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SALALMistas at the California Rare Book School, August 9-14, 2015

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SALALM members Sarah Buck-Kachaluba (UCSD), Ashley Larson (UCLA), and I participated in the latest offering of the California Rare Book School’s “History of the Book in Hispanic America, 16th-19th Centuries” course. Taught by Daniel J. Slive of Southern Methodist University’s Bridwell Library and David Szewczyk of the Philadelphia Rare Books and Manuscripts Company (PRBM) over the week of August 8 through August 14, it gave us the opportunity to study the cultural, social, and indeed material history of books in Latin America alongside librarians, archivists, and scholars from across the country. The course mixed in-class seminar discussions with field trips to examine selections from the UCLA Special Collections, the Huntington Library, the Getty Research Institute, and a portion of Szewczyk’s own wares, allowing us to get up-close with examples of the illustrating, printing, and binding techniques we studied in class.

The course allowed us to take full advantage of Los Angeles’s wide-ranging scholarly collections. The first day we examined selections of European incunabula from the UCLA Special Collections to help familiarize ourselves with the fifteenth and sixteenth-century printing techniques that informed early Latin American printing. It was also a wonderful chance to get up close and personal with some fantastic materials, including a Gutenberg Bible and Hartmann Schedel’s Liber cronicarum (the famous Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493). The following day we took a field trip to the Huntington Library where we examined Latin American publications from their collections, including multiple works by Archbishop Juan de Zumárraga (who brought the press to Mexico), the famed monk/ethnographer Bernardino de Sahagún, and multilingual works in Spanish, Latin, and various indigenous Mesoamerican languages aimed at fostering the conversion of the indigenous population. Though the museum was closed that day, the trip to the Huntington did leave us some time to explore the grounds and take in the beautiful surroundings.

Perhaps the greatest highlight of the course was Wednesday afternoon, when David Szewczyk let us get hands-on with a suitcase full of books, pamphlets, and broadsides that he brought with him from the PRBM’s offices. David has both a deep scholarly interest in Latin American print and manuscripts and a wealth of lively stories about the book trade that provided us with a vivid picture of the production and circulation of books in colonial Latin America and their collection in subsequent eras. His collection branched out beyond New Spain and Peru to include materials from the Caribbean, Venezuela, and the Southern Cone. We were able to see planning documents from colonial Havana, satirical pamphlets from nineteenth-century Mexico, and broadsides from Venezuela’s struggle for independence from Spain. It was also nice to be able to get our hands on the materials, considering the material nature of the book was one of the focuses of the course. As David said when asked why he trusted us to handle such valuable materials, “we’re all professionals here.”

Thursday gave us our second trip into the UCLA Special Collections, this time to examine their historic Mexican collections. In addition to colonial texts we also got to explore nineteenth-century materials made using what were then state-of-the-art techniques for printing, binding, and illustrating. Highlights included the beautiful full-color chromolithographic title pages and tinted lithographic reproductions of early colonial codices in a three-volume 1844-1846 edition of William H. Prescott’s Historia de la conquista de México, the sumptuous tinted lithograph illustrations of the region around Mexico City in Mexico y sus alrededores (1855-1857), and a collection of children’s books featuring color cover illustrations from José Guadalupe Posada (or at least his firm) published in the Biblioteca del niño mexicano (1899-1900).

For our last day we went to the Getty Research Institute to see their special collections. Their materials included an early (1524) European publication of Cortés’s letters informing King Ferdinand of the conquest of the Aztec Empire, a rare Mozarabic liturgy from eighteenth-century Mexico, and an 1832 edition of Antonio de León y Gama’s 1792 Descripción histórica y cronológica de las dos piedras… featuring one of the earliest print reproductions of the famous Aztec calendar unearthed in Mexico City in 1790. We also had time to enjoy the gardens and to take in two exhibits that were tangentially relevant to the course, one about medieval illuminated manuscripts and the other about printed images of Louis XIV’s France.

