought, yes, that is what I want to be able to do.

Was SALALM helpful in your career development?

Yes. To begin with, discovering this space within the profession encouraged me to pursue the MLS. I have also really benefited from the mentorship and connections I have made through SALALM, and look forward to becoming more involved in the future.

Did the SALALM scholarship allow you to do something you might not otherwise have been able to do?

The scholarship went mostly to school expenses; however, it eased the financial burden, allowing me to pursue other experiences outside of school, such as internships, conferences, and other professional development opportunities.

Are you currently working with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection?

I recently joined the staff of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas at Austin, working on a new post-custodial digital archives initiative. It’s a dream opportunity that allows me to really integrate my experience in the region with my archival training. Previously, I interned in the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress, and helped process two Latin American ethnographic collections at the National Anthropological Archives (Smithsonian Institution).

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Betsaida Reyes

Portrait of Betsaida ReyesBetsaida Reyes.

Betsaida M. Reyes was awarded the SALALM Scholarship in spring 2013. She is the librarian for Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.

She earned her Master’s in Information Science at the University at Albany/SUNY, focusing on academic librarianship. Reyes did an internship in Information Literacy and one in Collection Development. She also holds an MA in Hispanic Literature and Linguistics. Like others before her, Reyes was encouraged to apply for the SALALM Scholarship by Jesus Alonso-Regalado, Subject Librarian for Romance Languages and Latin American Studies and History at the University at Albany/SUNY.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

I am passionate about connecting people to information. I love helping people, which is why librarianship is a natural fit. I started working in acquisitions before I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in librarianship. Once I was accepted into the program, I looked for as many opportunities as I could to learn about the various areas in the library. I did internships in different departments and volunteered at the circulation desk. In the end, collection development really drew me in. I love the flexibility and variety of activities involved. It also allows me to connect with users across campus, which is the part of my job that I treasure the most.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I spent a semester in Barcelona through a study abroad program and, interestingly enough, my host mother was a librarian. So who knows? Maybe it was in the cards all along. Later, I backpacked through Peru during a winter break. I was born in the Dominican Republic and thus Spanish is my mother tongue. This helped me do my job in acquisitions, but it was also one important aspect that helped shape my career path. Being a native Spanish speaker allowed me to volunteer for special projects where I furthered my understanding about the library environment. It was then, when I realized that I had found the career that I wanted to dedicate my life to.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

While I was studying at the University at Albany, I worked as a student assistant for collection development. That was a great opportunity where I discovered exactly what I wanted to do in my career as a librarian. For three years I worked alongside Jesus Alonso-Regalado learning about collection development, outreach activities, archival materials, and much more. That experience prepared me for the next phase in my career as I entered the job market. Currently, I am working as the librarian for Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference?

Yes, the scholarship award allowed me to attend the annual SALALM conference in Miami, Florida. In 2013 I was in my last semester of the master’s program so [without the scholarship], attending the conference [would have been] definitely out of the question.

I was not required to present a paper when I was awarded the scholarship in the spring of 2013. However, I did present during the meeting in Salt Lake City. I was part of the Roda Viva panel, where I talked about how mentorship relations can help you succeed in your career, and later presented on my experience with embedded librarianship.

What was the most interesting or unexpected thing that you learned at the conference?

I was able to meet so many of my colleagues. However, since I knew I was going to start working at the University of Kansas, attending the conference allowed me to meet and talk with the vendors I would be working with shortly after. The conference essentially gave me a head start.

Did you attend any committee meetings?

Unfortunately, I originally believed that in order to attend the meetings you had to be a committee member. I would like to inform new members that they are welcome to attend the committee meetings.

Was the SALALM scholarship helpful in the development of your career?

Yes! I have built valuable relationships with colleagues and vendors thanks to the SALALM conference. SALALM was instrumental in starting my career. It was through the SALALM listserv that I learned of the opening for my current position. I am not sure where I would be without the SALALM family.

 

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: D. Ryan Lynch

Photo of D. Ryan Lynch
D. Ryan Lynch. Photo by Peter Bailley, Knox College

D. Ryan Lynch was awarded the SALALM Scholarship in spring 2013. She is currently working as Assistant Librarian for Instructional Services at the Seymour Library at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and is a SALALM member.

Ryan earned an MSIS with a focus on collection development, reference, and instruction at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Ryan also holds a master’s degree in Latin American history from Emory University.

Ryan learned about SALALM some years ago while diligently doing her research before a job interview. Later, when Ryan attended UAlbany, she saw a poster for the SALALM scholarship and, after some enthusiastic encouragement from SALALM’s own Jesus Alonso-Regalado, she decided to apply.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

I previously worked as an archivist and museum professional, so I had been at the fringes of librarianship for years. However, I decided on librarianship because my real passion is helping college students think critically and understand the world around them (particularly cultures and perspectives different than their own). I realized that through reference, outreach, and instruction work, I could have the direct impact on students in a more immediate and regular way than at the art museum.

I also had a background in Spanish language and literature and Latin American history (with an emphasis on modern Brazil), and had long sought opportunities to do something related to those academic interests. I am still hoping for that opportunity, although I am very happy to be the liaison to Latin American Studies and Spanish at Knox.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I started taking Spanish on Saturdays when I was five years old and chose to attend Spanish-language summer camp in elementary and middle school. In college at Brown University, I was fortunate enough to benefit from amazing faculty in the History, Spanish, and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies departments; Thomas Skidmore, Douglas Cope, Luiz Valente, and Wada Rios-Font in particular inspired me to pursue graduate studies. I also spent a year in Barcelona, took an intensive Catalan course, and became a Catalan nationalist.

I was very fortunate at Emory to receive generous funding for a Portuguese-language program. I also received ongoing research funding both from the university and through a Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Research Grant. In all, I have spent over three and one half years in Brazil as a researcher and teaching English, and continue to go there regularly. I am, in the words of my friends, “o americano mais paulistano.”

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

In a past life, I helped to complete a Latino history project for the New York State Archives (Ventana al Pasado). I also worked with the Columbia and Cornell Latin American and Iberian Collections for my internship while at UAlbany. Due to a very tight job market [when] I graduated (there were no available LAS librarian positions for about a year), I did not have the opportunity to apply for LAS positions before taking my current job. I was very lucky to have experience and expertise in (and a passion for) liberal arts colleges, which led to several job interviews and offers, including my current job.

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference?

Yes, I went to both the Miami and Salt Lake City conferences. [Although] we were not required to give a presentation when I got the scholarship, I presented two papers in Salt Lake City. One was on outreach efforts with our first-year seminars. The second was part of a panel that I organized on different approaches to collecting histories of immigrant communities.

What was the most interesting or unexpected thing that you learned at the conference?

I was amazed at how welcoming SALALMistas are, even to people without jobs (or without LAS-related positions).

Did you attend any committee meetings?

Yes. But be forewarned: attend committee meetings and you might find yourself in charge.

Was the SALALM scholarship helpful in the development of your career?

Because of the job market at the time I graduated, I depended much more on my liberal arts roots [to help me in] the job market and in actually doing my job. However, SALALM has been instrumental in helping me to find a community of Latin Americanist librarians and form invaluable connections not just with Latin Americanists and Iberianists, but also with others facing many of the same reference, instruction, and outreach challenges that I face.

Did the SALALM scholarship allow you to do something you might not otherwise have been able to do?

I used my scholarship to attend my first SALALM conference, in Miami.

 

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: David Fernández

david fernandez

David Fernández is the third awardee of the SALALM Scholarship. David  learned about the SALALM Scholarship through his faculty (Faculty of Information Science /iSchool at the University of Toronto). He decided to submit an application for the scholarship after seeing a flyer posted by the office of the register at the Faculty of Information.

David knew about SALALM before applying to the scholarship as he regularly consulted a number of reference resources on the SALALM website for his research during his first year as a graduate student in Book History (e.g. History of Printing in Latin America: A Selected Bibliography by Patricia Figueroa.).

David recently graduated with his Master of Information at the Faculty of Information in the University of Toronto (June 2013).He has focused his education in Book History and Print Culture, bibliographical studies, and has studied the history of the book in Latin America at his home institution and, more recently, at the California Rare Book School in Los Angeles. He also attended the Rare Book School in Virginia University for the course on Introduction to the Principles of Bibliographical Description this past summer.

What drew you to the field of Librarianship/Archival Studies?
My passion for books and for learning led me to a career in special collections and rare book librarianship. I think that the role of the rare book librarian goes beyond documenting, preserving, and making accessible the multiple manifestations of human knowledge in our collections. The rare book librarian is crucial in the digital era since we offer alternative approaches to learning and teaching as a result of our expertise in material history, bibliography, and special subjects in connection with our collections. This is a very exciting time for our profession as we are now beginning to see the benefits of digitization projects for scholarship and for collaboration and partnership among libraries in the Americas.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia?
I have a Bachelor degree from the University of Toronto; my major was in Latin American Studies with two minors in Spanish and Portuguese. I became interested in area studies since it has so much to offer students as a result of the multidisciplinary approach to learning and teaching. For instance, I studied Latin America by associating literature and history with a focus on the social history of texts. This early interest in these two disciplines led me to study the history of books in the region.

Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and /or travelling in Latin America?
I have travelled to the Caribbean and Mexico, where I have found books for my collection (history of books).  I am also fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?
I have catalogued and conducted research on a special collection of Spanish Plays at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (University of Toronto), where I worked for a year as a Graduate Student Library Assistant. The vast majority of the plays were printed in Madrid between 1840 and 1940, but these books reached Latin American audiences in cities like Mexico, Buenos Aires, and Havana. The books in this collection provide us with an insight into the cultural and commercial practices of theatre life in Spain at the beginning of the 20th century, when the popular género chico or Spanish short theatre was thriving in Spain.

I am planning to continue working with this collection and, in the near future, catalogue and research a significant collection of Brazilian chapbooks or literature de cordel and other collections related to Latin American and Iberian history and literature at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference?
No, but I plan to attend to the 2014 conference.

Was the SALALM scholarship helpful in the development of your career?
SALALM has served as a bridge between my professional training in librarianship and bibliography and my academic interests in the history of the book in Latin America. The Seminar is also a great community, since it stimulates interaction and communication among librarians, bibliographers, information specialists, and other members like book vendors and faculty around the topic of Latin American and Iberian library and archival materials and their value for knowledge.

Did the SALALM scholarship allow you to do something you might not otherwise have been able to do?
The SALALM Scholarship was really useful during my second year. I used the funds to finish paying my tuition.

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Lisa Cruces

2013-11-03 10 49 57 (2)

Elizabeth “Lisa” Cruces

Elizabeth “Lisa” Cruces was the second awardee of the SALALM scholarship! Alison Hicks caught up with Lisa to ask her about her experiences since then.

Lisa earned her MSIS from the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em Horns!) in May 2012, specializing in Archives and Academic Librarianship. She has dual bachelors degrees in History and International Studies, focusing on Latin America and is thinking about starting an MA. Lisa is currently the Librarian-in-Residence at the University of Notre Dame.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

I initially started out only specializing in archives because of my interest in museum studies and public history but quickly became interested in connecting users with information and decided to add a concentration in Librarianship too.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I have been interested in Latin American Studies since I was very young. My heritage is Mexican and I earned dual bachelors degrees in History and International Studies, focusing on the Latin American sphere respectively. Spanish was my first language and thanks to my family and profession, I have been able to maintain near native fluency. I have experience traveling to Mexico and Panama, both for leisure and research.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

During my first year of graduate school, I traveled to Panama to visit the National Archives. My visit and interviews with the archivists and public service officials explored archival enterprise and its significance to Panamanian society. The end result of the project was a poster,“A Case Study of Archives in Central America: El Archivo Nacional de Panamá.”, presented at national and regional conferences.

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference?

No, due to limited professional funding I was unable to attend the annual meeting.

(NB: Since Lisa was awarded the scholarship, the committee has established a further travel scholarship so awardees can attend the SALALM meeting)

Was the SALALM scholarship helpful in the development of your career?

Yes, immensely! SALALM helped promote my archival specialization: Latin American collections and increase my professional network. Also, being introduced to the SALALM community helped me expand my career path options and encouraged me to continue my focus on Spanish language collections.

Did the SALALM scholarship allow you to do something you might not otherwise have been able to do?

Yes, the additional funding from the SALALM award helped fill a financial gap during my last semester of graduate school. With the funds I was able to register for an additional course and gain a second specialization in Academic Librarianship before exiting my graduate program.

Thanks, Lisa, and all the best for the future!

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Timothy Thompson

Tim_Thompson_SALALM_Scholarship_Survey-1
Tim Thompson creating metadata for special materials from the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection

Tim Thompson was the first awardee of the SALALM Scholarship in Fall 2011. Jesus Alonso Regalado followed up with Tim to see how winning the inaugural SALALM Scholarship changed his life…

Tim earned his MLS at Indiana University Bloomington, with a specialization in Digital Libraries in December 2012. He has also earned an MA in English from Boston College in 2007. Concurrent with his MLS degree, he also earned an MA in Latin American and Caribbean studies from Indiana University Bloomington.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

My journey to librarianship began in 2003, when I enrolled in a doctoral program in English at Boston College. By 2007, my interests had evolved significantly, and I had gravitated away from English as an academic discipline. During my time in Boston, I had become involved with the area’s sizable Brazilian immigrant community, and I had become more attuned to the social relevance of my career path. I was eager to chart a new professional course that would allow me to build on my prior academic experience while also doing work that could make a direct difference in people’s lives. Librarianship as a profession offers exciting opportunities to be a generalist and to work daily to broaden and facilitate people’s access to knowledge.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I had nurtured an increasing interest in Luso-Brazilian studies since around 2000, through friendships with Brazilian students during college. I have steadily improved my Portuguese language skills and cultural competency since then. Two years of my studies at Indiana University were funded by Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships in Portuguese. In 2011, I received a Boren Fellowship that allowed me to spend the year in Brazil, where I continued taking advanced language courses, and where I carried out independent research for my MA final paper (“Digital Libraries in the Context of Human Development: The Case of Brazil”). This July, I returned to Brazil to present the results of this research at the biannual conference of Brazil’s major library association.

Because I have focused so intently on Brazil, my Spanish language skills are not currently at the same level as my Portuguese skills. I am working to leverage my knowledge of Portuguese to improve my Spanish, ¡pero todavía tengo mucho trabajo por hacer!

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

In my current position as a Metadata Librarian at the University of Miami, I work almost exclusively with material from the university’s Cuban Heritage Collection. I am also about to begin a project working with an intern to further process and describe the Leila Míccolis Alternative Brazilian Press Collection, a large collection held by the university’s Special Collections division.

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference? When and where?

Yes, I was able to attend my first SALALM conference this year. The fact that it was held in Miami made it very easy for me to attend. I also volunteered at the registration desk over the course of the conference.

What was the most interesting or unexpected thing that you learned at the conference?

I especially enjoyed learning about the archival and special collections of our neighbors in South Florida at Barry University and Florida International University (FIU).

Was the SALALM scholarship helpful in the development of your career?

I believe that the SALALM Scholarship made a positive difference when I was looking for employment. It is important to have a strong Web presence that potential employers can take notice of, and having a profile as a scholarship winner on the SALALM webpage is a great asset.

Did the SALALM scholarship allow you to do something you might not otherwise have been able to do? 

The scholarship helped fund my final semester of studies at Indiana University. I took a Digital Humanities seminar and worked on writing my MA final paper in Latin American and Caribbean studies.

Thanks, Tim, and congratulations once again!

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