AUSTIN, Texas — The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection is partnering with oral history nonprofit organization StoryCorps to archive its immense collection of audio interviews with Latino subjects.
The Benson Collection — part of the University of Texas Libraries at The University of Texas at Austin — will serve as the research repository for more than 2,000 audio recordings that capture the experiences of Latinos in the United States as part of the StoryCorps Historias initiative.
Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and launched in 2009, Historias interviews follow the model established by the broader StoryCorps project, but with a focus on the nation’s Latino culture. Conversations are recorded between two people — most often friends or family members — with one person acting as interviewer and the other as storyteller, or with both people interviewing each other. A copy of the exchange is presented to the subject, with additional copies sent to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress as part of a comprehensive StoryCorps archive. Select interviews are aired as part of a regular segment on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”
The Benson will maintain the only complete archive of Historias interviews apart from the comprehensive StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress. The decision to place the archive with the Benson Collection grew out of an early partnership between the developers of Historias and the School of Journalism’s Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, whose Voces oral history project focusing on Latino contributions to World War II features a website hosted by the Libraries.
“StoryCorps Historias interviews are a powerful and dynamic resource documenting the history of Latinas and Latinos in the United States through contributors’ own individual and collective voices,” says Charles Hale, director of the Benson Collection. “This important body of historical memory brought together by StoryCorps will support significant educational and scholarly inquiry at the Benson Collection.”
The Benson staff will work closely with StoryCorps to determine how to transform Historias interviews into a world-class resource for scholarship. Once cataloging and digital preservation are accomplished, interviews from the Historias collection will be accessible to researchers on-site at The University of Texas at Austin. There are ongoing discussions regarding possible online access to the collections at a later date.
”The Historias Initiative allows StoryCorps to capture powerful stories from Latinos in communities all across the country,” says Virginia Millington, StoryCorps’ Recording & Archive manager. “Through this historic partnership with the world-renowned Benson Collection, StoryCorps will further ensure that the important voices, histories and perspectives collected through Historias will be heard and celebrated for generations to come.”
The archive is expected to be open for research in spring 2013.
About the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection
The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, a unit of the University of Texas Libraries, is a specialized research library focusing on materials from and about Latin America and on materials relating to Latinos in the United States. Named in honor of its former director (who served from 1942 to 1975), the Nettie Lee Benson Collection contains more than a million books, periodicals and pamphlets, 2,500 linear feet of manuscripts, 19,000 maps, 21,000 microforms, 11,500 broadsides, 93,500 photographs and 38,000 items in a variety of other media (sound recordings, drawings, video tapes and cassettes, slides, transparencies, posters, memorabilia and electronic media).
StoryCorps’ mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, preserve and share their stories. Each week, millions of Americans listen to StoryCorps’ award-winning broadcasts on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” StoryCorps has published three books: “Listening Is an Act of Love,” “Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps” and “All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps” — all of which are New York Times best sellers. For more information, or to listen to stories online, visit storycorps.org.
Miguel Valladares, formerly of Dartmouth College, has accepted the position as Librarian for Romance Languages at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, beginning on February 20. Felicidades, Miguel!
Meagan Lacy (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis University) has published “The Virtues of a Committed Dilettante: Embracing Nonexpert Expertise” in College and Research Libraries News, February 2012, 73 (2).
David Block (University of Texas at Austin) recently made television news for donating long lost books to the National Library of Peru.
Lisa Cruces has been a scholar and professional specializing in Latin American materials for the last 7 years. Her specific interests include archival enterprise, special collections and non-textual materials relevant to the Latin American sphere. After completing dual B.A. degrees in History and Latin American Studies at Texas State University-San Marcos in 2009, Lisa began her Masters of Science in Information Science at The University of Texas at Austin, concentrating in archival studies and librarianship.
Before beginning her graduate studies, Lisa conducted work in public history, exhibits, and libraries, with the shared goal of increasing scholarship and access to Spanish-language materials. Past work includes cataloging sueltas at the Harry Ransom Center Research Library and assisting the UT-Library System
with digitization projects.
Along with her previous work involving Mexico and El Salvador, Lisa traveled and conducted independent research in 2010 and 2011 on archival enterprise, preservation, and librarianship in Panama. She presented her poster, “A Case Study of Archives in Central America: El Archivo Nacional de Panamá” at the 2011 Annual Meetings of the Society of Southwest Archivists and the Society of
Her most recent activities at the University of Texas include archival work, digital exhibits, and translation with the Benson Latin American Collection and the Human Rights Documentation Initiative.
