What Drives Rafael Emilio Tarrago

And his thirst for knowledge and desire to share it?

Rafael TarragoRafael Emilio Tarrago has a palpable thirst for knowledge and a quest to share it with others. It’s this hunger to learn that still motivates him after 20 years as a librarian at the University of Minnesota.

The librarian for history, political science, and Iberian, Ibero-American, and Chicano/Latino Studies, Tarrago serves as a hub of information and source material for professors and students alike. There’s little he enjoys more than discovering professors’ or students’ needs, then connecting them with the material or people that will contribute to their work.

“At the U, there are students and faculty who are motivated by learning,” Tarrago says. “I like to work with them, sharing with them what I know about research strategies and information sources available to them through the University of Minnesota Libraries, as well as connecting them with others at the U producing scholarly work related to their research.”

He’s ‘proactive’ on developing collections 

Contrary to images of librarians squirreled away amongst the stacks, Tarrago spends a fair amount of time getting together with people on and off campus to further develop his collections. He meets with professors about their needs for books, journals, documentaries, and other materials and gives presentations to classes about advanced research strategies and using library resources. Tarrago also attends book fairs and conferences at the U of M and nationally to learn about the latest offerings in his specialties.

“I want to be proactive and make sure our collections have what professors are going to be needing,” says Tarrago.

Tarrago connects people on campus

Tarrago, a native of Cuba who has been an American citizen for more than 40 years, also is a connector of people. He strives to link students with professors who specialize in topics they are interested in, as well as connect professors from different departments who have shared interests.

A member of the Latin American Studies Association and the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM), Tarrago is proud to demonstrate the strength of the University of Minnesota’s Latin American collections to other librarians. In addition, he works to bolster those offerings, recently facilitating the digitization of the complete holding of the journal Ideologies & Literature, which was edited by professors at the Department of Spanish & Portuguese Studies 40 years ago.

“I’m excited about the support we got to digitize Ideologies & Literature and to show the world what we have and what we do,” Tarrago says. “I value learning and sharing knowledge, as well as bringing people together to share their knowledge.”

—Suzy Frisch


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