Tools and Topics

Challenges and Successes of Bilingual Metadata

In a virtual session, Margarita Vargas-Betancourt (Latin American and Caribbean Special Collections Librarian at University of Florida) discussed the importance of increasing bilingual access to Latin American collections found in online exhibits and digital repositories.


Challenges and Successes of Bilingual Metadata: Online Exhibits at LACC

Margarita Vargas-Betancourt shows us that decolonizing digital collections requires specialized labor. She analyzes three case studies from the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida to illustrate how faculty and staff are implementing bilingual metadata to improve access to Spanish-speaking audiences.

Case Study 1: Florida and Puerto Rico Newspaper Project

Metadata language should match the original source to make content more accessible. FPRNP has worked to include Spanish language assays with collections.

Case Study 2: The Cuban American Dream

During the development of this exhibit, a Spanish authority file was used to organize bibliographic information of Latin American content to ensure access for Spanish-speaking viewers.

Projects and Courses

Challenging Colonialism Through Archives & Digital Humanities

Margarita Vargas-Betancourt, Ph.D., University of Florida

Project Goals

  • To critically analyze the history of the University of Florida’s Latin American & Caribbean Collection (LACC) and Panama Canal Museum Collection (PCCM) as examples of hegemony and colonialism.
  • To evaluate how library specialists have challenged colonialism and highlighted underrepresented communities through exhibitions.

Outcomes & Deliverables

An exhibit about the Panama Canal Zone was developed and used categories of archival materials that documented underrepresented voices: photographs of workers, documentation of systematic segregation, photographs of agency, letters from laborers, yearbooks, and oral histories.


Margarita’s presentation

Slides from the NEH Digital Caribbean Studies 2019 institute

Exhibit: Voices from the Panama Canal

Object list and interpretive labels from the 2014 exhibit

Panama Canal Museum collection

Access digital collections and the project blog

Research poster

“Voices from the Panama Canal: Finding the Other in the Colonial Archive,” presented at the 2016 American Historical Association conference

Conference paper

“Facing Diversity: Challenges of Curating an Exhibit on the Panama Canal,” presented at the 2015 Florida Conference of Historians

LACC guide

Latin American and Caribbean Collection at UF