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Hispanic Heritage Month Highlight: 50 New Literary Recordings Available to Stream Online

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The following is a guest post by Catalina Gomez, curator for the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape, Hispanic Division. The post originally appeared on the 4 Corners of the World: International Collections blog.

Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th – October 15th) is a wonderful moment to showcase the many fascinating collections and archives within the Library that reflect the history and culture of the Spanish-speaking world. During the month, we’ll be hosting events within the historic Thomas Jefferson Building and also providing online access to our digital materials.

The annual online release of material from the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape (AHLOT) is becoming a Library tradition during Hispanic Heritage Month. The archive is the Library’s collection of audio recordings of poets and writers from Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula, the Caribbean, and the LatinX community in the United States reading from their works. The collection has been curated in the Library’s Hispanic Reading Room since 1943. Every year for the past five years, we have been providing online access to 50 additional recordings from this historic archive, and with this year’s uploads, 250 recordings will now be available for online streaming. (The entire collection has almost 800 recordings, and it continues to grow).

This year’s release includes some exciting finds, such as a 1976 interview with Jorge Luis Borges, a delightful poetry reading with Brazil’s Vinicius de Moraes (known to many as the writer of Bossa Nova lyrics, such as “Garota de Ipanema”), and sessions with Catalan poet Salvador Espriu and Angolan poet Ondjaki—the archive includes writers from African countries with Portuguese and Spanish heritage—as well as readings with some of today’s most renowned LatinX poets, including Carmen Giménez Smith, Valerie Martínez, and Rigoberto González.

From left to right: Gabriela Mistral, Julio Cortázar, Pablo Neruda, Jorge Luis Borges.

Whether you are a literature lover, schoolteacher, professor, a curious online wanderer, or someone interested in learning or practicing Spanish, Portuguese, or any language spoken in the regions covered by this collection (the collection has recordings in English, French, Dutch, Haitian Creole, Aymara, Quechua, Nahuatl, Zapotec, Catalan, Basque, and Galician Spanish), we think you will find a recording that will interest and delight you. We hope you will take some time to delve into these literary treasures and share our new online content.

This year has been an important one for this collection. Not only did we continue to deepen our work to expand the archive and continue providing digital access to these recordings, but we also began working on a rebranding effort. The collection’s current name, “The Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape,” alludes to an analog past—from 1943 to 2006 the recordings for the archive were captured on magnetic tape. Today all the analog content has been digitized and all recordings after 2006 have been digitally captured. The collection’s name is not entirely appropriate for a resource that has moved into the digital age. Through lively discussions and brainstorming sessions with colleagues, patrons, and our friends in the literary community, we have been leaning toward “PALABRA” (The PALABRA Archive) as a possible new title for this collection. This is not yet set in stone—we will be making a final decision in the upcoming months and launching the archive’s new name next year. “Palabra” means “word” in Spanish, and it’s appealing to us because its meaning references the written and the spoken word, which are celebrated and preserved within this collection. Stay tuned and please let us know in the comments section what you think about the newly released recordings and the name change!

2019 Uploads – Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape







Costa Rica


Dominican Republic


El Salvador








Puerto Rico