This October, GSLIS will welcome to campus Cuban librarian and educator Marta Terry González, a George A. Miller Visiting Professor. Her visit was organized by GSLIS Associate Professor Kate Williams, who coauthored Terry’s biography with GSLIS Professor Emeritus Abdul Alkalimat.
“Cuba and the United States are working out a new state-to-state relationship, and all kinds of new collaborations are possible. GSLIS is leading the way in this arena by bringing a Cuban librarian to campus to talk with students, scholars, professionals, and the public,” said Williams.
Marta Terry has been called a legendary librarian. In the 1950s, she was instrumental in the development of Cuba’s school libraries. Much later, she brought the World Library and Information Congress to Latin America for the first time, to Havana, with her IFLA colleague and GSLIS alumnus Robert Wedgeworth (MS ’61).
“Throughout her career she directed important libraries, educated several generations of librarians, and fought countless battles that made libraries stronger. Of course, Marta did all this with finesse and panache. She told her story to us, her two biographers, and now nine campus units have helped bring her to Illinois to revise and extend those remarks,” said Williams. Terry’s biography, Roots and Flowers: The Life and Work of Afro Cuban Librarian Marta Terry González, was published by Library Juice Press in February 2015.
“Bringing her [to campus] gives Marta, our School, and others a way to write the book of the future, talking about and imagining together what might unfold in our and Cuba’s libraries,” said Alkalimat.
Terry’s visit will include several speaking engagements:
On Tuesday, October 13, Terry will participate in a discussion moderated by Clara M. Chu, Mortenson Center director and Mortenson distinguished professor. The event will be held at the International and Area Studies Library (321 Main Library) from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
On Wednesday, October 14, Terry will deliver a talk titled, “Dialogue with a Veteran Cuban Librarian: The Long View on Literacy, Literary Culture, Digitization and Revolution,” as part of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies Lecture Series. The event will be held at the International Studies Building, Room 101, at 3:00 p.m.
On Thursday, October 15, Terry will deliver a talk titled, “Libraries and Literary Culture: An Inside View of Cuba’s Information Revolution,” as part of the MillerComm Lecture Series. The event will be held at the Spurlock Museum at 4:00 p.m. A reception will follow the lecture.
On Friday, October 16, Terry will speak at the GSLIS History Salon meeting. “A Few Stories from Cuban Library History, Told by a Protagonist” will be held in room 131 LIS from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. From 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. she will participate in an open discussion hosted by GSLIS and the Department of Latina/Latino Studies, held at 1207 W. Oregon St., Urbana, Room 133.
At 4:30 p.m. on Monday, October 19, Terry will meet with staff, patrons, and friends of the Lozano Branch Library in Chicago (1805 S Loomis St.). Conversation will be in Spanish.
Terry’s career has been influential in Cuba and internationally. In the 1960s, she supported Che Guevara as he organized the National Planning Board (JUCEPLAN) that set the post-1958 course for Cuba’s development. From 1967-1987, she was library director at Casa de Las Américas, which connected writers and their readers across Latin America and set a model for combining liberation politics and innovative cultural production. From 1987-1997, she was director of the José Martí National Library, at which time the library was assigned responsibility for all public library development in Cuba. A participant in international library gatherings since the 1950s, Terry was a leader in establishing Cuba’s international library reputation and connections through the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA).