Autumn at the Tony Hillerman Portal

Originally published on Celebrating New Mexico Statehood, 8/1/2018
Autumn at the Tony Hillerman Portal hub was a vibrant season full of important and exciting events. The term opened with a new initiative for community outreach intended to boost our curriculum development venture. Our recently-hired fellow, Geneva Becenti, has launched a series of discussions with several school districts in New Mexico, with the intention to create collaborative lesson plans that will incorporate the eHillerman online portal as an educational tool for all grade levels. Geneva, accompanied by two of our experienced fellows, traveled first to Bernalillo (just north of Albuquerque), and then to Tohajiilee (a small town on the Navajo Nation), in order to conduct introductory information sessions with the districts’ boards of educators. We are hoping that these preliminary dialogues will lead to a generative exchange between the portal’s team and a range of school teachers and principals, so that the portal can be utilized to enrich the educational experience of students across the state (and even beyond).

Next, our director, Kevin Comerford, along with the team of graduate fellows, gave a presentation at the annual New Mexico Library Association Conference, which was held this year at the Pyramid Marriott hotel in Albuquerque. The presentation was an opportunity to introduce to professional librarians the procedures involved in collecting, digitizing, and organizing the extensive archival material that the Hillerman family had donated to the UNM library. Furthermore, the team proceeded to demonstrate the process of building and expanding the eHillerman online interactive manuscripts, encyclopedia, and maps. A similar presentation was given at the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference in Santa Fe, this time to an audience of engaged writers and Hillerman enthusiasts.

The DISC (Digital Initiatives and Scholarly Communications) office, which houses our project, had its official open house in mid-October, and the UNM community responded with great interest. Attendance exceeded all expectations: professors, administrators, librarians, and many students stopped by throughout the day to learn more about DISC, eat delicious food, and enjoy collegiate interactions in an informal, warm and festive atmosphere.

Lastly, the fall season brought Anne Hillerman to UNM as the honored guest author of this year’s Rudolfo & Patricia Anaya Lecture Series on the Literature of the Southwest. Anne delivered an intriguing lecture to a full house at the spacious George Pearl Hall, and the eHillerman Portal team got to sit back for a change and enjoy being part of a well-dressed crowd of scholars and community supporters of literature. And now, after our many stimulating events, we are settling back into our normal schedules and the ongoing work of portal development, doing our best to get as much done before our fast-approaching (and much-anticipated) winter break.