As students studied quietly on the other side of velvet ropes with “Section is Closed” signs… As students studied quietly on the other side of velvet ropes with “Section is Closed” signs attached to them, approximately 100 people gathered for the dedication of the new Latin American Reading Room on the first floor of the Hillman Library.
In a public ceremony on Thursday, faculty, contributors and those who played a part in the creation of the room milled about, talking, shaking hands and enjoying hors d’oeuvres before the presentation began. There was a low student turnout with only one or two in attendance for the hour-long ceremony.
As people entered the room, which houses the Eduardo Lozano Latin American Collection, they were handed champagne served from silver punch bowls to be used later in a toast.
The first presenter to speak was Rush Miller, Hillman University Librarian, who said that nothing about the library is “more important or more outstanding than its Latin American collection.”
He then praised Eduardo Lozano, Pitt’s Latin American bibliographer, for compiling the largest collection of its type in the United States. Miller also pointed out the bibliographer’s artistic achievements, making reference to two of Lozano’s colorful paintings, hanging side by side in the room.
Although this was the official opening, the room has been accessible for weeks. Miller said it has become one of the most popular spaces in Hillman Library.
“It is a wonderful focal point for the Latin American collection and the students who are studying at the Center for Latin American Studies,” Miller said of the room.
Dr. Kathleen DeWalt, director of the Center for Latin American Studies, which has about 315 students in its program, said that it has been the dream of the faculty and staff to have such a distinguished collection in the library.
“More importantly,” DeWalt said, “we have a space dedicated here where students, faculty and members of a wider community can study, meet and interact.” She added that the conference room adjacent has already been booked for meetings centered on Latin American studies.
The glass-encased room, which features carved wooden columns and arches, and reflects the culture of Latin America, was designed by Peruvian-American architect Victor Beltran. He said he wanted to create a space that was both traditional and contemporary.
“I wanted to it to be comfortable for students to come to read and see news from Latin American countries,” Beltran said.
The dedication ended with a toast by DeWalt, who said “the room has been a labor of love for many people for many years.”
“I’d like to toast all of us,” DeWalt said, nodding at Lozano, “the library, the collection, the individuals who have helped to build it. Let us toast this room.”