IMG_20150814_135601Visiting multiple collections allowed us to view multiple editions or copies of books and to note the differences between them. For example, we saw how the engraved foldout image of the funeral monument described in Alejo de Alvitez’s Puntual descripción, funebre lamento, y sumptuoso túmulo, de la regiadoliente pompa (Lima, 1757) had been produced poorly in the Getty’s copy of the book versus the clean reproduction that made it into the copy Szewczyk had for sale. In addition we got to see up close the details that allow us to identify woodblock, copper plate, or lithographic reproductions of images, discern between type and other means of producing letters, and examine various sorts of bindings, from cheap contemporary loose vellum covers to deluxe gold-embossed Morocco binding from the 19th Century. These experiences will prove invaluable, whether we are helping patrons working with original printed materials or evaluating facsimile or digital reproductions. And of course, we made time to catch up with our SALALM compañeros, touring the HAPI offices and grabbing lunch with Orchid Mazurkiewicz and Daniel Schoorl, and catching up with Jennifer Osorio over drinks and snacks after class. It was a fantastic experience intellectually and socially, and we will take the skills and connections we made with us as we continue our work into the future.

A first-timer’s reflections on SALALM LX

For me, attending SALALM LX was an invaluable professional experience. I was able to get a real sense for how the organization functions, the important work that SALALMistas do, and how I could apply my own skills to contribute to the field in the future.

I attended many of the committee meetings during the initial days of the conference and I found this introduction to be extremely informative. Before attending SALALM, I had only a vague idea of what SALALM members did. I thought the job simply consisted of collecting Spanish-language resources, when in reality it entails a high degree of critical thinking and strategic planning. For example, in the SIS meeting (formerly ISIS), we discussed how materials related to the “15 de Mayo” movement in Spain would soon be in high demand as members of that movement rise to positions of national power and influence. We also discussed possible collaborations with other organizations with similar agendas (Association of Contemporary Iberian Studies) as well as ongoing projects to which and from which SIS could contribute and learn (Spanish Immigrants in the United States). In the LANE meeting, members discussed the BorrowDirect Consortium and their collaborative efforts to collect materials from different regions in Brazil, while LASER members considered their plans to enhance collections of indigenous-language materials between their respective institutions. In the LAMP and LAARP meetings, I heard compelling appeals for funding for a variety of important projects, and it was in these meetings that I grasped the real significance of SALALM-funded initiatives to both current research and the historical record. At the same time, I learned how these committees make difficult but necessary funding decisions. Finally, at the Research and Instruction Services meeting, it was refreshing to hear panel members discuss the future of libraries with particular regard to “internationalization” and creating university courses based on library resources.

The panel sessions proved equally informative. I learned about the new initiatives and directions in Latin American librarianship from a host of participants from all over the world. In many cases, I also witnessed enriching exchanges of ideas as presenters discussed projects undertaken at their respective institutions and received feedback and questions from their peers. It was encouraging to see the high level of interest expressed by panel attendees and it truly felt like a mutually beneficial learning experience for all involved. I was also thrilled to hear the keynote presentation by Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, whose ideas about the symbolic power of libraries tie into my own dissertation research.

Of the numerous advantages of SALALM attendance, the opportunity to meet and learn from other SALALM members surely ranks among the best. I met so many welcoming, knowledgeable, and conscientious people at SALALM LX. In our conversations I learned about the professional responsibilities of Latin American librarianship, potential job openings in the future, as well as how to best position myself as a candidate for those jobs upon completing my Ph.D. and MLIS. I found that I could comfortably approach all SALALM members and everyone was more than happy to talk to me about their jobs and learn about my own training and experiences. I was fortunate enough to talk with some experienced SALALM members in addition to some newer members, both of whom offered different and valuable perspectives on the organization and the field in general. I also met many of the book vendors from Latin America and elsewhere with whom I hope to work someday.

To conclude, I feel very fortunate to have attended SALALM LX. As I near the end of my graduate career and consider the looming job market, it is encouraging to know that an organization like SALALM exists, one in which I can effectively utilize my particular skill set and training in efforts to improve research and access to Latin American resources. After the warm reception and rewarding conversations I had at SALALM, I definitely plan on returning to future conferences and I sincerely hope to one day contribute to the organization as a full-fledged member from a participating institution.

