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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.

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Lara Aase

When and where did you attend the annual SALALM conference?

Lara Aase with Xelena Gonzalez

The scholarship (thanks, SALALM!) covered my Charlottesville conference attendance in 2016, and my second conference was last year in Ann Arbor.

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

At Charlottesville, I was thrilled to meet a group of like-minded colleagues who were both professionally driven and simpaticxs (not an easy combination to find in academic circles!). At Ann Arbor, even people I hadn’t met before seemed like family.

How did you find out about the SALALM Scholarship?

At the beginning of my MLIS, I hunted down a professor with a great reputation as a mentor for prospective academic librarians and asked if she’d take me on. Her very first piece of advice was to join SALALM. Eventually I gathered my courage and the (minimal, student-rate) membership fee and joined, applying for the scholarship shortly after that.

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

I graduated from the iSchool at the University of Washington in 2016. The program didn’t have separate specialization tracks, but I knew early on that I wanted to focus on rare books and special collections. UW is strong in theory, research, and technology training, so I was lucky to be able to enhance my old-school rare book knowledge with new ideas about web access, user experience, and digital humanities.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

When I was in high school, I took a career inventory test that told me to be a librarian, but I didn’t listen until I’d been through two graduate programs in other fields and years of work as a freelance musician.

Despite having seven separate student jobs in university libraries, all along I thought I wanted to be a professor, because that’s what you do with a PhD. I started my doctoral program in Spanish Literature to work with paleography and old books, but somehow it didn’t occur to me until I was ABD that I was still hanging out in school because I liked libraries.

It took me another decade of library associate and technician jobs before I was ready to bite the bullet and get the MLIS. And then I discovered that I love finding information, organizing it, and getting it into the hands of people who need it. I used to think librarianship would be just a practical career choice, but now I’m continuously rediscovering that it’s a fascinating discipline.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia?

My first non-English languages were French in high school and Italian in undergrad, and when I needed to add another language for my MA in Comp Lit I learned Spanish. One of my first courses was in medieval Spanish literature, which got me interested in paleography, which led to a job at the Spanish Colonial Research Center at UNM and later at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Toronto. Between graduate programs I lived in Costa Rica for a year. But I didn’t get past my “high affective filter” until I worked at a public library in Illinois doing Spanish-language programming.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

My job at the Spanish Colonial Research Center involved indexing personal names, place names, and other subjects from 16th- and 17th-century New Mexican documents. At the University of Toronto I did Romance-language cataloging, mostly with Spanish materials, and at the Fisher Rare Book Library I dealt with acquisitions and descriptions of early published books in Portuguese as well as Spanish “hojas sueltas.” In Illinois I was the selector for Spanish and Latin American publications.

What is your current position?

I’m the solo librarian at the Center of Southwest Studies special collections library at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

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

Yes, both theoretically and practically. SALALM gave me something my MLIS program couldn’t: connection to academic librarians and library workers who speak a language other than English, who are concerned with library users not best served by mainstream collections, who have a vision beyond the U.S. SALALM is also an excellent network for hearing about job possibilities.

Photo: Lara Aase (left) with Xelena Gonzalez at ALA Midwinter, 2018

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.

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Daniel Arbino

How did you find out about the SALALM Scholarship?

President Suzanne Schadl, who I had met previously while conducting research at the University of New Mexico, told me about SALALM and suggested that I apply for the scholarship.

Did you know about SALALM before you applied for the scholarship?

I knew very little. The scholarship opportunity is what motivated me to learn more.

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

University of Arizona. My specialization ended up being in special collections and archives.

What  drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

I receive this question a lot and I don’t know if there’s any one particular answer. I think that first of all, when I was doing my PhD, that the library gave me a sense of wonder because of its ability to track down any book or article that I needed. That instilled in me a great respect for libraries that I always carry with me. Secondly, I enjoy wearing many hats in one day – to work as a community liaison, develop collections, conduct my own research, and to facilitate research for others. Finally, I view librarianship as a career that fosters creativity – whether it is in contributing to exhibits or finding solutions to problems.

Do you have other graduate level degrees?

PhD Latin American Literatures and Cultures (University of Minnesota)
MA Hispanic Literature (University of New Mexico)

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

In the past, I have lived in Querétaro, Mexico and I have also traveled to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and throughout Mexico for conferences, research, and coursework.

