Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: D. Ryan Lynch

D. Ryan Lynch was awarded the SALALM Scholarship...

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

D. Ryan Lynch was awarded the SALALM Scholarship in spring 2013. He 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. He also holds a master's degree in Latin American history from Emory University.
Ryan learned about SALALM some years ago while diligently doing his research before a job interview. Later, when Ryan attended UAlbany, he saw a poster for the SALALM scholarship and, after some enthusiastic encouragement from SALALM's own Jesus Alonso-Regalado, 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.