Timothy Thompson is a dual-degree master’s student in library science and Latin American and Caribbean studies at Indiana University. In his application essay, Tim highlighted his keen interest in both digital libraries and Brazilian studies, two areas that have gone hand in hand with his professional development as a librarian: within his MLS degree, he is also pursuing a digital libraries specialization, and his first two years of study at Indiana University were funded by consecutive Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships in Portuguese.
He has worked closely with Luis A. González, Indiana University’s Librarian for Latin American, Iberian, Latino, and Chicano-Riqueño Studies, under whose supervision he completed an internship centered on digital collection development. Using open-source reference management software, he helped implement a complete redesign of González’s Researching Brazil, an online gateway that provides a searchable index of Brazilian scholarly journals.
In 2010, Tim received a Boren Fellowship to spend the following year in Brazil. During the first half of 2011, he continued his study of advanced Portuguese and took language courses at the University of Brasília, where he also completed a graduate-level course in Information Architecture. Concurrently, he enrolled in an independent readings course supervised by González and wrote a review essay of 12 recent books related to library and information science in Brazil.
In April, he was selected to receive the 2011 Rovelstad Scholarship in International Librarianship, awarded annually by the Council on Library and Information Resources to sponsor travel to the IFLA World Library and Information Congress, held this year in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There, he was able to network and share his research interests with information professionals from throughout Ibero-America and the Caribbean.
During the latter half of the year, he conducted fieldwork for his master’s capstone project, which he will conclude during the upcoming semester. His research focuses on the contribution that digital libraries can make as educational resources supporting human development. He is undertaking an analysis of 13 major digital library initiatives in Brazil and has carried out a series of semi-structured interviews with project managers.
“The goal of my research is to determine the extent to which human development has formed part of the rationale for creating digital libraries in Brazil,” says Thompson. “My research is guided by the conviction that the expansion of digital information services can play a role in bridging the gap between libraries and local communities throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.”
With Cavan McCarthy (Louisiana State University, retired), he is currently co-authoring a chapter on Brazil for the second of a two-volume IFLA publication titled Libraries in the Early 21st Century: An International Perspective, scheduled for publication in early 2012.
AUSTIN, Texas — The Benson Latin American Collection (BLAC) and the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies (LLILAS) are joining efforts in an inventive approach to achieving common goals.
Effective Sept. 1, the two distinguished Latin American keystone institutions at The University of Texas at Austin will integrate their respective staffs and missions in a three-year plan that places them under a sole directorship.
Dr. Charles Hale, who has served as director of LLILAS since 2009, will helm the LLILAS-BLAC effort to unite the institutions’ student programs, research and scholarly resources related to Latin America. Dr. Juliet Hooker will continue as associate director of LLILAS, and Dr. David Block will become associate director of BLAC.
“Especially in this era of budget scarcity, it is exciting and promising for a university-based initiative to enter a phase of expansion and transformation, raising two venerable institutions to new heights of excellence, while at the same time conserving resources, and taking full advantage of untapped synergies,” Hale says of the collaboration.
The plan exemplifies four key priorities of current university-wide directives on enhancing the benefits of higher education.
- Hemispheric collaboration. As practices that emphasize horizontal and reciprocal relationships with Latin American colleagues and peer institutions become the prevailing standard, LLILAS-BLAC will lead this collaborative reinvention in the field of Latin American studies.
- Scholarly integration. BLAC scholarly resources will be developed through increased dialogue with faculty, graduate students and visiting scholars, the principal users of the collection, and faculty consultations will be used to enhance and expand the scholarly program at the BLAC.
- Public engagement. LLILAS-BLAC will increase its presence to sectors beyond the university by providing educational opportunities, outreach programs and awareness of its work and resources to the larger public.
- Development. Through a focused effort based on shared goals, this combined site of Latin American studies will attract new resources to support the programs and collections benefitting the global study of Latin America.
“We’re enthusiastic about the prospects for this collective enterprise,” says University of Texas Libraries Director Dr. Fred Heath. “By closely aligning academic teaching and scholarly research with the resources of the university’s collections, we think we’ve hit upon a novel structure that is informed by the strategic goals of the university.”
A program review by the College of Liberal Arts and the University of Texas Libraries at the close of the pilot period will determine the future course of the venture.
“The pilot between LLILAS and BLAC is a natural and innovative way to further strengthen our premier Latin American studies initiatives offered by the university,” says Dr. Randy L. Diehl, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “I expect to see many positive outcomes in the area of scholarly collaboration and public engagement. I’m excited to see the future possibilities unfold.”
Travis M. Willmann
University of Texas Libraries
The University of Texas at Austin