Heard, seen, and learned at my first SALALM Conference

This year I had the privilege of being one of three SALALM Conference Attendance Scholarship recipients to attend SALALM’s 60th conference at Princeton University. There I was exposed to a dynamic and energizing group of engaged professionals who are passionate about what they do. I can only describe this feeling as contagious. This year’s theme, Brazil in the World, the World in Brazil: Research Trends and Library Resources, was a treat for me as a Brazilianist, beginning with the keynote address by Brazilian scholar Lilia Moritz Schwarcz. Similarly, sessions that focused on Brazilian collections and librarianship in Brazil bridged my interests in Brazil as my area of research and my current work as an MLS student and future librarian.


SALALM-sign

The session “Legacy Collections of Brasiliana” was an opportunity to learn about collections in the US and in Brazil and the current challenges and future projects of two important Brasiliana collections, The Oliveira Lima Library at Catholic University and the Biblioteca Brasiliana Mindlin at the Universidade de São Paulo. The panel “Brazilian Culture and Society in North American Library Collections” focused, among other things, on the space that Brazilian collections have within the larger academic library setting. “Building Latin American Collections in the 21st Century: Emerging Trends and Challenges” provided practical approaches and theoretical reflections on the ways in which academic libraries acquire materials. Jennifer Osorio’s talk “Serials Acquisitions in the Digital ‘Future’”: If It’s All Online, What’s the Problem?” posed interesting questions on the publication trends in Latin America and how “lesser known” serials make it (or not) to larger academic libraries in the US.


Panel 24: Brazilian Culture and Society in North American Library Collections

The panels “Digital Curation of Archival and Ephemeral Collections: Enhancing Access and Discovery” and Debra McKern’s presentation “Brazil’s Popular Groups: Acquiring the Gray Literature Collection at the Library of Congress”, as well as the presentation by members of the Library of Congress’ Hispanic Division on web archiving and the digital access to the library’s collections was an excellent opportunity to learn about collections I was not familiar with and the different ways in which librarians collaborate with professionals in information technology to make these collections available to the public. I was particularly intrigued by the interest in ephemera and the way in which these materials are collected in Latin America.

Committee and business meetings were excellent opportunities to learn how an organization like SALALM works. I especially enjoyed the LAMP and LAARP meetings where different librarians presented new or ongoing projects related to preservation and open access.


Special Collections tour with Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez (it was quite entertaining!)

Networking is probably the easiest part to do at SALALM and the “buddy system” was a good way to help students navigate their first conference. I am fortunate to count on several seasoned salalmistas as mentors and friends: Barbara Álvarez, Paloma Celis Carbajal and Adán Griego have been pivotal throughout my academic pursuits offering guidance and sound advice. I look forward to calling them and others my colegas as I join the ranks. On July 27th I will begin an appointment as Reference Librarian in the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress where I hope I can contribute to vitality of our profession and to the future of SALALM.

 
 
 

Talía Guzmán-González

University of Maryland, College Park

My First SALALM Conference

Attending the SALALM conference at Princeton exposed me to current issues facing Latin American librarianship and connected me with a large network of professionals from around the globe. While there, I maintained a busy schedule beginning with the opening session where Lilia Moritz Schwarcz delivered her keynote address. During the rest of my time, I attended two receptions, the book exhibit, a town hall meeting, a rare book and manuscript demonstration at Firestone library, and various panels, which constituted the nuts and bolts of the conference.

Princeton1The panels highlighted several issues, including digital resource access and collaboration, collection development trends, and new research. At one panel, presenters shared current programs aimed at the digitization of primary sources. The British Library, the Oliveira Lima Library, and Brown University all maximize their efforts by collaborating with national and international partners, and by using innovative techniques, like crowdsourcing to provide descriptive metadata. Debra McKern, from the Library of Congress, Rio de Janeiro Office, explicated their methods in acquiring ephemera from Brazil’s popular groups, such as recent World Cup protest flyers. In another panel, Peter Altekrüger explained how the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut manages to maintain their duplicate exchange program with over 500 partners!

 
In a presentation featuring scholars’ perspectives, Stanley J. Stein recounted his first research trip to Brazil and his methodology as he worked with ex-slave informants in the coffee-growing region of Vassouras. At one of the final panels, Ricarda Musser detailed the wealth of information found in German immigration guides to Brazil, and how she is uncovering new research avenues for scholars, while Daniel Schoorl presented literature on Arab ethnicity in Brazil, highlighting key sources, such as early twentieth-century Arabic newspapers.

