Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Librarian for Latin American and Caribbean Studies in U.S. Academic and Research Libraries: A Content Analysis of Position Announcements, 1970-2007

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Librarian for Latin American and Caribbean Studies in U.S. Academic and Research Libraries: A Content Analysis of Position Announcements, 1970-2007

Article excerpt

The present research investigates the evolving requirements, roles, and responsibilities of the Latin American and Caribbean studies librarian. Content analysis was used to study 94 position announcements published from 1970 to 2007. Variables were examined from the following categories: position description, educational background, work experience, technology skills, languages, personal traits, duties, and subject responsibilities. Cross tabulations and chi-square tests were executed to determine the statistical significance of relationships between variables. An advanced degree in a related subject field is expected by employers. Strong Spanish language abilities are required, and a working knowledge of Portuguese is highly desirable. The average number of duties per announcement has increased over time, reflecting the evolution of the position from being narrowly specialized to being more diversified. The Latin American and Caribbean studies librarian may also be responsible for additional subjects, in particular Iberian studies.

**********

Latin America has always been a region of considerable importance to the United States because of its proximity, economic and political interrelations, shared history, and immigration. This interest is reflected in a letter signed by more than 360 Latin American experts that was sent to then Senator Barack Obama during the final days of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, calling for improved U.S.-Latin America relations in "a new period of hemispheric understanding and collaboration for the common welfare." (1)

U.S. universities have a long tradition of Latin American and Caribbean studies (LACS), stemming from Cold War--era tensions and accelerated by the Cuban Revolution. In 1979, Lozano and Mesa-Lago stated, "The funding and development of international studies at U.S. universities (particularly in the Latin American area) peaked in the 1960s as a result of domestic and foreign events." (2) Since then, interest in the study of Latin America in the United States has grown significantly, as can be seen in the increasing number of academic programs dealing with Latin America, the increasing number of students enrolled in these programs, and the volume of scholarly research and publications on topics pertaining to the area. According to The College Blue Book, in 1972 there were 120 LACS academic programs, and the number increased steadily to 146 programs in 2001. Growth increased sharply over the next several years to 204 such programs in 2009. (3) Data from the National Center for Education Statistics show that the combined number of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in Latin American studies conferred by U.S. institutions of higher education has nearly doubled from 1970-71 to 2006-7, climbing from 431 to 834 degrees. (4) These trends will most likely continue because of demographic changes in the population that influence demand for programs of study in higher education. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that Hispanics will grow from 12.5 percent of the U.S. population in 2000 to 24.4 percent in 2050. (5)

The significance of Latin American and Caribbean studies as an area of research, given its interdisciplinary nature, can be demonstrated by the growth in the number of dissertations and theses published. A search of the Dissertations and Theses: A&I database using "'Latin America" or "Caribbean" as a subject showed an increase in the number of dissertations and theses published from 908 during the 1970s to 3,696 from 2000 to 2008. There also is a substantial increase in the publication output from Latin American countries. According to the Regional Centre for the Promotion of Books in Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLALC), from 2001 to 2006 the number of new materials from Latin American countries that were assigned an International Standard Book Number grew from 64,640 to 99,566, a 54 percent increase. (6) All these factors have made the study and research of Latin America and the Caribbean more prevalent in U. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.