Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: David Fernández

david fernandez
David Fernández is the third awardee of the SALALM Scholarship. David  learned about the SALALM Scholarship through his faculty (Faculty of Information Science /iSchool at the University of Toronto). He decided to submit an application for the scholarship after seeing a flyer posted by the office of the register at the Faculty of Information.
David knew about SALALM before applying to the scholarship as he regularly consulted a number of reference resources on the SALALM website for his research during his first year as a graduate student in Book History (e.g. History of Printing in Latin America: A Selected Bibliography by Patricia Figueroa.).
David recently graduated with his Master of Information at the Faculty of Information in the University of Toronto (June 2013).He has focused his education in Book History and Print Culture, bibliographical studies, and has studied the history of the book in Latin America at his home institution and, more recently, at the California Rare Book School in Los Angeles. He also attended the Rare Book School in Virginia University for the course on Introduction to the Principles of Bibliographical Description this past summer.
What drew you to the field of Librarianship/Archival Studies?
My passion for books and for learning led me to a career in special collections and rare book librarianship. I think that the role of the rare book librarian goes beyond documenting, preserving, and making accessible the multiple manifestations of human knowledge in our collections. The rare book librarian is crucial in the digital era since we offer alternative approaches to learning and teaching as a result of our expertise in material history, bibliography, and special subjects in connection with our collections. This is a very exciting time for our profession as we are now beginning to see the benefits of digitization projects for scholarship and for collaboration and partnership among libraries in the Americas.
How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia?
I have a Bachelor degree from the University of Toronto; my major was in Latin American Studies with two minors in Spanish and Portuguese. I became interested in area studies since it has so much to offer students as a result of the multidisciplinary approach to learning and teaching. For instance, I studied Latin America by associating literature and history with a focus on the social history of texts. This early interest in these two disciplines led me to study the history of books in the region.
Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and /or travelling in Latin America?
I have travelled to the Caribbean and Mexico, where I have found books for my collection (history of books).  I am also fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.
Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?
I have catalogued and conducted research on a special collection of Spanish Plays at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (University of Toronto), where I worked for a year as a Graduate Student Library Assistant. The vast majority of the plays were printed in Madrid between 1840 and 1940, but these books reached Latin American audiences in cities like Mexico, Buenos Aires, and Havana. The books in this collection provide us with an insight into the cultural and commercial practices of theatre life in Spain at the beginning of the 20th century, when the popular género chico or Spanish short theatre was thriving in Spain.
I am planning to continue working with this collection and, in the near future, catalogue and research a significant collection of Brazilian chapbooks or literature de cordel and other collections related to Latin American and Iberian history and literature at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.
Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference?
No, but I plan to attend to the 2014 conference.
Was the SALALM scholarship helpful in the development of your career?
SALALM has served as a bridge between my professional training in librarianship and bibliography and my academic interests in the history of the book in Latin America. The Seminar is also a great community, since it stimulates interaction and communication among librarians, bibliographers, information specialists, and other members like book vendors and faculty around the topic of Latin American and Iberian library and archival materials and their value for knowledge.
Did the SALALM scholarship allow you to do something you might not otherwise have been able to do?
The SALALM Scholarship was really useful during my second year. I used the funds to finish paying my tuition.

Meet David Fernández, SALALM Scholarship Winner!

David Fernández is the SALALM Scholarship winner of $1,000 for the 2012 spring semester. Many thanks to our anonymous donor who made this award possible.

Peter Johnson
Scholarship Committee

David Férnandez, master’s student in Library Science, Book History and Print  Culture at the Faculty of Information in the University of Toronto.

David Fernández was born in Venezuela, and moved to Canada in 2004. He is a master’s student in Library Science, Book History and Print Culture at the Faculty of Information in the University of Toronto. David holds an Honours B.A in Latin American Studies with a specialization in contemporary Latin American literature. He is the co-director of ¿Oye, qué bolá? Cuban Voices on Sexual Diversity (2009), a documentary that brings together a range of energetic and sincere voices discussing sexual diversity in 21st Century Cuba. He is also the winner of the 2010 Hoeniger Book Collection Prize for his collection which connects the texts of a select group of Latin American writers with the works of writers from other regions and literary traditions.
David takes a multidisciplinary approach to the study of information; he is particularly interested in the history of the book as well as print cultures, textual studies, digital humanities, and information literacy. He also continues to study and collect books on contemporary Latin American queer literature. David’s research interests are motivated by his passion to promote the study of Latin American literatures, cultures, and societies in Canada. He believes that there is an enormous potential for librarians in North America to foster new knowledge in the area of Latin American Studies. His goal as a librarian is to build bridges of collaboration among academics, librarians, and students through academic projects such as digital anthologies of Latin American works, and resource- sharing between libraries, archives, and universities across North America and Latin America.