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Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Hanni Nabahe


How did you find out about the SALALM Scholarship?
I first heard about SALALM from Alda Allina Migoni, who had been a recipient of the scholarship. She encouraged me and gave me tips on the process.

Did you know about SALALM before you applied for the scholarship?
I had heard that another Knowledge River Scholar, George Apodaca, was involved in SALALM, which prompted me to look it up. But it was talking to Alda that really excited me about attending. The idea of spending time with other information professionals focused on Latin America was a huge draw.

Where did you earn your MLS/MLIS, what was your area of specialization, and when did you graduate?
I earned my MLIS in 2016 at the University of Arizona School of Information focused on Archives Studies and Digital Information Management.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?
I had worked as a paraprofessional with my local public library for about 6 years when I decided to pursue an MLIS. At first I expected to remain a public librarian, but after having the chance to work as graduate assistant with Special Collections at the University of Arizona, I fell in love with archival studies. Aside from making it one of my concentrations (along with digital information management), I remained deeply involved in the field through a summer internship at UC San Diego, as SAA/Mosaic Fellow, and later when I obtained provisional certification from the ACA.

Do you have other graduate level degrees?
Inspired by an Association of Research Libraries leadership symposium, where participants from underrepresented backgrounds were encouraged to seek positions of management within libraries, I decided to pursue a full-time MBA program at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. I am currently completing my last semester and can’t wait to join an academic institution as librarian or archivist.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.
I was born and raised in Southern Mexico (Veracruz), immigrating to the U.S. near the end of high school. As a native Spanish speaker, it was easy (and the fulfillment of a life goal) to take on Portuguese during my undergrad studies, when I lived in housing designed to immerse students in their chosen foreign language. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Chile and most recently to Ecuador, where I served as interpreter for a team bringing basic medical services to the indigenous people of the Amazonian region.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?
No, I have not had the chance yet, but would jump at the opportunity to do so!

When and where did you attend the annual SALALM conference?
I attended SALALM in May 2016, traveling to the University of Virginia while the rest of my cohort took part in our MLIS graduation ceremonies. I instantly felt at home at SALALM and have remained thankful for the chance to spend that week learning from such outstanding SALALMistas.

What was the most interesting or unexpected thing that you learned at the conference?
My favorite part was hearing Spanish, Portuguese, and English spoken equally throughout! I have never felt such sense of belonging as I did that week! I particularly appreciated the theme of “Nuestro Norte es el Sur” and the emphasis on learning from the work being performed by visiting librarians from Latin America. As the conference wrapped up, I knew I had found my people.

Did you attend any committee meetings?
Yes, I attended meetings in Finance, Constitution and Bylaws, and for Marginalized Peoples and Ideas, all areas I hope to become more involved with in the future.

Are you currently working? Where, and in what job?
Aside from attending business school full-time, I continue working as substitute librarian for my local public library system. The branch where I am based, one of the most diverse in the county, counts with a robust collection of Spanish materials for all ages and I cherish the opportunity to serve our Latinx and indigenous populations every week.

Was SALALM helpful in the development of you career? In what way?
It continues to shape my career aspirations, as I follow the paths other members are taking, and continue to be inspired by the work accomplished by the organization. SALALM both inspires and reassures me that I am in the right field.

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