Five questions with Catalina Gómez, Reference Librarian, Hispanic Reading Room

The following cross-post was written by Catalina Gómez and originally appeared on the Library of Congress “Teaching with the Library” blog.

Catalina Gomez

Catalina Gomez

Describe what you do at the Library of Congress and the materials you work with.

I am a reference librarian in the Library’s Hispanic Reading Room, which serves as a research center for patrons interested in using our Luso-Hispanic collections. These collections are vast, and can include materials in a myriad of formats: from books, to historical manuscripts, photographs, films, maps, audio recordings. They pertain to the regions of Spain, Portugal, Latin America, Caribbean, the indigenous cultures of those areas, and the peoples influenced by Luso-Hispanic heritage such as U.S. Latinos. More specifically, I am in charge of recommending collections from Colombia, Venezuela, as well as material on Latin American art for the Library; and I work on the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape, a collection of audio recordings of prominent poets and prose writers, which the Hispanic Division began curating in the early 1940s. I have been working on an effort to digitize and bring online access to some of these literary audio archives.

Do you have a favorite item from the Library’s online collections?

Yes, I think my favorite item in the Library is the recording of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda reading his poetry which is part of the Archives of Hispanic Literature on Tape.

Share a time when an item from the collections sparked your curiosity.

In addition to literature, I am very passionate about the visual arts. Because of this, some of the materials that have definitely sparked my curiosity here in the Library have been materials from the Artist’s Book collection. These outstanding books are housed at the Library’s Rare Book and Special Collection Division. They are gorgeous works of art created by book artists around the world, and they’re just the perfect blend between my two favorite worlds: literature and art!

Tell us about a memorable interaction with a K-12 teacher or student.

Juan Felipe Herrera, Sarita Sol Gonzales and Elena Medina. Photograph by Shawn Miller

Juan Felipe Herrera, Sarita Sol Gonzales and Elena Medina. Photograph by Shawn Miller

One of my most memorable interactions with a K-12 students was during our Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s closing event this past April. For this program, two amazing 11-year-olds, Sarita Sol González, and Elena Izcalli Medina, were flown by the Library from across the country (from New Mexico and California respectively) to share the stage with the Poet Laureate. These girls, who call themselves, “poetas chicanas feministas” (feminist chicana poets), read their own poetry and made our hearts soar. Before and after their reading I had very memorable conversations with them about the power of books, poetry, art, and the great importance of knowing and loving our roots. It was definitely an interaction that I won’t forget.

What’s one thing you’d like to tell teachers about the materials that you work with or the collections in general?

One thing I’d like to tell teachers about our collections here in the Library of Congress is that they are truly universal. They not only represent the most important aspects of American history and culture, but also vast and comprehensive collections from many nations of the world. These international collections are so vast that often-times researchers from a given country have to travel to the Library  to find wonderful and unique materials from their own nation and culture. Our collections truly reflect the universality that characterized Thomas Jefferson, whose personal library became the seed for what this Library is today.

Letters About Literature: Dear Maya Angelou

The following cross-post was written by Erin Allen and originally appeared on the Library of Congress blog. Last month, the Library announced the 2016 winners of the Letters About Literature contest, a national reading and writing program that asks young people in grades 4 through 12 to write to an author (living or deceased) about how […]

“To Find Our Larger Self”: An Interview with Juan Felipe Herrera

As a follow-up to the publication of “@ the Crossroads—A Sudden Poem”—written by our Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and originally published as part of the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series on July 10th—Poetry and Literature Center Head Robert Casper conducted an interview over e-mail with the Poet Laureate. — The U.S. Poet Laureate is not required to write […]

“@ the Crossroads—A Sudden American Poem” by 21st Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera

A quick post to enclose the below, which was written by our Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and originally published as part of the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series yesterday, July 10th. @ the Crossroads—A Sudden American Poem Juan Felipe Herrera, 1948 . RIP Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Dallas police officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, […]

From the Archive: Jane Hirshfield at the 2009 National Book Festival

I’m excited to announce the launch of a new From the Catbird Seat series, “From the Archive.” The monthly series will champion the Library’s literary programming by highlighting audio and video recordings drawn from the Library’s extensive online collections, including the recently released Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature. The series, by showcasing the works […]

Capital Pride LGBT Poetry Event Webcast

Hello again! A happy note to let you know that we were able to get the webcast for our 2014 LGBT literary program up, which I referenced earlier this month as part of From the Catbird’s Seat’s “Literary Treasures” series. You can view it by either finding it below or visiting the Library’s webcast webpage. […]

Literary Treasures: LGBT Literary Event

The following post is part of our From the Catbird Seat series, “Literary Treasures.” The monthly series champions the Library’s literary programming by highlighting audio and video recordings drawn from the Library’s extensive online collections, including the recently released Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature. The series, by showcasing the works and thoughts of some […]

Commencement Addresses by U.S. Poets Laureate

It’s commencement season across college and university campuses, which can mean only one thing: celebrities, politicians, business executives, famous graduates, and other notable citizens invited to address the current crop of graduates have wrestled with the best way to share their experience, advice, and encouragement while avoiding the clichés and truisms that often are the […]