In Memoriam: Prof. Carl Deal

Emeritus Professor Carl Deal, the first University of Illinois's Latin American...

In Memoriam Prof. Carl Deal

Dr. Antonio Sotomayor

Assistant Professor and Librarian of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

September 2017


Emeritus Professor Carl Deal, the first University of Illinois's Latin American and Caribbean Studies Librarian, passed away on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana. He was 86. Professor Deal completed an M.A. in Latin American Studies at Mexico City College and an M.S. in library science at Kansas State Teachers' College. A preeminent leader in the field of Latin American and Caribbean Studies and academic libraries, Professor Deal leaves behind a legacy and a professional track-record difficult to replicate. Before coming to Urbana, he held positions in the Kansas State Historical Society, the Wichita Public Library and the University of Kansas Library, where he directed the student exchange program with the University of Costa Rica. In 1965, he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois as its first Latin American and Caribbean librarian, where he helped build the university's Latin American and Caribbean collection into a premier academic repository, which today ranks among the top 3 in the nation with almost one million volumes in numerous languages and formats. In 1970, Professor Deal became the second president of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM), the premier association of Latin American librarians. During the academic year 1972-1973, he served as Director of Illinois's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), and from 1978 to 1982 as Executive Director of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) when the Secretariat moved to Urbana.

Professor Deal was among the pioneers in establishing close collaborative relations with Latin American vendors in the field to acquire academic library material for research universities in the United States, which eventually became the “Blanket plans.” Throughout his career, Mr. Deal set and achieved a high standard of excellence in bibliographic and academic research. He is the author of works such as:

  • Latin America and the Caribbean: A Dissertation Bibliography. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms International, 1978.
  • “The Latin American Microform Project: The First Decade.” Microform Review vol.15 (Winter 1986): 22-27.
  • Academic Publishing in Mexico. Albuquerque, New Mexico: SALALM Secretariat, General Library, University of New Mexico, 1992.
  • Academic publishing in Ecuador. Albuquerque, New Mexico: SALALM Secretariat, General Library, University of New Mexico, 1994.

From Prof. Deal's obituary we have the following special notes: “He retired from the UI in 1995 after more than a decade as director of Library Collections. In retirement, he continued his work to advance a system of regional cooperation to help smaller institutions around the world gain access to the resources of major library collections. This was consistent with his core personal belief that all people are equally deserving of the same respect and opportunities. Carl was passionate about social justice and always eager to engage with the issues of the day. He was an active participant in life. He knew the opportunities to love and to be loved were precious and unique. During his last days, he advised his family: ‘Life is full of love, fun and adventure, but you have to make it happen. God help us if we ever forget love. It's the thing that moves us forward.'”

Personally, Don Carlos was a valued mentor, good friend, and my third abuelo. We spent hours talking about the profession, Puerto Rico and Latin America, his good old friends from SALALM, research, but most importantly, family. He always made sure to ask about my family, how they were doing, and loved seeing pictures of us. You could tell how clear it was for him that the most important thing in life was family and people. Everything else was secondary. I never took for granted that he was still among us and each time I saw him at his house, at a social event, or in town, I thought to myself how lucky I was to be talking with a legend and a leader of Latin American and Caribbean librarianship.

Early in my position Don Carlos and Yolanda sent the library a donation to help in the acquisition of material for the collection. I always and sincerely appreciate anybody's donation to our collection. But receiving one from Prof. Deal was special. I took extra time to honor him in a thank you letter, which I would like to share now as a tribute to a great professional, noteworthy leader, but most of all, a kind friend. Que descanse en paz el gran Don Carl Deal.

Muy estimado Profesor don Carlos,

It is with great honor and admiration that I write this letter of appreciation for your generous gift of $100 to the University of Illinois Library. I sincerely appreciate your donation, yet I also humbly express my profound gratitude for the work you did as the first Latin American and Caribbean Librarian in our University Library. As I take charge of this magnificent collection, I often stop and admire the vastness of our holdings and recognize time and again the leadership it took to build it, much of it under your wise and pioneering stewardship. Your leadership was not confined to the University Library at Illinois, but also nationwide and reaches the broadest corners in US academia and higher education. In a time where Latin American and the Caribbean entailed an integral part in US academic inquiry and teaching, you led the field and set examples of excellence in bibliographic and research endeavors, continuing to make Illinois a special place to study Latin America. As we move forward into the twenty-first century, and Latin America and the Caribbean enter a new and equally exciting phase, I am confident in my stewardship of our collection knowing that thanks to you it is as strong as any in the US, and the world for that matter. Your gift of $100 is greatly appreciated. However, your gift in building this extraordinary collection is a generous testament of intellectual excellence, professional commitment, and significant service.