Project Description and Purpose

The Survey of Small Historical Societies, Libraries, and Museums for Hispanic Materials and Their Management is a National Endowment for the Humanities-funded project conducted by Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (Recovery).

The intent of this survey was to identify Hispanic materials in small and midsize institutions and to work collaboratively with the staff of those institutions to preserve and make accessible the documented history of the Hispanic/Latino communities. It was determined that the survey results would be published online and become the basis for a guide to Hispanic materials at small institutions.

Compiling the Data

Recovery researchers worked collaboratively to create a dataset which comprised institutions from the southwest including, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. The database was intended to be published online, taking into account that the included information was openly available and therefore there were no ethical constraints.

The information that was gathered for each institution (if available) was: name, address, webpage, contact email, phone. If there was a specific contact person, then that information was also included.

Once the list dataset was compiled, the Recovery team sent the survey to each institution via email. Participation was voluntary, but due to the fact that it led to collaboration and support from the University of Houston and its experts in preserving, digitizing, and promoting the materials, there were follow-ups for those institutions that did not immediately respond, giving them the opportunity to become familiar with the benefits.

Interpretation of the Data and Workshop

The returned surveys were followed up by phone calls and emails for clarification and additional information. After careful consideration, the Recovery program and the University of Houston libraries invited selected directors, staff members or volunteers of the institutions that responded to the survey to a meeting in Houston to:

1)         review and interpret the findings of the survey

2)         interpret the guide and its potential use

3)         have a panel of UH library experts deal with specific issues that arose during the survey

4)         offer a brief for the University of Houston Libraries professionals to offer consultations to help the small institutions stabilize their collections and upgrade their preservation techniques and accessibility

Overall, the leadership of University of Houston Libraries’ and Recovery offered training, support and material resources to these small institutions so that they could improve their preservation techniques, make their collections more accessible, including marketing to networks of scholars researching both English and Spanish language materials.

Creation of the Digital Map

In addition to publishing the raw data for the use of the public, Recovery’s digital humanists utilized the data gathered over the course of the project to create an interactive map that visualized the findings of the investigation. The map was created with Carto, using the physical location through geocoding. For those organizations that only listed PO boxes, the coordinates for the nearest US postal office in the listed zip code was used. For organizations with no addresses/no physical building, what was used was the coordinates for the center of the area (for example: the capital for a state historical society, the central point of a geographic region for organizations dedicated to specific city/state areas, such as Southwest New Mexico or East LA).

The map was categorized in two modes. The first categorization is that of institutions that responded to the survey, identifiable by blue nodes that indicate the geographical location. The information that can be found for institutions that fall under this category is: the direct web link, institution type, city, state, physical address, Latino materials, and collection themes. The second category includes those institutions that were researched throughout the process of the project but did not respond to the survey, distinguishable by orange nodes. For these institutions the map provides the website, type of institution, city, state, and physical address.