Project Team


At the University of Florida’s George A. Smathers Libraries:

Patrick Reakes

Patrick is the Principal Investigator for the FPRDNP. He provides general project direction and serves as liaison with the Library of Congress. ­­­­ He also assists the Project Coordinator with coordinating internal library staff in all other areas of production. Patrick is the Associate Dean of Scholarly Resources and Services at UF. He previously served as Chair of the Humanities & Social Sciences Library, as Chair of the Departmental Libraries and Head of the Neuharth Journalism Library at UF. He holds an MSLS from Florida State University (FSU), a BS in Public Relations from UF, and is a graduate of the General Motors Management Development School. He was also a Fellow in the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Research Library Leadership Program, a highly competitive executive leadership program designed and sponsored by ARL member libraries to facilitate the development of future senior‐level leaders in large research libraries. Prior to coming to UF, he served as a law librarian at Florida Coastal School of Law, where he headed the interlibrary loan department and served as adjunct faculty member. He has also been a reference and instruction librarian at FSU, where he served as the Business Librarian. His current research focus is on the impacts of the evolving digital environment on news research and archiving.


Margarita Vargas-Betancourt

Margarita Vargas-Betancourt is the Co-Principal Investigator for the FRPDNP. She is also the Curator of Latin American and Caribbean Collections at the George A. Smathers Libraries of UF. After obtaining a B.A. in Hispanic Literature and Language from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), she received a fellowship from Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) to pursue graduate school at Tulane University. There she obtained a Ph.D. in Latin American Studies. Her past studies have originated keen interest in the study of colonial Mexico, indigenous cultures, theatre and ritual, and her current job has resulted in interest in the Caribbean, its economic, social, and political history. As the Curator of Latin American and Caribbean Collections at the George A. Smathers Libraries of the University of Florida, Margarita is in charge of processing Latin American manuscripts and of serving as liaison and reference to faculty and students. She is also rolling off as co-chair of the Society of American Archivists’ Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives (LACCHA) Roundtable. In her tenure as LACCHA’s Co-Chair, along with LACCHA colleagues, she developed the webinar series Desmantelando Fronteras/Breaking Down Borders. The series has served to strengthen ties among US, Latin American, and Caribbean archivists.

Melissa Jerome

Melissa is the Project Manager for the Florida & Puerto Rico Digital Newspaper Project (FPRDNP) and is responsible for all the day-to-day activities for the project, which includes all technical and administrative activities related to the digitizing of the selected newspapers, maintaining communication with project partners and vendors, as well as overseeing and assisting with outreach activities and publicity efforts. Melissa received a BA in Criminology and an MS in Pharmacy from UF and is currently pursuing an MS in Information from FSU. She has been employed in the Smathers Libraries for nine years in various departments including Access Support in their Interlibrary Loan and Course Reserves departments and in the Circulation Department as acting supervisor for the overnight hours.



Sarah “Moxy” Moczygemba 

Moxy is the Outreach and Promotion Assistant for the FPRDNP. In addition to managing the project’s social media and blog, she also provides outreach to educators to help them integrate Chronicling America and associated resources into K-12 and university classrooms. Moxy is also a Religious Studies Doctoral Student at the University of Florida in the field of Religion and the Americas. She graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and Religious Studies from Trinity University in 2009 and received her M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Florida in 2013. Currently, she is in the beginning stages of dissertation research, and is exploring transnational religious tourism and ethnic identity by looking at the Silesian Polish Catholic experience in Texas.


At the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras

Myra Torres

Myra is the Project Leader for the FPRDNP at the UPR-RP. She is responsible for coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the project to insure that goals and timelines are met.She also coordinates the Biblioteca Digital Puertorriqueña of the University of Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican Heritage Digital Library of the UPR) and the El Mundo Newspaper Photograph Collection Digitization Project at UPR Library System. Myra has held various administrative positions at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, including: Acting Director and Associate Director of the Library System, Head Librarian of the Music Library, José M. Library and  Library Services for the Handicapped. She served for five years as Consultant for the Puerto Rico Assistive Technology Project of the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. She earned an MLS from the Graduate School of Library Science, UPR‐RP, where she created and has taught the course, Information Services for Handicapped Individuals. Torres Alamo is an active member of the Puerto Rico Librarians Society (PRLS) and served as President of PRLS for the 2002‐2004 term. She was the Coordinator of the Self‐Study Library System’s Steering Committee to assess library services using ACRL Standards (2006-2008). During her professional career, she has participated in numerous institutional committees and work groups: Academic Senate of UPR, Río Piedras Campus, Intellectual Property Committee of the Library System, Faculty Personnel Committee, ACURIL Executive Council, among others. Professor Torres Alamo received the Graduate School of Library and Information Science Award Certificate for Professional Achievement (1999). Some of her academic areas of interest are digital libraries, information technology, intellectual property and copyright, and information services for the disabled population.



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