It's been an invaluable resource since its founding in 1973, but some educators and advocates say that the future of Centro - otherwise known as the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College - is in doubt.
Lillian Jimenez is part of a coalition sounding the alarm about what they has been a decade of disproportionate funding cuts and disinvestment of Centro by CUNY. They are worried that the research institute has operated without a chief librarian for too long.
"That person, that position is critical in guiding the collection of materials, making sure that the books that are coming out are in the library," she said. "So it's really about making sure the center is keeping up."
Jimenez said Centro's archivist will also soon retire dealing another blow to what they say is perhaps the only institution of its kind -- dedicated to the study and analysis of the Puerto Rican experience throughout the diaspora.
"What would be lost would be the possibility of the descendants of Puerto Ricans in New York and in the United States to find a place that can explain to them. 'Who am I?'" said Dr. Johanna Fernandez, an associate professor at Baruch College.
Fernandez said Centro was a vital resource for her book on The Young Lords.
"The only place where there were documents on the organization, its newspapers, but also, the broader history of migration, out of which the young lords emerged, was El Centro," she said.
NY1 reached out to Hunter College for a response to the concerns. A spokesperson sent us a statement saying that Hunter's commitment to El Centro is unwavering, pointing to the recent appointment of an interim director who will help lead an effort to strengthen its collections and "improve archival processes to ensure El Centro continues to fulfill its mission as a public resource for scholars and community members across the New York area and beyond." Hunter also said several searches have been initiated to fill vacancies.
Coalition members said they've heard as much from administrators, but now they're looking for action.
"We're going to be as active as we can educating the community and agitating and advocating," Jimenez said.