July 15, 2019
Henry Widener and Raphael Della Ratta

Henry Widener and Raphael Della Ratta

Sometimes all it takes is for one person to be inspired to make a difference. After reading the Summer 2018 issue of CatholicU magazine, Raphael Della Ratta was inspired by the story, “A Friend of Books.”

“I knew nothing about the library until I saw the feature in the CatholicU magazine. It really struck me as an impressive collection that needed to have the kind of care and attention it deserved,” said Della Ratta. 

A year later, Raphael Della Ratta donated $120,000 to the Oliveira Lima Library to fund a librarian position for two years. 

“I received my master’s at Catholic University in 1994,” said Della Ratta. “I didn’t do any Brazilian or Portuguese studies, and it wasn’t a particular area of interest or focus of mine.”

But, after meeting with Nathalia Henrich, director of the library, Della Ratta discovered the first thing the library needed was a librarian.  

“We’re very happy and grateful for Raphael’s gift. My main goal when I started as the director was to start rebuilding our staff,” said Henrich. 

Henry Widener, the new librarian, started working in June. His background and knowledge of the library has come full circle as his dissertation was on the library. He attended a Symposium at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, organized by Nathalia Henrich, who then became his co-advisor, and the rest is history. 

“I would like to lay the groundwork for this library to be integrated into an international scene,” said Widener. “I recently participated in the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Material conference and you see the convergences of research institutions and the potential for the Oliveira Lima Library as a very active participant. So if nothing else, just to lay the groundwork for that to happen. I’m happy to be a part of this library because it is a treasure.” 

The next steps for the library are to continue preserving and restoring the artwork, cataloging, and researching the collection. As well as finding ways to make the library more accessible, and to continue to market the library as the largest collection of its kind outside of Brazil. Having a librarian is the first step to fulfilling these goals.

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