Wow! What a wonderful conference SALALM 54 was! My sincerest congratulations and gratitude to Past President Pamela Graham, to the Local Arrangements Committee chaired by Peter Altekrüger, to the Ibero-American Institute, and to the SALALM Secretariat for organizing a truly memorable event. What I appreciated the most from an overall solid and stimulating conference program was that it offered an excellent opportunity to engage the work and perspectives of colleagues and scholars from across the Atlantic.
Naturally, each participant experienced the conference according to his or her particular interests and time constraints, but I suspect that I would not be mistaken by claiming that most of us found the keynote address by Professor Ludwig Ellenberg, German Geographers in Latin America, to be one of the conference highlights. I am also sure that, for those of us who traveled to Berlin from the Americas, it was a pleasure and an enriching experience to count with the participation of numerous members of the Red Europea de Información y Documentación sobre América Latina (REDIAL). I am confident that the communication and the collaboration between the members of REDIAL and SALALM will increase thanks to relations established during the conference, including the signing of a formal collaboration agreement between both organizations.
I shall not leave unmentioned the truly special social and cultural events to which we were lavishly treated, including the guided tours of the Ibero-American Institute and of the exhibition on Robert Lehmann-Nitsche and Argentina, the spectacular boat tour through Berlin, and the Libreros Reception at the Gemäldegalerie. Thank you!
I would also like to use this space to personally thank a small group of librarians and libreros, including S. Lief Adelson, Darlene Hull, Angela J. Kinney, Nerea Llamas, Holly Ackerman, and Linda Russo, for participating in a panel that I organized and moderated, titled Adaptation and Innovation: Libraries and Libreros on Collections, Technical Services and the Economic Crisis. All of them offered thoughtful reports and/or reflections on the impact that the recent economic crisis is having or is likely to have on their areas of work, and on how their libraries or businesses are adapting to rapidly changing circumstances. Even though their perspectives and personal views differed, sometimes markedly, I found it quite revealing that all of them suggested that innovative forms of cooperation are necessary, and that successful adaptation will require a collective effort.
From the moment that I started putting the panel together back in the spring, I had been nervously hoping that it would produce a discussion as lively and serious as the one generated last year at the New Orleans conference by David Blocks paper Where Are We?; Where We May Be Going; What Will We Do There (available at http://hdl.handle.net/1813/10827). I was pleased to see that the panel was very well attended and that it also provoked many thoughtful reactions and ideas from an engaged audience. I think that it served, not only as a continuation of the previous year’s discussion, but also as a way of preparing our mindsets for the SALALM 2010 conference.
In order to bring what I consider to be an essential conversation to the next level, next year we will have a departure, or a hiatus, from the usual practice of organizing the conference theme around an academic topic or discipline. Instead, the meeting will serve as a broad forum for examining, debating, and learning about practical and theoretical aspects related to new trends affecting academic and research libraries. These trends, most of us probably agree, will have systematic implications on the way in which Latin American research library collections are built and the manner in which research libraries provide access to the region’s documentation and creative expression production. The aim of the conference will then be to foster the development of ideas and strategies which could be adopted by SALALM, its members, and other important stakeholders in order to both adapt and shape outcomes.
SALALM LV, The Future of Latin American Library Collections and Research: Contributing and Adapting to New Trends in Research Libraries, will take place at the Providence Biltmore Hotel in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, near Brown University, on July 23-27, 2010.
I am very excited about taking on the responsibility of organizing a successful conference and consider myself fortunate to be collaborating with Patricia Figueroa, our colleague from Brown University and head of the Local Arrangements Committee. Patricia initiated preparations for the conference months ago and has already made available a conference website at http://dl.lib.brown.edu/salalm/. Even though it is still a little early, please review it and start familiarizing with the conference theme and other important details.
We will be sending much more information about SALALM 55 soon. I promise!