It is with great sadness that we share news of the death of Barbara Valk, founder of the Hispanic American Periodicals Index (HAPI), Librarian Emeritus of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and pioneer in Latin Americanist librarianship.
Barbara graduated from Smith College and received her M.A. in Library Science from Rosary College. She began her career as the librarian for Latin American Studies at the Arizona State University Libraries. In 1973, while at ASU, she developed an index to the local periodical collection for Latin American studies. News of this index was received with excitement by members of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) who saw this as a possible model for a larger index to the periodical literature of Latin America. Barbara was recruited by the UCLA Latin American Center (now the Latin American Institute) to create the publication and serve as director of the newly-christened HAPI, a position she filled until her retirement in 2005. Working in collaboration with SALALM and its members, Barbara built the index from scratch to become a resource that is widely acknowledged as a key research resource for Latin American Studies. Under her guidance, HAPI successfully transitioned from a self-sustaining annual print volume to a locally-hosted database to a web-based search tool. This became the first reliable source for identifying journal literature from and about Latin America, making it invaluable for Latin American scholarship.
Barbara was an active member and leader within SALALM throughout her career. She served as SALALM President in 1984 and twice hosted the organization’s annual meeting. Additionally, she served for many years as chair of SALALM’s Editorial Board, setting a high standard for the organization’s reference publications and scholarship. She is the only three-time recipient of the José Toribio Medina Award for outstanding contributions by SALALM members to Latin American Studies for HAPI, Borderline: A Bibliography of the United States-Mexico Borderlands, and Latin American Studies: A Basic Guide to Sources. She also served as Associate Editor to the book Latin America and the Caribbean: A Critical Guide to Research Sources, another Medina Award winner. Upon her retirement she was named an Honorary Member of the organization. She is widely recognized for building a vibrant sense of community within the organization, beginning with the HAPI project.
Those of us who worked with Barbara remember her as a dedicated professional with an impressive work ethic. She could be counted on for both big ideas and the hard work required to accomplish ambitious projects. Over the years she was a mentor and a friend to many and left an indelible mark on the field of Latin Americanist librarianship.
Barbara is survived by her devoted husband Peter and children David, Dana, and Lauren, daughter-in-law Amy, and grandson Douglas.