Interview with Salalm Scholarship Awardee: Perri Pyle

Perri Pyle, Archivist and Librarian at the Arizona...

Perri Pyle, Archivist and Librarian at the Arizona Historical Society, was a SALALM conference scholarship awardee in 2018. Amanda Moreno caught up with Perri in February 2022 to learn about the impact of the scholarship on her career.

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

My MA history advisor, who heard about it from SALALM member Talía Guzmán-González.

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

University of Maryland with an archives specialization.

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

Volunteering and doing contract digitization work at a local archives is what made me want to pursue it as a career! I was working as an inventory coordinator in a machine shop in Houston and realized I could apply my organizational skills to a history-related field (what my BA was in).

When did or when do you expect to graduate?        

Spring 2019.

Do you have other graduate level degrees?   

Yes, an MA in History with a specialization in Global Interaction & Exchange (transnational Latin America-U.S. studies).

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

After studying Spanish throughout most of my undergrad, I studied abroad for a semester in Argentina in 2010 and fell so in love with Buenos Aires that I moved back after graduation and lived there for several years. Now I joke that I only speak *Argentine,* not actual Spanish (the accent is hard to get rid of once it sticks!). Back in the U.S. I kept studying Latin American history, particularly in the Southern Cone, and now work as an archivist at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson, 60 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

While you were a graduate student, did you work with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?  

For my History master's thesis, I wrote about a group of Argentines who, for various reasons, had left Argentina during the last dictatorship and lived in Washington, D.C., where they advocated for victims of the dictatorship and sought justice through U.S. political groups. While interviewing several of the group's members, I discovered that one of them had kept boxes and boxes of materials related to their advocacy - I stumbled on an attic archive and that project became my thesis.

When and where did you attend the annual SALALM conference?        

Mexico City, 2018.

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

Just learning about the breadth of archival work that is being done with Latin American collections throughout the U.S (and other countries!) was incredible! I had no idea SALALM existed and was so relieved to find a whole community of scholars dedicated to Latin American librarianship.

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

Absolutely - I would even say it was pivotal. After working and studying in places with very few Spanish-language or Latin America collections, I was under the (wrong) impression that little attention was paid to Latin American collections and unsure how to forge a career path for myself. Discovering SALALM was a game-changer - I met so many wonderful, driven librarians and archivists who got me excited about all of the work being done in institutions and pushed me to look for work in an area with a substantial Latinx presence.