Appreciating Dan Hazen

Friday, September 11, 2015


This past spring the research library world lost a great colleague and friend. Dan Hazen, who many of us knew as Harvard University’s AUL for Collections, passed away in June. His loss is deeply felt at CRL and throughout the library community. 

Dan was a giant in the field of area studies collecting and librarianship.  He combined a vast knowledge and appreciation of Latin American history and culture with a passionate commitment to the survival of evidence and documentation. Historians and students of Latin America’s past owe him an immense debt of gratitude.

In his influential 1994 report for the Association of Research Libraries, The Bibliographic Control and Preservation of Latin Americanist Library Resources, Dan took stock of Latin Americana in North American libraries, in the wake of decades of aggressive collecting. He called attention to the richness of Latin American collections in the U.S, which then far surpassed those in the region’s own libraries. At the same time he raised concerns about “the reality of scattered materials, urgently requiring preservation, under varying degrees of bibliographic control.” Dan’s report is remarkable for its early advocacy of digital reformatting as a means of preservation, and his writing is an incomparable blend of astute analysis, precision and grace.

Dan was active in planning the Future of Area Librarianship conference, held the following year at Indiana University, and contributed to the early studies and pilot projects that culminated in the Association of Research Libraries’ Global Resources Program, a major Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding initiative. He served as program officer for that effort between 2002 and 2004. 

Dan was a believer in developing capacity at libraries, archives, and museums in Latin America and the Caribbean. His work with the Program for Latin American Libraries and Archives (PLALA) at Harvard brought new preservation awareness and capabilities to a multitude of the region’s memory institutions.PLALA support made possible the preservation of countless fragile and endangered documents, training in book and paper conservation, and improvement of collection storage conditions. Institutions as far afield as Cuba and Chile benefited from the program.

Some of us at CRL had the privilege of working with Dan. Dan served on CRL’s Board of Directors since 2012, and was elected to a second term earlier this year. But his affiliation with CRL dates back to the beginning of his career as Latin American Studies Librarian at Cornell University in 1977. As Cornell's representative on the Latin American Microform Project (LAMP) then and in the years since, he participated actively in LAMP, and as chair from 1992 to 1998 guided its preservation of critical archives. Dan’s clear thinking and his vision of interlibrary cooperation shaped CRL’s collection development agenda. He participated in the 1999 and 2002 Aberdeen Woods collection development retreats and later served on CRL’s Collections and Services Policy Committee, chairing that group for three years. With Deborah Jakubs, Dan planned and organized the forum “Global Dimensions of Scholarship and Research Libraries” at Duke University in 2012. The report on that forum continues to serve as a blurprint for CRL’s work in area studies collecting. 

He was also instrumental in conceiving and shaping cooperative initiatives like CRL’s digitization of Brazilian government documents and International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON), and advised on the birth of the World Newspaper Archive (WNA).

As a person Dan was a role model and a mentor to a generation of librarians. I remember him as a thoughtful, energetic and generous presence. In 2011 he led a small SSRC project team to Havana, to plan the digitization of early Cuban books in the national library and archives. On our last day in Havana we sat with Dan on concrete seats in a spartanly appointed baseball stadium on the outskirts of the city, to watch the city’s own Metros defeat the visiting team from Guantanamo Bay. It was a memorable experience.

CRL and its community have lost a key contributor to its collective work, and Dan’s presence will be missed. 


Bernard F. Reilly
Center for Research Libraries


Bernie, I am sending you as an attachment a photo from that ballgame. We were there as part of the Social Science Research Center's decade plus effort to assist libraries and archives of Cuba. Dan, Stan Katz, and I were the U.S. Delegates. He is so missed! Anne