Latin American Library welcomes back its collections

September 22, 2015 10:00 AM

Carol J. Schlueter

1913 book from Latin American Library collection

A special exhibit at the Latin American Library includes the 1913 book Panama Canal Pictures, published by Wilmer Atkinson Co., Philadelphia. Its cover art is shown here; the book includes construction photos of the Panama Canal. (From the collection of Donna L. Gillis, Latin American Library)

“We are ecstatic that the special collections are back uptown.”

Hortensia Calvo, Doris Stone Director, Latin American Library

For more than a decade, the Latin American Library at Tulane University has held an open house each fall, but this year’s event also celebrates a homecoming, welcoming back the most precious parts of its collection from two years of protective off-site storage.

Doris Stone Director Hortensia Calvo sent the special collections away while a construction project added two new floors to Howard-Tilton Memorial Library directly above the Latin American Library’s fourth-floor location. Now the Latin American Library will have lots to celebrate at the open house and book sale on Friday (Sept. 25) from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

“We are ecstatic that the special collections are back uptown,” Calvo said. “You can imagine the care you have to take when transporting materials that have been kept in dark, quiet, climate-controlled places.”

Workers moved over 8,000 volumes of rare books; more than 5,000 linear feet of manuscripts; 4,300 rare maps; 112,500 rare images from the library’s photographic archive; and nearly 2,000 rubbings of Mayan stelae or monuments from archaeological sites.

While the collections were in storage at Howard-Tilton’s off-site depository at 900 Jeff Davis Parkway in New Orleans, Calvo’s staff traveled three days weekly to service the collection, which professors and students often use for research and class projects. “It was not the easiest thing for users, so we want to celebrate,” Calvo said.

In conjunction with the open house, the library will have a special exhibit for visitors to enjoy starting on Friday through mid-December. “The Latin American Library, A Retrospective: 90 Years of Engagement,” includes original Mexican painted manuscripts or codices, mostly from the 16th century; original letters of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes; original design drawings by renowned silver jewelry artist William Spratling, as well as jewelry pieces on loan from Penny Morrill; and original photographs and documents relating to Panamanian history and construction of the Panama Canal.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu