Otto G. Richter Library’s Conservation Laboratory

With some of the richest and deepest research collections in South Florida, UM’s Otto G. Richter Library is home to many rare and irreplaceable items that are critical to advancing scholarship. Access to these collections is paramount to the research and learning process for students and scholars. Moreover, the preservation of these donations is imperative to securing the cultural heritage of South Florida and the Caribbean. The UM Libraries Conservation Laboratory allows highly trained professionals to treat fragile documents, books, maps, and photographs using a state-of-the-art facility. This is where science and art combine to ensure that special collections receive the highest level of care; making materials accessible to students and scholars. Investing in preservation affirms the UM Libraries’ commitment to the long-term care of the special collections, material donations, and exhibitions. The Conservation Laboratory presents an extraordinary naming opportunity for those looking to continue advancing future scholars through the conservation of the past. View the video to learn more about the Conservation Laboratory.

To look at some of the images from the Inaugural Conservation Lab event, March 31, 2012, please click here

University of Miami Libraries Conservation Lab from UM Libraries on Vimeo.

Doctoral students can be immersed in Cuban originals thanks to the Goizueta Foundation

The CHC Graduate Fellowships provide assistance to doctoral students who wish to use the research resources available at the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami. The goal of the Graduate Fellowships is to engage emerging scholars with the materials available in the Cuban Heritage Collection and thus contribute to the larger body of scholarship in Cuban, hemispheric, and international studies. The 2012 CHC Graduate Fellowships are generously funded by The Goizueta Foundation and the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection. View the video to learn more about the CHC and the CHC Fellows.

Celebrating the Jewish-Cuban experience

By Amanda Moreno, CHC Projects Assistant and Fernando Espino, CHC Student Assistant

Books pertaining to the Jewish-Cuban experience available at the CHC.

The Jewish community in Cuba traces its history back centuries, stretching as far as the first voyage of Christopher Columbus. Popular legend states that three Jewish sailors were among Columbus’s crew, including Rodrigo de Triana, the first man to spot land on the North American continent. [1] During the colonial period, many Spaniards of Jewish descent immigrated to the island. In the late 19th century and through the 20th century, a number of Jews from Eastern Europe and the Middle East migrated to Cuba and established a permanent presence. In 1906, a group of Cuban Jews founded the island’s first synagogue, the United Hebrew Congregation.

We recently processed the Frederick Solomon Papers, which features the correspondence and writings of Dr. Frederick Solomon, an exiled Jewish rabbi active in Havana during the mid-20th century. Dr. Solomon headed the United Hebrew Congregation at Temple Beth Israel, the island’s first synagogue, located in Havana’s Vedado suburb and home to the Centro Macabeo de Cuba. [2] During his time at Temple Beth Israel, Dr. Solomon continued the tradition of conducting services in English, organizing religious services and authoring sermons for his congregation from 1953 to 1960.

A figure of Miami’s Jewish-Cuban exile community is Bernardo Benes. A lawyer, banker and civic activist, Benes played an integral role in the release of thousands of Cuban political prisoners in the infamous 1978 diálogo (dialogue) with Fidel Castro. [3] In 1991, we acquired the Bernardo Benes Papers, with materials added in 2008. This collection documents Dr. Benes’ personal and professional activities with organizations such as the Cuban Hebrew Circle of Miami and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

For more information including a list of books pertaining to the Jewish-Cuban experience available at the CHC and more images please visit the CHC blog and view the full article post.

And in honor of the High Holy Days: L’Shanah Tovah, and have an easy fast!

Voices of the Diaspora: Israel Bichachi

By Fernando Espino, CHC Student Assistant
– for full post visit the CHC blog

Israel Bichachi, Jewish-Cuban entrepreneur and community leader.Today we highlight a Jewish-Cuban voice that forms part of the Luis J. Botifoll Oral History Project.

Israel Bichachi was born in Placetas, Las Villas on February 17, 1929, into a family of Sephardic Jews from Turkey. Bichachi was brought up speaking Spanish and raised as a Cuban first and foremost. “[In Cuba] you saw a bit of discrimination amongst the young people,” Bichachi explains. “But very little from adults.” While his family was not particularly religious, he remembers the difficulty they faced in finding places of worship, since Cuba had very few synagogues.

When the 1948 Arab-Israeli War broke out, Jews from across the world flocked to defend the young Israeli state. That same year, a young Israel Bichachi eagerly left his home to volunteer in Israel for a few months. “There were Jews from all over the world,” he remembers, speaking of the many volunteer corps he met in Israel. “If you spoke less than five languages, it was considered strange. I would tell people that I only spoke Spanish. Everyone was stunned.”

Bichachi’s return to Cuba was followed by the revolution, and he quickly found himself a target of the new regime. After three stints in a Cuban prison, he and his family knew they would have to go into exile. He spent a year in Israel working in a concrete factory, followed by a few years in New York before finally relocating to Miami. He worked primarily in the garment industry, first as a factory worker, and later as a salesman.

Bichachi would eventually open his own clothing shop, Bichachi Originals in Miami Shores in 1966. He also became a leader in the Jewish-Cuban community in Miami. In 1968, he co-founded Temple Moses, a Sephardic synagogue in Miami Beach, Florida.

Today, less than 2,000 Jews remain in Cuba. Like Bichachi and his family, the majority of this once-thriving community was forced into exile by the Castro regime. His story paints a portrait of the life of a Cuban Jew who, like so many of his countrymen, was forced to make a new life in a new home.

Israel Bichachi was interviewed as part of the Luis J. Botifoll Oral History Project in Miami Beach, FL on October 12, 2011. To learn more, watch Mr. Bichachi tell his life story.

More from the Luis J. Botifoll Oral History Project »

Music Research Guide

Got a music research paper coming up and you don’t know where to start? Take a look at the Music Research Guide. The research guide list important and popular resources for music research, organized by type of resource.There are also links to guides for specific courses as well as for specific types of research, from jazz to music therapy and more.


If you’re teaching a course and you would like a customized guide for your course, please contact us at

Power to the People

Charging stations are now available by the Bestsellers collection on the main floor of the Richter Library.

Charge your laptops, phones, and other electronics.

Keys for the lockers can be checked out for three hours from the main circulation desk.

Notes From The Conservation Lab: Preserving A One-Of-A-Kind Silk Scarf

by Scott Reinke, Preservation Administrator

I am amazed at the variety of unique materials that are housed in the Cuban Heritage Collection. We recently treated a one-of-a-kind silk scarf decorated with a portrait of José Martí. At first glance, the white silk scarf appeared to have an intricate drawing on it, but upon closer observation, the portrait was actually stitched into the delicate fabric using fine silk threads. The level of skill required to execute this work of art truly astounded me.

The scarf first arrived in the conservation lab stored folded in an archival file folder with creases in the fabric. Conservation Assistant Duvy Argandoña and I discussed our course of action before she began the treatment process. We are not textile conservators and so, for example, would not be able to address the visible brown spots on the fabric, known as foxing. But we did want to complete a conservation treatment that would allow for improved storage and accessibility of this beautiful scarf over the long term.

Using deionized water in the humidification dome, we slightly humidified and pressed the scarf between blotters under light pressure to reduce the creases. We then encapsulated it using an ultrasonic welder. This tool is used to create a sealed envelop out of polyester film that in turn protects the delicate fabric during storage and handling. This step is completely reversible so additional treatments can be undertaken in the future. After completing the treatment process, we used the conservation lab’s low magnification stereo-microscope with a 5 megapixel camera attachment to capture close-up images of stitching. Below, you can see the microscope and some of the detailed images it recorded.

After completing the treatment process, we used the conservation lab’s low magnification stereo-microscope with a 5 megapixel camera attachment to capture close-up images of stitching. Below, you can see the microscope and some of the detailed images it captured.

For more images please visit the CHC blog article

Encapsulated print of José Martí, Cuban Print Collection, Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami Libraries, Coral Gables, Florida. Click image to enlarge.


Global Perspectives with Robert Tomes

Global Perspectives with Robert Tomes
The Evolution of Cyber Threats
Monday, September 24, 2012 at 6pm
Newman Alumni Center
6200 San Amaro Drive | Coral Gables, FL | 33146

Join the UM Libraries for the inaugural Global Perspectives Speaker Series with guest speaker Robert R. Tomes. Dr. Tomes is the Director of Tradecraft Advancement at BAE Systems Global Analysis business unit. Among his duties is preparing intelligence analysts to support full spectrum cyber security operations. He has 20 years’ experience working across the national security community in government, industry, think tanks, and nonprofits. He is currently a Director of the Council for Emerging National Security Affairs (CENSA) and the President of the MapStory Foundation. His most recent publication is Hybrid Warfare and Transnational Threats (co-editor, CENSA, 2011).

Please RSVP to

Didier Mutel to Speak at UM Libraries Special Collections

Didier Mutel: Writing with Fire
Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 6pm
Otto G. Richter Library | 8th Floor Special Collections 

Acclaimed French book artist and author Didier Mutel combines his deep knowledge of the craft of printing and engraving and his rebellious, punk-inspired revolutionary personal style to construct and deconstruct what we think of as a book. Working in one of the last surviving 18th century printers’ studios in Paris, Mutel mixes up classical methodologies and new technologies to create works that have both visual elegance and visceral power.  The University of Miami Special Collections has acquired one of the (very) limited edition copies of Mutel’s Forbes Simulacrum, which he defines as “a Danse Macabre for Billionaires,”  a take-off on the traditional Medieval text in which Death visits a variety of recognizable human types.  In his oversized, beautifully executed text, Death will be visiting a variety of billionaires from the Forbes list of richest people in the world.  Come view the book, watch a video of Mutel creating an engraving in the time it takes to hear Sid Vicious’ version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” and hear his fascinating stories about re-envisioning the art of fine printing.

Watch a short video of Didier Mutel creating one of the ten plates that make up his work My Way…each of which was created-from polished plate to the first pull off the press–in the 3.56 minutes it takes Sid Vicious to sing My Way.

Image Courtesy of Didier Mutel

Graduate Research Series

A new round of the Graduate Research Series  2012 will be held this fall at the University of Miami Libraries. This is a golden opportunity to learn how to use better and faster the library resources and services through the session: “Tools for your Trade: An Information Toolkit”. Or how to deal with the research requirements, from information gathering to citation, through the session “Managing Your Research”. For those interested in the insights of the Electronic Thesis and Dissertations the libraries have arranged the session “ETD: Who, What, When, How, Huh?” and, for an elite group of those who think ahead, this series will arm you with the elements you need for academic publishing through “Don’t Perish… Publish!”.

Schedule and Contacts: