Lesbia O. Varona and Esperanza B. de Varona Retire

We write to you to inform...

Dear Friends of the Cuban Heritage Collection,

We write to you to inform you of the retirements of two of the University of Miami Libraries' most distinguished Professors and colleagues Lesbia O. Varona, Associate Professor and Esperanza B. de Varona, Professor and the Esperanza Bravo de Varona Chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection. Both have informed us of their intention to retire from the University faculty May 31, 2013.

Associate Professor Lesbia O. Varona

The work of innumerable students and scholars of Cuba has been enriched by the generosity and expertise of Lesbia O. Varona. She has supported their work by building deep and comprehensive collections and through her tireless efforts as a reference librarian, always on the trail of just the source needed to answer the thousands of research questions that have crossed her desk. Mrs. Varona began her career in research libraries in Havana, Cuba at the Bibliotheca Nacional José Marti, Cuba's national library, where she worked until 1966. After her arrival in Miami Mrs. Varona joined the staff of the Otto G. Richter Library and has continued to do so over the past four decades. After completing a BA in Spanish at the University of Miami and a master's in library science at Florida State University, Mrs. Varona became a University of Miami Faculty member with her appointment as Serials Librarian in the Periodicals and Government Publications Department and was soon promoted to Head of Microforms and Reserves, a position she held for ten years. Mrs. Varona currently serves as the Libraries' Reference Librarian and Cuban and Latin American Bibliographer for the Cuban Heritage Collection and has received distinction as a bibliographer due to her part in building the Libraries' renown and comprehensive Latin American and Cuban holdings. Mrs. Varona is also known for her extensive scholarly knowledge of literature, the performing arts, theater, and the humanities which she has also used to build rich and deep resources at the University and to support the research of innumerable students and scholars. Mrs. Varona has been an active member of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) and is an active participant in the cultural life of South Florida.

Professor Esperanza B. de Varona, the Esperanza Bravo de Varona Chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection

Mrs. Esperanza B. de Varona has contributed unparalleled leadership, creativity, and service and has worked effortlessly as a librarian and archivist to build and establish the Cuban Heritage Collection as one of the most comprehensive internationally recognized archives in the world. Mrs. de Varona's career at the University of Miami has spanned 40 years and included extensive work and service to the Libraries most specifically to its special collections. Mrs. de Varona led the initiative to build the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion and also worked in partnership to secure the Collection's most recent grant award from The Goizueta Foundation that has supports the acquisition, processing, and digitization of materials and the creation of the undergraduate scholars and graduate fellows research programs. Mrs. de Varona's reputation and influence have attracted many valuable collections to the University, and she has acted as an outstanding ambassador for the Libraries and the University.

Mrs. de Varona's service to the University and the Profession are also extensive. She served as a member of the UM Academic Personnel Board, as a founding member and later president of the Society of Florida Archivists, and as a member of the State Historical Records Advisory Board as appointed by three consecutive governors. She is a member of the Society of American Archivists, the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM), and an honorary member of the Beta Phi Mu, the International Library and Information Studies Honor Society. Mrs. de Varona has spoken at many national and international conferences and events and has received many honors and awards to include the Floridiana Award, presented by the Cuban Women's Club in 1994; the International Award from the Asociación Cultural con Cuba en la Distancia in Cádiz, Spain in 2003; an Award of Excellence from the Society of Florida Archivists in 2004; a Proclamation by Miami-Dade County Office of the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners naming Friday, May 14, 2004 as Esperanza B. de Varona Day; and the “Tributo a la Mujer Hispanic Award” in the category of education by the magazine Vanidades, the world's leading Spanish-language women's lifestyle magazine in 2006. In 2009 Mrs. de Varona was also honored as one of the recipients of the Sara Hopkins Woodruff Spectrum Awards for Women awarded by the American Red Cross, receiving the JN McArthur Education Award. Mrs. de Varona has mentored women and Hispanics during her long career and tirelessly promotes the preservation and dissemination of diverse cultures and histories in the community. Mrs. de Varona has worked to build an archive that will serve for generations and leaves a legacy that will support the research of scholars and students internationally for years to come.

We are very pleased to add that both Lesbia and Esperanza will continue to be active in the Cuban Heritage Collection as volunteers so their colleagues, the Libraries, researchers, and the community will continue to benefit from their invaluable experience as we move forward. Their service to the University and their efforts in support of the Libraries and the profession are significant. It is impossible to adequately thank them for their contributions.

Please join us in congratulating them on their distinguished careers and service and wishing them all the best in their retirement.

William D. Walker
Dean and University Librarian
University of Miami Libraries

Yolanda Cooper
Deputy University Librarian
University of Miami Libraries