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A donation of gratitude by prolific writer

A new display in Mount Royal University’s Library is celebrating a generous donation and a distinguished academic career.

José Gordillo, PhD, has been teaching courses on Latin American cultures in Mount Royal’s Department of Languages and Cultures since 2009, and the Library display showcases his donation of six of his scholarly publications.

Jose Gordillo
See Jose Gordillo's donation of his six rare works on display at the Library now.

Rare gift

Ask Katharine Barrette, the librarian and associate professor who manages donations to Mount Royal’s Library, why Gordillo’s gift is important, and she explains that it brings a wealth of new material to students and faculty.

“This is a really special donation because it is the kind of material that could be challenging for me as a librarian to go out and acquire,” Barrette says.

“These books are not written in English and they are very specific to José’s work in Bolivia, so they are not easy to come by.”

Gordillo holds a PhD in Latin American history from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. For nearly 30 years, he has been teaching and conducting research in universities in Latin America, Europe and North America, and his teaching and research interests range from Latin American colonial and contemporary histories and cultures to Bolivian pre-colonial, colonial and contemporary ethnicities, cultures and identities.

“This donation is very exciting because it contributes to the collection which is ultimately used by students and faculty in the creation of their own new knowledge,” Barrette says.

A donation from the heart, a gift of gratitude

For Gordillo, donating the books was a symbolic act.

“When I was hired by the Department of Languages and Cultures two years ago, the area of Latin American Studies was recently organized,” he explains.

“I have participated in the process of consolidating the area together with an academic team of innovative minded colleagues.

“Donating my books to the Library is an act of gratitude, which signifies that my expertise and knowledge of Latin American history and society will be used on behalf of Mount Royal’s excellence.”

The actual display has been created by Joan Taylor, an access technician with Library Services. When she decided to expand the installation by including artefacts, she says she made an interesting discovery about Mount Royal.

“What surprised me is that we have such an international campus,” Taylor says. “José’s work is from Bolivia, and it was amazing how many people I asked for visual artefacts also had South American connections.”

Creating the display

Taylor says each display is an important way to feature and promote the Library’s collection, and to recognize the original research done by faculty members.

“It’s almost like a symphony — one person steps forward and talks about their work and then we realize that these are our Mount Royal University authors, creating the composition of the collections," she says.

Taylor also says Library displays offer an opportunity for the campus community to come together and celebrate.

“I was told a lovely story, that the whole Department of Languages and Cultures came to visit the display and take pictures,” she says.

More than a teacher

Katharine Barrette says she has noticed many students taking a look at the display of Gordillo’s books.

“I think students sitting in a class don’t always realize that their professors are also scholars or researchers,” Barrette says.

For Gordillo, the display is an honour.

“It means a lot to me,” he says. “Although I consider myself to be a seasoned university professor with almost 30 years of teaching and researching experience, as a recent immigrant to Canada I was wondering how I would fit within the Canadian academic environment.

“My Mount Royal University experience has been positive and it has been reinforced by the decision of organizing a public display for my books.”

Nancy Cope, March 31, 2011