I have near-native fluency in Spanish and intermediate Portuguese.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

Depending on how broad your definition of Latin American is, I have worked as both a researcher and intern at the University of New Mexico. In both cases, I focused predominantly on Hispanic voices in the state and how they have continued to affirm their identity in relation to the rest of the United States. I have also done archival processing on New Mexican collections at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe.

When and where did you attend the annual SALALM conference?

I attended the SALALM conference in Charlottesville, VA in 2016. I plan to attend others in the future.

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

What surprised me most was the sincere kindness of the members at the conference. I found everyone to be most welcoming, supportive, and helpful. That is a very unique experience from other conferences that I have attended.

Otherwise, I enjoyed learning about the digital scholarship initiatives coupled with the workshop that was provided as well as the general theme of resistance and resilience that followed Torres Garcia. Presentations on collaboration and advocacy seemed very timely.

If you’ve graduated from the Master’s program, are you currently working? Where, and in what job?

I began a position as the Librarian for U.S. Latina and Latino Studies at the LLILAS Benson at the University of Texas at Austin in June 2017.

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

Yes. SALALM was an affirmation of my career desires because it showed me that there existed a strong community of librarians with a specialization in Latin America, which was something that I gravitated to because of my own educational background. It provided me with a career trajectory that I could follow just by observing the network of junior and senior librarians. To that end, I believe a more tangential impact that it had on my career development was that it allowed me to meet and talk with other members who later considered me for a career opportunity.

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Emma Whittington

Portrait of Emma Whittington, SALALM Conference Attendance Scholarship awardee

How did you find out about the SALALM Scholarship?

I first heard about the SALALM scholarship through the UT iSchool’s listerserv, where a Dean had sent the announcement. I was also reminded by various colleagues at the library where I work.

Did you know about SALALM before you applied for the scholarship?

I had heard of SALALM before I applied; many of my colleagues are members. However, I didn’t know much about the organization or their aims until I applied to attend the conference.

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

I am earning my MIS at the University of Texas Austin. I am concurrently earning an MA in Latin American Studies, so that is my “specialization,” though within the iSchool program I focus specifically on archives.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

I had a long-standing interest in libraries and archives and recognized that I would likely get a Master’s in the field as early as my second year of undergrad. It wasn’t until I began doing archival research for my undergrad thesis that I started seriously looking into programs and considering my options. I did research using the University of Virginia’s Jorge Luis Borges collection, which led me to apply to a fellowship with the Rare Book School (RBS). These two experiences played a significant role in solidifying my desire to pursue a graduate degree, as did my subsequent position as a Programs Assistant at RBS.

When did or when do you expect to graduate?

May 2018

Do you have other graduate level degrees?

I do not currently possess any other graduate degrees, but will get an MA in Latin American Studies from the Lozano Long Institute at the same time that I receive my MIS, May 2018. The opportunity to work towards both degrees simultaneously has allowed some wonderful and unique chances to combine archival theory and practice with scholarly, archival research and helps me to think about the functions of the archive from many different perspectives.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I always say my “way in” to Latin American was through Jorge Luis Borges. I first fell in love with his writing when I was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia reading his short stories in a seminar. It wasn’t until I learned of UVa’s incredible collection of Borges materials that I really started to consider how I could turn my interest in Borges into a career. During my thesis, I went to Buenos Aires to conduct interviews with various antiquarian booksellers—I was studying the history of several of the major publishers who published Borges material. This lead me to eventually move to Buenos Aires in 2013, where I spent one year living and working. I moved there specifically because of my interest in Argentine authors and my desire to become a confident Spanish speaker. While there, I traveled within the country and also made trips to Uruguay, Chile, and Bolivia. If all goes as planned, I will be back in Buenos Aires to conduct fieldwork for my Master’s thesis in the Summer of 2017. Meanwhile I am happy to take any trips to Latin America that I can; I’m currently writing this from Mexico City!

