This week I got to meet Dan Hazen, Associate Librarian of Harvard College for collection development, and what a treat it was! I was most interested in learning about his involvement in international programs to promote libraries. We talked about PLALA (Program for Latin American Libraries and Archives), which he co-founded with Norman Fiering from the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, and Ignacio de Larramendi, head of Fundación Histórica Tavera. The initial committee, along with a grant from the Mellon Foundation set out to provide help, at the most basic level, to small libraries and archives throughout Latin America. Grants tend to be around $10,000 and are used for projects such as buying shelves to get material off the floor, to fix leaking roofs, or in some cases for converting collection to microform. This program has also been effective in encouraging others to help out. In Argentina, Fundación Antorchas has taken the challenge and has matched a few of PLALA’s grants in the region (sadly they have since gone out of business). They have created their own competition for microfilming projects. Libraries and archives that have benefited from these grants have also publicized them, and have therefore created renewed interests in their institutions and collections.

Hazen’s enthusiasm for the library world is positively infectious and has been greatly inspiring. I’m going to start working on getting my own hands involved in similar initiatives.

– This post was approved by Dan Hazen –