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Martha Mantilla

Martha Mantilla's picture
Martha Mantilla
171 Hillman Library - University of Pittsburgh 3960 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA. 15260 USA

412 648 7734
Q: What is/are your primary subject area(s)?

A: Latin American Studies and Iberian Studies.

Q: What is your background in these areas?

A: I have a Certificate in Latin American Studies along with a PhD in Administrative and Policy studies in Education with focus on educational policies in Latin America.

Q: What sorts of services do you offer? Tell us about some of the instruction sessions or classes you’ve led.

A: I have led instructional lessons in many areas, including: Colonial Latin America, Caribbean Migration and History, Early Latin American History, the Cold War in Latin America, and Transatlantic Slave Trade. Aside from that, I also provide library instruction for undergraduates who are preparing for their Field Trip to Latin America with the aim of preparing them for their cross-cultural experience. I provide them with an overview of the country and how to live and conduct research in the field.

Q: What tips do you have for students in your subject area(s)?

A: Contact your subject specialists because we are here to help you. Finding information for research in Latin America may be somewhat challenging. Fortunately, libraries have designed new ways to make research materials more obtainable in print and electronic formats.

Q: Why do you think the library remains important in the twenty-first century?

A: Libraries remain important because they provide reference services to visitors. In the twenty-first century the services have been extended to real-time online references, whereby people use online chat software to ask librarians questions and receive answers. Libraries are embracing the latest technology and reinventing themselves online. Throughout the centuries, libraries have been a key source of information and knowledge. They have evolved from being "libraries in chains" in the middle ages to libraries without borders in current times. In the twenty first-century, libraries can be in both a physical or virtual space. That is one of the beauties of open access and free knowledge for all.

Q: What do you think people would find most surprising about the library or what you do as a librarian?

A: I often use somewhat unconventional methods to find the information needed for our users. For example, when the Interlibrary Loan office is not able to obtain journal articles that have been requested by our users I contact my librarian friends and sometimes even Pitt alumni living in Latin America asking them if they can provide the materials for us. I use the compadrazgo system: I have strong ties with librarians and Pitt alumni working in libraries and institutions in Latin American countries, and they are happy to help in the work we do in the “Eduardo Lozano Latin American Collection.” We reciprocate and do the same for them when needed.

Q: How long have you been in the field?

A: For more than twenty five years.

Q: How did you become a librarian?

A: After graduating from High School, I attended a one-year training in Library Science, in La Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango in Bogotá, Colombia. I enjoyed it very much and enrolled in a three-year program at the Universidad Javeriana and obtained a Licenciatura in Library Science. After a few years of working in the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá I came to the United States and continued my career in librarianship, which has been very fulfilling and rewarding in my professional life.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

A: I love working together with professors, students and other librarians. They are an inspiration for me. The academic environment is very fulfilling because it is stimulating and I am rarely bored.

Q: What was the last good book you read?

A: The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa. This is a fascinating book about the life of Irish nationalist Roger Casement who dedicated his extraordinary life to helping improve the plight of oppressed peoples, especially the native populations in the Belgian Congo and the Amazon. I learned about the abuses against the Putumayo Indians in the rubber plantations. I just started reading Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie, which is also fascinating!