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Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Amanda Moreno

When and where did you attend the annual SALALM conference?

My first SALALM Conference was in Charlottesville in 2016. I then attended Ann Arbor in 2017 and plan on seeing everyone in Ciudad de México next year!

How did you find out about the SALALM Scholarship?

Angela Carreño, my library school mentor, suggested I apply for the SALALM Scholarship in 2016.

Where did you earn your MLIS and what was your area of specialization? 

I received a dual masters in Library and Information Science from Long Island University and Latin American and Caribbean Studies from New York University in 2016. My master’s thesis for my area studies specialty was on race and national belonging in Dominican Republic, and how tensions in this area play out at the Museo del Hombre Dominicano in Santo Domingo.

What  drew you to the field of librarianship?

I started working in libraries during my senior year of undergrad, when I was hired as a student assistant at the University of Miami Libraries Cuban Heritage Collection. I went from digitizing theater ephemera as a student to processing archival collections as a full-time Archives Assistant. After a few years in that position, I decided to go to grad school and I came back to CHC as the Archivist in January 2017. I was drawn to the ability to connect people with their history through the preservation of Cuban culture in the diaspora.

How did you become interested in Latin America? 

My family is Cuban-American, so while Cuba has always been close to my heart, working at CHC gave me a better understanding and more nuanced perspective on the Cuban exile experience.

While completing my master’s thesis, I conducted field research in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

What experience do you have working with Latin American/Iberian archival or library collections? 

I have worked at the Cuban Heritage Collection as a student assistant, Archives Assistant and most recently as Archivist of the Collection. While at NYU, I was the Collection Development Assistant for Latin American Collections, working with Angela Carreño to grow the Latin American collections at Bobst Library and assisting with reference and instruction for undergraduate and graduate programs in the humanities.

What was the most interesting or unexpected thing that you learned at the conference?

Being able to meet my future colleagues before completing my graduate program was an amazing experience. Everyone was so welcoming and easy to talk to. SALALM is an incubator for collaboration, and I look forward to working with other institutions in my capacity as Archivist of the Cuban Heritage Collection.

What is your current position?

I am the Archivist for the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries.

Was SALALM helpful in the development of your career? In what way?

SALALM was immensely helpful in developing me as a new Latin Americanist. I got to meet colleagues from other institutions that have inspired me to work on joint projects and think about developing new programs at CHC.

My First SALALM Conference

Attending the SALALM conference at Princeton exposed me to current issues facing Latin American librarianship and connected me with a large network of professionals from around the globe. While there, I maintained a busy schedule beginning with the opening session where Lilia Moritz Schwarcz delivered her keynote address. During the rest of my time, I attended two receptions, the book exhibit, a town hall meeting, a rare book and manuscript demonstration at Firestone library, and various panels, which constituted the nuts and bolts of the conference.

Princeton1The panels highlighted several issues, including digital resource access and collaboration, collection development trends, and new research. At one panel, presenters shared current programs aimed at the digitization of primary sources. The British Library, the Oliveira Lima Library, and Brown University all maximize their efforts by collaborating with national and international partners, and by using innovative techniques, like crowdsourcing to provide descriptive metadata. Debra McKern, from the Library of Congress, Rio de Janeiro Office, explicated their methods in acquiring ephemera from Brazil’s popular groups, such as recent World Cup protest flyers. In another panel, Peter Altekrüger explained how the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut manages to maintain their duplicate exchange program with over 500 partners!

 
In a presentation featuring scholars’ perspectives, Stanley J. Stein recounted his first research trip to Brazil and his methodology as he worked with ex-slave informants in the coffee-growing region of Vassouras. At one of the final panels, Ricarda Musser detailed the wealth of information found in German immigration guides to Brazil, and how she is uncovering new research avenues for scholars, while Daniel Schoorl presented literature on Arab ethnicity in Brazil, highlighting key sources, such as early twentieth-century Arabic newspapers.

Princeton3During my spare time, I connected with fellow attendees. I lunched with other library science students at Tico’s Juice Bar in downtown Princeton where we discussed our favorite panels and shared our professional endeavors. On another occasion, I savored a cool beverage at Small World Coffee alongside current SALALM librarians who traded stories about their job experiences, past and present. And as a first-time visitor, I enjoyed exploring or, rather, getting lost on Princeton’s beautiful campus. Princeton’s reception at the Prospect House, once home to President Woodrow Wilson, featured delicious food and beverage offerings. Along with a friend, I explored the house’s numerous rooms and countless portraits. The Libreros’ Reception the following evening took place in a grand hall where the music, dancing, and new friends made for a memorable experience.

I sincerely thank SALALM for the opportunity to attend this year’s conference. I would also like to send a special thank you to Paula Covington, who encouraged my scholarship application and who continues to serve as a dedicated mentor. A warm thank you also goes to Ruby Gutierrez and AJ Johnson, who imparted some great conference tips and advice! I look forward to continuing my pursuit of academic librarianship with a focus on Latin America, continuing my growth as a scholar of library studies, and taking part in future SALALM activities.

Ashley Larson
University of California, Los Angeles

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