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.
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 is a dual degree student at Indiana University, pursuing a Master’s in Library Science and a Master’s of Art in Latin American Studies. Additionally, she is an Associate Spanish Instructor at IU in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese. She has also worked as a Subject Specialist Assistant for the Latin American Studies Librarian at the Herman B Wells Library at IU. Before beginning graduate school, Laura served in the Peace Corps for three years on an indigenous reservation in Panama. In the Peace Corps, Laura worked on HIV/AIDS prevention projects and youth development.
During her time at IU, Laura has researched numerous topics related to the Americas. Much of her research has focused on Latin American migration patterns, questions of citizenship, and also the plight of undocumented students with regards to higher education in the United States. She has also explored issues of information access and outreach for minority populations in the U.S., particularly the Latin American diaspora. Furthermore, this past summer Laura investigated the public library system in Panama in relation to the closure of university library science programs.
In the future, Laura plans to work as a subject specialist with Latin American and Latino collections in a university setting. She also hopes to support first-generation college students through training and information literacy initiatives.
Taylor Leigh is currently completing a Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies at Brown University and a Masters in Library and Information Science at the University of Rhode Island. Taylor wrote his MA thesis on authorial ideology in the Poema de Mio Cid and maintains an interest in medieval peninsular literary traditions. Currently, his dissertation work for the Ph.D. focuses on George Ticknor (1791-1871), first Smith Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard, founder of the Boston Public Library, and premier hispanist in the United States. The broad goal of the project is to highlight Ticknor’s importance to both hispanists and librarians working with Hispanic materials by detailing Ticknor’s crucial role in fostering the study of Hispanic culture in the United States and promoting the growth of libraries.
Taylor has had significant library work experience over the course of the last few years. In the summer of 2011, he was hired by the Department of Hispanic Studies to reorganize the department’s internal library. The following summer, Taylor worked as an archival assistant under Karen Eberhart, Manuscripts Processing Archivist, Brown University Special Collections, on the Jose Rodrigues Miguéis Collection, a diverse assortment of the late Portuguese-American writer’s manuscripts, correspondence, journals, photographs, and miscellanea.
During the summer of 2014, Taylor worked on collection development projects with Patricia Figueroa, Curator of Iberian and Latin American Collections at Brown University. He conducted a comprehensive review of the library’s holdings of texts included on the Department of Hispanic Studies’ Preliminary Examination List to ensure student and faculty access to serviceable editions. He also identified gaps in the library’s Hispanic Studies collection by working with faculty members and consulting literary histories, encyclopedias, and bibliographies.
In addition to Taylor’s academic and library experience, he has also worked as a translator, interpreter, and Spanish instructor. In 2014, he translated the Guantánamo Public Memory exhibit, “Bringing Guantánamo Home,” for the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. He has five years experience as a Spanish language instructor at the college level, as well as two years’ experience teaching intermediate medical Spanish for the Alpert Medical School at Brown.
Taylor has lived, studied, and worked in Spain and Argentina, and has traveled extensively in those countries, as well as Chile and Uruguay. In the future, Taylor plans to look for subject specialist librarian or archivist positions that allow him to utilize his knowledge of the Hispanic world in conjunction with his library skills.