Presidential Message, January 16, 2019



The new year is well underway and the entire crew at the Benson Collection is full speed ahead with preparations for the SALALM annual conference that will take place in Austin, June 26-29.  The conference theme Latin American and Latinx Cultural Heritage: A Horizontal Dialogue promises to provide opportunities to engage in timely conversations about the many facets of cultural heritage stewardship. I would like to thank Hortensia Calvo for encouraging my interest in this theme early on, as well as all of the SALALMistas who demonstrated support for the topic through a lively exchange on the SALALM list-serve. Please continue to spread the word about the conference and the call for papers/proposals.  The deadline for submission is February 1, 2019. 

The local arrangements committee, headed by my esteemed colleague, AJ Johnson, is busy putting together everything necessary to make your experience in Austin meaningful. We'll make sure those who want to see some of the Benson's treasures have the opportunity to do so, and we'll set you in the right direction to enjoy Austin. Keep your eye on the conference web site for updates.

We are especially proud to host SALALM, once again, at UT-Austin because of the longstanding connection between the organization and the Benson. The library's namesake, Dr. Nettie Lee Benson, was among SALALM's earliest members, and the Benson Collection housed the Secretariat on two occasions over several years. The Benson still serves as the official repository for SALALM's institutional archive. What was then called the Latin American Collection at UT first hosted the annual meeting in 1957, a year after SALALM's founding. The organization returned for its annual meeting in 1974, a year before Nettie Lee retired. Most recently (nearly 27 years ago!) the Benson hosted in 1992, with our retired colleague, David Block, presiding as President.  Of course, those of you who know David's career trajectory know that everything comes full circle.  I have the program for that meeting sitting on my desk, and I see many of your names. We will be honored to have you back.

Before signing off, I want to note that last month, our fantastic webmaster, Lara Aase revealed a revamped SALALM website. Thank you, Lara, for your continuous hard work, and to those who have helped her, especially our website content editor, Betsaida Reyes. Such projects are extremely time-consuming. Over the next few months, I will work with Lara, Betsaida, and with the Secretariat to make changes to the site as needed. I encourage all of you to dive into the site, paying special attention to the documentation it contains about SALALM as an organization and how it functions. Following in the footsteps of my predecessor, Suzanne Schadl, I will continue to highlight the importance of engagement with SALALM on an administrative level. SALALM can only function well if we have an informed, engaged membership that understands how the organization works.

Warm regards,