SALALM 60-My experience

As a first time attendee and recipient of the Conference Attendance Scholarship, I was not sure what to expect at the 60th SALALM conference at Princeton University. I arrived with vague expectations of meeting new people and learning more about academic librarianship, but I fortunately left Princeton with such a richer experience than I expected. At SALALM, I found a community of librarians with a wide array of interests and experience, yet similar passion and drive to support research interests on Latin America both within the region and in the United States. For me, the highlight of the conference was simply learning from and interacting with such a rich group of individuals. In addition to networking with seasoned SALALMistas, I greatly enjoyed meeting other MLS students from around the country and discussing our research interests, academic programs, and backgrounds.Princeton

Moreover, the numerous conference panels expanded my perspective on academic librarianship and they also inspired me to think about different issues in innovative ways. For example, I particularly enjoyed Alison Hicks’ presentation entitled “Pedagogy for the Oppressed? The Question of LibGuides.” In her talk, she critiqued how LibGuides privilege certain sorts of information and present resources as “nuggets of truth” without provoking students to questions the materials and methods. Hicks’ presentation helped me to see both LibGuides and librarians in a new light. I also attended the Roda Viva on Monday afternoon and the quick, interesting talks infused me with great ideas and inspirations. Lisa Gardinier’s presentation on zines in Latin America was excellent! I really admire her dedication to collecting and archiving different forms of knowledge and art from Latin America. Jesús Alonso-Regalado also gave a fun talk on how crowdfunded materials, like the book Invisible Immigrants, can enrich unique university collections.

Another highlight of the conference was the opportunity to see documents from Princeton’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez gave an excellent presentation of the materials and it was wonderful to see his enthusiasm for the items. My personal favorite was a letter from Gabriel García Márquez to Mario Vargas Llosa giving him advice and encouragement. Additionally, this visit was my first time to Princeton and I enjoyed simply walking through the beautiful campus and observing the buildings.

To conclude, I want to thank the SALALM community for the opportunity to attend the conference and for the welcoming reception I received. The conference opened my eyes to new opportunities and it also confirmed my desire to work in academic libraries. As I finish my MLS and my MA in Latin American Studies at Indiana University, I plan to pursue a career in academic librarianship with a focus on bibliographic instruction and information literacy. I hope to continue engaging with SALALM and I plan to attend next year’s conference at the University of Virginia!

-Laura Geiken