Grecia Álvarez (MLIS) is a librarian and an EFL instructor who specializes in Cataloging and Information Literacy Instruction. Her first encounter with Morocco was in 2010-2011, when she was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at Abdelmalek Essaâdi University in Tetouan. She has been working on various projects at the Legation since her arrival in Tangier last September, including volunteering as an English teacher in our Arabic literacy program for the women of the medina.
Her librarian work at the Legation has been possible thanks to a generous grant provided by the U.S. Embassy in Rabat.
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We librarians lead pretty exciting lives. We come into daily contact with objects of incalculable value, like books and papers that have played a role in furthering relations between peoples and nations.
Nowhere is this truer than at the Legation. Over the last few months, I have had the singular privilege of ruffling through a myriad of instrumental tomes, some dating back to the 1700s. These are books and original documents that have passed through the hands of local and international celebrities and are, miraculously, still available today for perusal.
Contemplating these collections is all a part of a day’s work for me, as I help to migrate the Legation’s paper-based catalog, that has served the library well since the 1970’s, to its new online home at LibraryThing. While there is still a lot of work to be done, especially in the way of classifying books into the Library of Congress classification system (which means labeling, one-by-one, close to 8,000 books!), my hope is that this new catalog will help researchers the world-over get a clearer picture of our unique holdings. Who knows, maybe with a more discoverable catalog the library will garner more visits from scholars and people interested in Morocco. Nothing makes a librarian’s heart happier than a well-used library.
While my time in Tangier is quickly coming to an end, I hope to continue perfecting our catalog remotely. I invite all of you to get involved too and play a part in enriching our collections. With just a few clicks through to our Amazon Wishlist, you can donate a book (or two!) to fill some of our information needs. Local and international researchers will benefit immensely from your gifts, now and for years to come.
Grecia Álvarez; photo Gerald Loftus