Happy Birthday, Dear RLDG!

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WESSWeb > WESS Newsletter > Spring 2010 > RLDG, Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Dear RLDG!

You blinked. The Romance Languages Discussion Group (RLDG) is 20 years old. No longer a teen (OMG!), the discussion group enlightens us with two decades of experience as it energizes us with a youthful vim.
The group's stated purpose is "to discuss topics of current interest relating to the acquisition, organization, and use of materials emanating from the Romance-language-speaking countries of Western Europe, or pertaining to any aspect of the study of these countries."
In reflecting upon 20 years of Romance language librarianship, retired-but-not-forgotten Jeffry Larson describes, "Until the financial collapse, the biggest change was the forum provided by the internet, so we could conduct so much of our business and information exchanges without having to be in each other's presence -- the occasional face-to-face contact was a needed leaven."
For many, the WESS and discussion group activities at ALA provide an invaluable and unique opportunity for specialists to work alongside others who do what they do, and to draw upon the expertise of these colleagues.
Taking inspiration from the Germanists Discussion Group, a band of WESSies formed the RLDG in 1991 to support those who work with Romance languages, or as Larson remembers it, "[the motivation] was, for me at least, to emulate the Germanists, and to throw up a Maginot line to keep them from overrunning all of Western Europe, I mean WESS."
On Sunday, June 30, 1991, John Cullars (Chair) and the program subcommittee (Frank Di Trolio, Adan Griego and Nicoletta Hary) invited Mario Casalini and Assunta Pisani to lead the very first discussion. They explored the topic of selecting and acquiring Italian materials, particularly those published in small print runs or from small or private publishers. To kick off the discussion, Mr. Casalini described his criteria for selecting the materials offered by Casalini.
In 2000, a precocious tween (lol!) at age 10, the RLDG discussed opera libretti and the Princeton Dante Project, in keeping with the theme of recognizing the contributions of Mario Casalini. (The 2000 WESS-sponsored program for that year was "Italian Studies and Italian Cultural Presence in North America: A Tribute to the Life and Contributions of Mario Casalini.")
At ALA Annual in 2010, Deb Raftus (University of Washington), the current RLDG Convenor, will facilitate a discussion of the library's role in digital humanities, with a focus on Romance language projects. Raftus promises engaging dialog, meaningful reflection, and cupcakes.
In between, the RLDG pursued topics ranging from vendor services, to supporting language teaching, to issues in translation. For twenty years, the Romance Languages discussion group has been serving its constituents and engaging the wider library community in issues related to the field of Romance Language Studies, all in support of a broader mission: to support study, teaching, and scholarship.
With heartfelt gratitude for the last twenty years of the Romance Language Discussion Group, we look forward to the next twenty, partly in anticipation of picking out a birthday card for a 40-year-old, but mostly for the camaraderie and opportunities to come.


Deb Raftus
Romance Languages & Literatures Librarian
University of Washington Libraries
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