A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Using the Latino Poetry core literature list supplied by Resources for College Libraries (2007), the school with the highest percentage of titles was Hunter (79.3%). And, while almost eighty percent is surely adequate, it is by no means exemplary.

Brooklyn College's percentage (44.9%) exemplifies that large variances are permitted between college campus libraries. Surely, there should exist some singularities between the holdings of one senior C.U.N.Y library and another senior C.U.N.Y. library; the different campuses represent different academic strengths, but one gets the feeling that large variances are not only permitted but systematically tolerated.

For example, there was an approximate decrease of 30 percent between Hunter (79.3%) and Brooklyn (44.9%); however, this variance was also the case, roughly, between Brooklyn (44.9%) and City College (17.2%). The collection at Queens Colleges possessed 13.8% of the 29 titles supplied by Resources for College Libraries (2007). More importantly, the collections of Queens College and City College together could only account for 31% of the 29 core Latino Poetry titles! Even though the Centro PR at Hunter College is part of the “library,” one would not suspect an archive can lend a substantial domain of support to a collection. But, the ancillary support Centro PR provided in ensuring Hunter attain 80 percent of the 29 titles was substantial at best and necessary at worst.

From these percentages, many Hispanic graduate students might think twice about investing in their future with a C.U.N.Y. school, especially if their futures are intertwined with the M.F.A. programs because those programs can't rely on their campus libraries to provide the bibliographic support for their demographic. Of course, Hispanic graduate students can request titles through inter-library loan; an M.F.A. student at Queens can request a book from the Hunter library; they can even travel to that campus, but that is not the point.

The point is that none of the libraries associated with M.F.A. programs in Creative Writing at C.U.N.Y. have the material support to say that they contribute to the pedagogy dispensed therein. Furthermore, based on the percentages of Latino Poetry titles in the collections of senior college libraries associated with the programs, many U.S. Latino Poets might not want to matriculate in any of these programs because of the lack of resources that the libraries offer. For many burgeoning U.S. Latino Poets this might not prove a criteria--interaction with the faculty or publishing opportunities might sway them more, but what about future U.S. Latino Poets these libraries are not helping to develop?

What about Latino undergraduate students that are eminently interested in U.S. Latino Poetry, and don't know it is an avenue to further explore, both professionally and aesthetically? What about the Latino community college students that need to write a biography on a writer of their choice and are given a limited array of Anglo writers to choose from? What message does an academic library send when it necessarily can't account for gaps in collection? What if those gaps never get plugged and create a sort of intellectual segregation wherein materials of those kinds are not actively sought?

While the what ifs certainly have it, it might prove helpful to discuss some of the ways in which these four libraries can increase the numbers of U.S. Latino Poetry titles available to students of all persuasions. The academic library which had the highest number of the 29 titles supplied by Resources for College Libraries (2007) was Hunter College. A large part of Hunter's success has to do with the Centro PR, the Puerto Rican Archive on the premises of Hunter College's Jacqueline Grennan Wexler Library. Technically, Hunter College M.F.A. students can read titles at the Centro PR so as searches were conducted in the different school's OPAC, if a title was available at the Centro PR and not the The Jacqueline Grennan Wexler Library then that was noted with a check and the initials CPR (Centro Puerto Riqueno).

Of the 23 titles afforded to Hunter: 8 were available at both the Wexler Library and the Centro PR; 9 were only available at the Wexler Library; and, 6 of the 23 were available through the Centro PR only. In other words, Hunter owes a quarter (6 out of 23) of it's adequate proficiency to the Centro PR because 6 of the 23 titles could only be accessed through the Centro PR archive. One can easily see the material advantage that Centro PR lends to the Wexler Library. Could one extrapolate a pattern from Hunter’s example that might improve the numbers of U.S. Latino Poetry titles? What does the interaction between the Centro PR and the Wexlery Library tell us about the administrative confluence that can transpire? And, surely, there are some programs like the Queens College program that are more vulnerable to this deficiency in U.S. Latino Poetry titles.

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