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

I serve as Graduate Research Assistant for the Special Collections department at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas Austin. I have held this position since September 2016. It’s a unique opportunity to get a feel for the day-to-day work that goes on in a Latin American archive, including everything from assisting researchers in locating records, pulling collection materials, maintaining order in the stacks, and processing archival collections. Since beginning, I have processed three collections. The first was a small collection of 47 items, all related to the Concrete Poetry movement in Argentina. The second was a collection of papers and business documents of William Schuchardt, who served as American Consulate to Mexico in the 1800s. The most recent project was a collection of legal records related to the Hacienda Palmira, an important property located in the region of Coahuila y Tejas and owned by the influential Madero Family. In addition to these collections, I also played a role in processing the Benson’s recent Ernesto Cardenal acquisition, and over the summer I held a temporary position at the Harry Ransom Center working to digitize materials in the Gabriel Garcia Márquez archive. Next semester I will begin working on the papers of Jacqueline E. Barnitz, a noted historian of Latin American art.

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference? When and where?

I was fortunate to receive a scholarship that allowed me to attend the May 2016 SALALM conference in Charlottesville, Virginia. The conference was a bit of a homecoming for me, as I completed my bachelor’s degree at UVa and loved having the chance to see old faces alongside new ones.

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

What surprised me the most was the camaraderie of the members, many of whom have been attending for many years. SALALM is one of the smaller conferences I’ve attended and I was really impressed by how well people seemed to know on another. I was also struck by the fact that many of the people in attendance hold long-standing affiliations with their institutions and have careers spanning 30+ years—something to aspire to!

Did you attend any committee meetings?

I did. I attended the committee meeting on Digital Primary Resources.

If you gave a paper or presentation at the conference, give a brief description.

I did not give a presentation because I was intimidated by the prospect. Now that I have been to a few presentations, met some participants, and gotten a feel for what the typical talk looks like, I will be much more likely to participate in the future.

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

Yes. As someone who is still transitioning into the professional world, the exposure to the SALAM community was a great way to see who professionals balance their own work at their institutions with their desire to participate in professional development events. Many attendees came in and out of sessions or attended for 4/5 days; as someone who hadn’t really attended a major conference before last May I think the biggest thing I learned was protocol. I also really, really appreciated going to the panels; I know that I want to present at conferences down the line but until I saw other people give talks I wasn’t sure what that format was supposed to look like. It was great to see people who gave formal presentations right alongside more casual, informal talks that became opportunities to share professional frustrations or to get feedback on specific issues. It was a great experience.

I never would have been able to attend the conference without the scholarship. I was also very grateful for the per diem, which was more than I typically spend as a broke grad student. That generosity allowed me to pick up the tab for a couple of lunches I had with folks I met at the conference, which I think sent a great message about community building among SALALM. Also, the fact that the conference was in Charlottesville meant that I was able to see a lot of old friends and co-workers who’ve meant a lot to me over the years; I stayed for several days after the conference ended and used that time to catch up with old professors and mentors, as well as took a couple days to visit old friends and family. I am so grateful to have had that time as I don’t foresee being able to go back anytime soon.

Is the SALALM Scholarship listed on your CV?

Yes, and I suspect that having that award listed has helped me greatly. Since I was able to add that detail to my CV in May, I was hired first for a position at the Harry Ransom Center—digitizing the García Márquez manuscripts—and later for my position as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Benson’s Latin American Collection.

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Talía Guzmán-González

Portrait of Talía Guzmán-González, SALALM Conference Attendance Scholarship awardee

How did you find out about the SALALM Scholarship?

I received an email through my MLS program at the University of Maryland, but I had seen it announced on the SALALM website before as well.

Did you know about SALALM before you applied for the scholarship?

Yes, I’ve known about SALALM since I was in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. My friend Paloma Celis-Carbajal frequently talked about this great organization focused on Latin American and Iberian collections. As a graduate student in the Portuguese program, I was intrigued by the things I could do with my degree besides teaching.

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

I completed my MLS degree in December, 2016, at the University of Maryland in College Park. I did the general MLS program, but took many classes on Archives.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

As I was completing my graduate studies in Luso-Brazilian literature, I wanted to expand my professional options beyond the tenure path. I did go to the job market, had job offers and even worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Maryland, but becoming an academic librarian was really what interested me because it would allow me to continue working in the field of Latin American studies (beyond my Luso-Brazilian specialty), stay up to date with recent publications and research trends, and participate in a larger academic community. Besides, librarians are awesome, who wouldn’t want to be a librarian?

When did or when do you expect to graduate?

I graduated in December 2016.

Do you have other graduate level degrees?

Yes, I have a Ph.D. in Luso-Brazilian studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I am from Puerto Rico, so you can say that I have, in a way, always been interested in Latin America and the Caribbean. As a child I went to a summer camp, Campamento Pioneril 26 de Julio, in Varadero, Cuba. There I met kids from all over the world, and I became friends with many kids from Latin America. I gained a sense of a world much larger than my island and a sort of regional identity. That’s probably the first time I became consciously interested in Latin America. Later, I studied my Bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies at the University of Puerto Rico, then my MA in Portuguese at Indiana University. I’m a native speaker of Spanish and have near-native fluency in Portuguese and English. I can read French and Italian.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

I am currently a Reference Librarian in the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress, where I am the Luso-Brazilian specialist. I am also the recommending officer for Central American countries. This is my first job as a librarian, so I can’t complain: I am working with a pretty amazing collection!

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference? When and where?

I attended the 2015 Conference at Princeton University. I think it was fortuitous that my first conference at SALALM focused on Brazil. In a way it was as if all my interests came together in one place. I felt like I had finally found my people!

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

So many interesting things: the presentations were really good, the tour of the Special Collections and Archives (seeing those letters by Gabriel García Márquez and the book on Palés Matos . . . wow). I also liked Latin American Research Resources Project presentations. I had been at academic conferences before, but this aspect of sharing information and ongoing work was really refreshing and useful to see for a newcomer like me. Unexpected? The party! Librarians dancing and having fun, that was a great.

Did you attend any committee meetings?

I attended several meetings, to see what they were about: the Digital Primary Resources, Membership, and Marginalized Peoples and Ideas. All very interesting.

If you gave a paper or presentation at the conference, give a brief description.

I did not present in my first SALALM, but I will be presenting a paper in the upcoming conference in Ann Arbor.

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

Yes. SALALM has been helpful in so many ways already. The Conference Attendance Scholarship allowed me to go to Princeton and finally see what SALALM was all about, meet professionals in the field and students like myself who are just starting their careers. Everyone was really supportive and welcoming. Although my career is just starting, I feel like I have a network of people I can count on for professional advice.

Is the SALALM Scholarship listed on your CV?

Proudly and prominently!

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Nelson Santana

Santana-Nelson

Nelson Santana was awarded the SALALM Scholarship in 2013.  At the time, Nelson was a MLS candidate at Drexel University, specializing in Archival Science.  He was working as assistant librarian / assistant archivist in the Dominican Archives and Library, at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute.  Nelson was encouraged to apply for the SALALM scholarship by his mentor at the Dominican Studies Institute, Prof. Sarah Aponte.  Since winning the award, Nelson has continued his SALALM membership, attending SALALM conferences in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Nelson is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in history, with a concentration in Latin America at Rutgers University.  Nelson’s work is on Dominican migrants in the United States

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

As a child my parents would take me to my local library and from there grew my love for the library. As a high school student I volunteered in my HS library. As an undergraduate student, one of my most influential mentors was a librarian, who inspired me to pursue that career path. Lastly, working alongside Professor and Chief Librarian Sarah Aponte ensured that it was the career path I wanted to pursue.

Do you have other graduate level degrees?

Yes, I have a master’s in the Study of the Americas from the City College of New York (City University of New York) and at the moment I am pursuing a doctorate in History at Rutgers University.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

I worked approximately seven years at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. I worked as assistant librarian / assistant archivist in the Dominican Archives and Library.

In 2015, I conducted research at the Archivo General de la Nación in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the republic’s national archives. In addition, I conducted research at several libraries in Santo Domingo and Santiago including the Biblioteca Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña.

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

Extremely helpful. SALALM’s extensive network is among the many pros. Thanks to SALALM I have maintained a line of communication with several individuals who have been instrumental in my own academic career.

 

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Theresa Polk

Portrait of Theresa Polk

Theresa Polk.

Theresa Polk is an archivist at the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas. She earned her MLS from the University of Maryland’s iSchool, specializing in archives. While studying at Maryland, she learned of the SALALM scholarship through the iSchool’s listserv and decided to apply. Polk also holds an MPhil in International Peace Studies, with a specialization in Ethics, from Trinity College Dublin.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

I was working on a human rights project in Guatemala when the Historical Archive of the National Police was uncovered in 2005. Later, as I became more involved in some of the legal cases around human rights violations that took place during Guatemala’s internal conflict, I became increasingly aware of the vital role of archives in transitional processes following political violence or conflict.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I had a wonderful literature teacher in high school, who taught a world poetry class. She had an amazing collection that I slowly read my way through during my spare time. As I started to connect the poetry I was reading from Latin America to the historical moment from which it emanated and the struggle for justice, something clicked, and I was hooked. I went to college knowing I would pursue a major in Latin American studies, and was able to spend a year studying abroad in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

It took a while to find the right opportunity to return, but in 2005, I joined the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala’s (NISGUA) accompaniment team, supporting communities involved in the Rios Montt genocide case and other human rights defenders. It was an amazing, life-changing, and heartbreaking experience that ultimately led me to pursue a career in archives.

Did you know about SALALM before you applied for the scholarship?

Yes, I attended the SALALM conference in 2011 in Philadelphia, when I was still deciding whether an MLS was a good fit for me. It was a great experience and helped me make the decision to begin applying to MLS programs. In 2014, I had intended to attend SALALM in Salt Lake City, but had to cancel my travel plans at the last minute for health reasons.

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

I knew very little about the field when I attended the 2011 conference; for the most part, it was an opportunity to see if it felt like a good fit for my interests. The human rights theme was very encouraging, and it was exciting to hear about human rights-related collections and work happening in the field. The keynote speaker, the National Security Archive’s Peter Kornbluh, particularly struck a chord. His talk really resonated as he spoke of activist archivists and doing “documentary exhumations” of human rights violations, and I thought, yes, that is what I want to be able to do.

Was SALALM helpful in your career development?

Yes. To begin with, discovering this space within the profession encouraged me to pursue the MLS. I have also really benefited from the mentorship and connections I have made through SALALM, and look forward to becoming more involved in the future.

Did the SALALM scholarship allow you to do something you might not otherwise have been able to do?

The scholarship went mostly to school expenses; however, it eased the financial burden, allowing me to pursue other experiences outside of school, such as internships, conferences, and other professional development opportunities.

Are you currently working with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection?

I recently joined the staff of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas at Austin, working on a new post-custodial digital archives initiative. It’s a dream opportunity that allows me to really integrate my experience in the region with my archival training. Previously, I interned in the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress, and helped process two Latin American ethnographic collections at the National Anthropological Archives (Smithsonian Institution).

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Betsaida Reyes

Portrait of Betsaida ReyesBetsaida Reyes.

Betsaida M. Reyes was awarded the SALALM Scholarship in spring 2013. She is the librarian for Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.

She earned her Master’s in Information Science at the University at Albany/SUNY, focusing on academic librarianship. Reyes did an internship in Information Literacy and one in Collection Development. She also holds an MA in Hispanic Literature and Linguistics. Like others before her, Reyes was encouraged to apply for the SALALM Scholarship by Jesus Alonso-Regalado, Subject Librarian for Romance Languages and Latin American Studies and History at the University at Albany/SUNY.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

I am passionate about connecting people to information. I love helping people, which is why librarianship is a natural fit. I started working in acquisitions before I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in librarianship. Once I was accepted into the program, I looked for as many opportunities as I could to learn about the various areas in the library. I did internships in different departments and volunteered at the circulation desk. In the end, collection development really drew me in. I love the flexibility and variety of activities involved. It also allows me to connect with users across campus, which is the part of my job that I treasure the most.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I spent a semester in Barcelona through a study abroad program and, interestingly enough, my host mother was a librarian. So who knows? Maybe it was in the cards all along. Later, I backpacked through Peru during a winter break. I was born in the Dominican Republic and thus Spanish is my mother tongue. This helped me do my job in acquisitions, but it was also one important aspect that helped shape my career path. Being a native Spanish speaker allowed me to volunteer for special projects where I furthered my understanding about the library environment. It was then, when I realized that I had found the career that I wanted to dedicate my life to.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

While I was studying at the University at Albany, I worked as a student assistant for collection development. That was a great opportunity where I discovered exactly what I wanted to do in my career as a librarian. For three years I worked alongside Jesus Alonso-Regalado learning about collection development, outreach activities, archival materials, and much more. That experience prepared me for the next phase in my career as I entered the job market. Currently, I am working as the librarian for Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference?

Yes, the scholarship award allowed me to attend the annual SALALM conference in Miami, Florida. In 2013 I was in my last semester of the master’s program so [without the scholarship], attending the conference [would have been] definitely out of the question.

