Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Shared Passion

Nettie Lee Benson should have met the Mexican writer Carlos Monsiváis. Maybe she did; I don’t know. But a visit to the Museo del Estanquillo in Mexico City makes it clear that they shared a sense of esthetics and documentation that shaped important aspects of their lives.

Monsiváis’ voracious collecting appetite included all types of Mexican materials. The current exhibit at the Estanquillo, like so many in Mexico these days, recalls events of 1910, but in this case the great celebration sponsored by the Diaz regime, rather than the Revolution that would soon chase Don Porfirio from power. And visiting it inspires a sense of déjà vu in anyone familiar with Nettie Lee’s legacy and the objects now on display in the Benson Collection’s Reading Room. Vitrine after vitrine at the museum hold programs from the celebration, including events as varied as the return of martyred revolutionary hero Jose de Morelos’ uniform by the Spanish ambassador—who knew they had it a century on?—and the better known convening of the International Congress of Americanists in Mexico City and Teotihuacan. Monsiváis collected large and small— life-sized bronze busts, folio albums commemorating the Diaz regime’s accomplishments, invitations issued to the dozens of official events, menus from banquets, commemorative cigar wrappers, telegrammed regrets (the Bulgarians couldn’t make it).

If Carlos and Nettie Lee were acquainted, he must have been pleased to learn that her library was to be honored with the Medalla de 1808, presented the week of his death in Mexico City. And even if they never met, Nettie Lee would surely have known of their kindred passions.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Presidential Message- April 2011

As I begin this message, I am struck by how quickly my term as SALALM President is progressing. Although several weeks remain until the presidency changes hands, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on my experience. It has been a genuine pleasure to serve as SALALM President. I have had the opportunity to learn in-depth about the organization and its function; engage more broadly with my fellow SALALMistas; and represent SALALM at both the Ferias del Libro in Bogotá and Guadalajara last year. I also greatly appreciate serving at a time of change within the organization. In my years as a SALALM member, I have seen many changes in SALALM, none perhaps as extensive as those proposed under the E-SALALM initiative. In short order, SALALM will not only revamp its communications and outreach models, but also modernize routine functions. It will likely take a couple more years for all of the changes to take effect, but I am confident that we will accomplish this goal. This is truly an exciting time to be a SALALM member and officer. For anyone considering future service as SALALM President, let me say that it is truly a rewarding opportunity.

Now for a few updates…

First and foremost, I want to welcome Peter Johnson to his new role as SALALM Treasurer. As I mentioned in my announcement on LALA-L, Peter brings extensive experience with the Finance committee and Investment Working Group. As a long-time SALALM member, Peter also has an intimate understanding of the organization. SALALM is facing significant challenges in the coming years. I feel confident that Peter is well-positioned to lead SALALM in mattes of finance.

Hard to believe, but SALALM LVI is just around the corner! I am about the program, which is coming together nicely. The theme appears to have struck a chord not only amongst SALALMistas, but also with colleagues in Latin America. I received and accepted many interesting paper and panel proposals. Soon Roberto Delgadillo and I will be calling for moderators and rapporteurs. Please consider participating in one or other capacity.

Some of you have asked about the keynote speaker. It is a pleasure to announce that Peter Kornbluh will be the SALALM LVI keynote speaker. Peter is Senior Analyst and Director of the National Security Archive’s Cuba and Chile Documentation Projects. Peter will share his perspective and experience in documenting human rights at the Archive. In turn, Peter expressed interest in talking with SALALMistas about the archive and its uses in research in instruction. Therefore, I have also arranged a session on Monday afternoon for a conversation with Peter.

SALALM LVI will also host a meeting of GPLASC: the Greater Philadelphia Latin American Studies Consortium ( GPLASC is a co-sponsor of SALALM LVI and hopes to connect with librarians and libreros alike.

Lastly, to follow up on the many E-SALALM initiatives, I scheduled an update on Sunday, May 29th. I hope you will join us to learn about proposed changes to the SALALM Newsletter and web site; recommendations for intra-SALALM communication and routing functions and an update on the initiative to produce SALALM sponsored webinars.

Nerea Llamas, University of Michigan