The Latin American Library Rare Books School Summer Course
In mid-June, The Latin American Library (LAL) offered a satellite summer course with Rare Book School (RBS), a leading educational institute for topics concerning old and rare books, manuscripts, and special collections, housed at the University of Virginia.
LAL librarians, Drs. Hortensia Calvo, Christine Hernández, and Rachel Stein co-designed and taught the course, titled "Spanish American Textualities to c. 1820." It explored the history of textualities in the region now referred to as Spanish America from the pre-colonial to colonial period (c. 300 BC to c. 1820 AD). The framework of “textualities”—as opposed to “the book”—encompasses the variety of material modes of writing and recording employed before and after 1492. The course was designed to feature the rich holdings of unique materials and primary sources housed at The Latin American Library as a laboratory for learning about a broad range of topics, from stone inscriptions and painted texts on artifacts of a variety of materials produced by ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, to writing with ink on linen paper, and manual printing on the moveable-type press after 1539 when this technology first arrived in Mexico.
The 30-hour course was offered in person at The Latin American Library from June 12-17, 2022. It was attended by an enthusiastic group of 13 librarians, archivists, teaching faculty, and other scholars from some of the foremost academic institutions in the country, who traveled from as far away as Hawaii and the United Kingdom. According to Sócrates Silva, Latin American and Iberian Studies Librarian at Columbia and Cornell Universities, the course was “one of the learning highlights of my professional career and I'm writing to thank and congratulate [Drs. Calvo, Hernández and Stein]for such a thought provoking week.” Others were similarly enthusiastic.