In Memoriam: Barbara Valk

Librarian Emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and founder of the Hispanic American Periodicals Index (HAPI)

In Memoriam: Barbara Valk

It is with great sadness that we share news of the death of Barbara “Bobbi” Valk, Librarian Emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and founder of the Hispanic American Periodicals Index (HAPI).

After studying at Smith College and Rosary College, Barbara began her career as a librarian at the Arizona State University. In 1973, while at ASU, she developed an index to the local periodical collection for Latin American studies. Members of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) learned of this and viewed it as a possible model for a larger index to the periodical literature of Latin America. Barbara moved to the UCLA Latin American Center (now the Latin American Institute) to create the publication and serve as director of the newly-christened HAPI, a position she filled until her retirement in 2005. She obtained a number of grants to support the creation of what was a pioneering effort to make resources from and about Latin America accessible to researchers. HAPI quickly became a key research resource for Latin American studies. Under her guidance, HAPI ultimately was transformed into the first online database for the field, enabling delighted scholars and students to perform their research with much-enhanced efficiency. 

Barbara was an active member and leader within SALALM throughout her career. She served as SALALM President in 1984 and twice hosted the organization’s annual meeting at UCLA. Additionally, she served for many years as Chair of SALALM’s Editorial Board and under her watch the publications of SALALM rose to a new level in terms of quality, quantity and scholarship. Her creativity and leadership contributed greatly to the strength of SALALM and she developed a network of people working together from many institutions in a number of countries--a process that has strengthened the ties of the membership. 

She is the only three-time recipient of the José Toribio Medina Award for outstanding contributions by SALALM members to Latin American Studies for HAPI, Borderline: A Bibliography of the United States-Mexico Borderlands, and Latin American Studies: A Basic Guide to Sources. She also served as Associate Editor to the book Latin America and the Caribbean: A Critical Guide to Research Sources, another Medina Award winner. Upon her retirement she was named an Honorary Member of the organization.

Those who worked with Barbara from many parts of the world remember her as a warm and vibrant personality as well as a dedicated professional with an impressive work ethic and immense intellectual energy. She could be counted on for both big ideas and the hard work required to accomplish visionary projects. Over the years she was a mentor and a friend to many and left an indelible mark on the field of Latin American librarianship.

Barbara is survived by her devoted husband Peter and children David, Dana, and Lauren, daughter-in-law Amy, and grandson Douglas.