Program for Latin American Libraries and Archives (PLALA)

After two decades, the Program for Latin American Libraries and Archives (PLALA), based at Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) will conclude its activities. We are most grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its support of PLALA assisting nearly 270 projects to preserve and provide access to unique resources that were deteriorating, endangered, or inaccessible, and in total issuing grants of more than $3.5M.  

We were deeply saddened by the loss of PLALA's director, Dan Hazen, who died suddenly last June.  His work over the last 20 years has made a tremendous difference in the rescue and preservation of historical documents, scientific data, countless scholarly items, and even state secrets.   His leadership as well as that of PLALA's distinguished advisory board facilitated efforts to digitize and share information and published works among libraries and has resulted in advances in many fields of study.   

PLALA's History, 1996-2013

Latin America's rich documentary heritage is crucial for those who would understand the region's history and culture. Yet this heritage is at risk. The region can point with pride to a number of well-organized, fully-supported libraries and archives. In too many cases, however, scarce or unique materials are held by repositories that lack the means either to preserve their holdings or to make them fully available to scholars.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has addressed this dilemma through the "Program for Latin American Libraries and Archives," an initiative from 1996 to 2013 at Harvard University's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. PLALA's purpose is to strengthen the research base for Latin American Studies by means of small grants to Latin American archives and libraries that need special funding in order to improve the conditions under which their collections are kept or to expand access to their research holdings. Grants have been awarded in response to sharply focused formal applications, judged on a competitive basis. Individual grants averaged between US$10,000 and $15,000.

View the PLALA approved projects, 1996-2013

Read an article about PLALA in the Hispanic American Historical Review (2003)