I was not required to present a paper when I was awarded the scholarship in the spring of 2013. However, I did present during the meeting in Salt Lake City. I was part of the Roda Viva panel, where I talked about how mentorship relations can help you succeed in your career, and later presented on my experience with embedded librarianship.

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

I was able to meet so many of my colleagues. However, since I knew I was going to start working at the University of Kansas, attending the conference allowed me to meet and talk with the vendors I would be working with shortly after. The conference essentially gave me a head start.

Did you attend any committee meetings?

Unfortunately, I originally believed that in order to attend the meetings you had to be a committee member. I would like to inform new members that they are welcome to attend the committee meetings.

Was the SALALM scholarship helpful in the development of your career?

Yes! I have built valuable relationships with colleagues and vendors thanks to the SALALM conference. SALALM was instrumental in starting my career. It was through the SALALM listserv that I learned of the opening for my current position. I am not sure where I would be without the SALALM family.

 

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: D. Ryan Lynch

Photo of D. Ryan Lynch
D. Ryan Lynch. Photo by Peter Bailley, Knox College

D. Ryan Lynch was awarded the SALALM Scholarship in spring 2013. He is currently working as Assistant Librarian for Instructional Services at the Seymour Library at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and is a SALALM member.

Ryan earned an MSIS with a focus on collection development, reference, and instruction at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He also holds a master’s degree in Latin American history from Emory University.

Ryan learned about SALALM some years ago while diligently doing his research before a job interview. Later, when Ryan attended UAlbany, he saw a poster for the SALALM scholarship and, after some enthusiastic encouragement from SALALM’s own Jesus Alonso-Regalado, decided to apply.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

I previously worked as an archivist and museum professional, so I had been at the fringes of librarianship for years. However, I decided on librarianship because my real passion is helping college students think critically and understand the world around them (particularly cultures and perspectives different than their own). I realized that through reference, outreach, and instruction work, I could have the direct impact on students in a more immediate and regular way than at the art museum.

I also had a background in Spanish language and literature and Latin American history (with an emphasis on modern Brazil), and had long sought opportunities to do something related to those academic interests. I am still hoping for that opportunity, although I am very happy to be the liaison to Latin American Studies and Spanish at Knox.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I started taking Spanish on Saturdays when I was five years old and chose to attend Spanish-language summer camp in elementary and middle school. In college at Brown University, I was fortunate enough to benefit from amazing faculty in the History, Spanish, and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies departments; Thomas Skidmore, Douglas Cope, Luiz Valente, and Wada Rios-Font in particular inspired me to pursue graduate studies. I also spent a year in Barcelona, took an intensive Catalan course, and became a Catalan nationalist.

I was very fortunate at Emory to receive generous funding for a Portuguese-language program. I also received ongoing research funding both from the university and through a Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Research Grant. In all, I have spent over three and one half years in Brazil as a researcher and teaching English, and continue to go there regularly. I am, in the words of my friends, “o americano mais paulistano.”

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

In a past life, I helped to complete a Latino history project for the New York State Archives (Ventana al Pasado). I also worked with the Columbia and Cornell Latin American and Iberian Collections for my internship while at UAlbany. Due to a very tight job market [when] I graduated (there were no available LAS librarian positions for about a year), I did not have the opportunity to apply for LAS positions before taking my current job. I was very lucky to have experience and expertise in (and a passion for) liberal arts colleges, which led to several job interviews and offers, including my current job.

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference?

Yes, I went to both the Miami and Salt Lake City conferences. [Although] we were not required to give a presentation when I got the scholarship, I presented two papers in Salt Lake City. One was on outreach efforts with our first-year seminars. The second was part of a panel that I organized on different approaches to collecting histories of immigrant communities.

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

I was amazed at how welcoming SALALMistas are, even to people without jobs (or without LAS-related positions).

Did you attend any committee meetings?

Yes. But be forewarned: attend committee meetings and you might find yourself in charge.

Was the SALALM scholarship helpful in the development of your career?

Because of the job market at the time I graduated, I depended much more on my liberal arts roots [to help me in] the job market and in actually doing my job. However, SALALM has been instrumental in helping me to find a community of Latin Americanist librarians and form invaluable connections not just with Latin Americanists and Iberianists, but also with others facing many of the same reference, instruction, and outreach challenges that I face.

Did the SALALM scholarship allow you to do something you might not otherwise have been able to do?

I used my scholarship to attend my first SALALM conference, in Miami.

 

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