Princeton3During my spare time, I connected with fellow attendees. I lunched with other library science students at Tico’s Juice Bar in downtown Princeton where we discussed our favorite panels and shared our professional endeavors. On another occasion, I savored a cool beverage at Small World Coffee alongside current SALALM librarians who traded stories about their job experiences, past and present. And as a first-time visitor, I enjoyed exploring or, rather, getting lost on Princeton’s beautiful campus. Princeton’s reception at the Prospect House, once home to President Woodrow Wilson, featured delicious food and beverage offerings. Along with a friend, I explored the house’s numerous rooms and countless portraits. The Libreros’ Reception the following evening took place in a grand hall where the music, dancing, and new friends made for a memorable experience.

I sincerely thank SALALM for the opportunity to attend this year’s conference. I would also like to send a special thank you to Paula Covington, who encouraged my scholarship application and who continues to serve as a dedicated mentor. A warm thank you also goes to Ruby Gutierrez and AJ Johnson, who imparted some great conference tips and advice! I look forward to continuing my pursuit of academic librarianship with a focus on Latin America, continuing my growth as a scholar of library studies, and taking part in future SALALM activities.

Ashley Larson
University of California, Los Angeles

Book Hunting in Lima.

The couple next to me cannot contain their enthusiasm: Chile’s has won the Copa America. “I also had to watch the game in English,” says the LAN flight attendant, equally excited. I don’t want to ruin their festive moment with a comment on the dark history of the national stadium where the game was played, also used as mass detention center in the early days of the Pinochet dicatatorship.

Instead, I tell them I saw the results online while preparing for a trip to Lima’s Peru Service Summit that would match local publishers and software developers (among others) to meet with potential compradores. It’s not the first time that librarians have been labeled as buyers, as much as we would like to be known as agentes culturales, or profesionales de la informacion, maybe even intermediarios del conocimiento.

It’s been more than ten years since my last visit to Lima, which now-a-days seems to be a top culinary destination, according reports as varied as a business daily, and even a men’s magazine.

The morning will start in the Miraflores section of the Peruvian capital with a tour by a local limeña. She understands my bibliographic obsessions. The first visit will be to Promsex: Centro de Promocion y Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos, a well-established NGO that has issued several reports on women’s reproductive rights and LGBT issues. Their publications are now fully available online and are deposited at the country’s national library, much like any other local print publication with an ISBN. The limited print run of 500 copies is also distributed throughout the country, reaching those areas with limited internet access. We meet one of the group’s leaders who shares our concern for documenting the history of LGBT groups and other like entities.

virreybookstoreThe next stop will be the iconic El Virrey bookshop. My friend asks about some recent publications: Crónicas de la diversidad and Dulce Fanzin. The sales clerk recognized the first one, but the other one appears to have a somewhat erratic distribution, although it’s already been noted by other online publications. He directs us to La Libre, a book shop at Barranco, on the other side of town. Not wanting to wear out my host, I opt to come back later. I can spend hours on end, but there are more pressing matters, like a much deserved lunch break.

In search of a well-known restaurant, which is closed on Mondays, of course, we opted for another one across the street. There were only two tables left so the food must be good. The traditional lomo saltado, even with my dislike for onions, turned out to be as tasty as the one prepared by a good Peruvian friend back in California, “with the secret sazón of my grandmother,” she always noted.

The recent New York Times 36 hours travel section includes Barranco as one of the must-visit sections of Lima. We arrive one day too late, the independent presses have just had their first book fair and the bookshop we are searching for is closed on Mondays! What are we to do? Un buen cafecito…of course!

My friend suggests a traditional Barranco locale, where I ask for a café con leche. The owner says they don’t serve such a thing, nada mas café solo, he clariefies! That other one can be found by the opposite side of the park, without naming the well-known American chain with an “S.” Not my idea to savor something local, but we find a most unexpected place at an old train car converted into a coffee shop/restaurant where they do have café con leche.

The afternoon will end with a visit to Librería Inestable, already highlighted by Spain’s daily El País. I select several poetry chapbooks, some of which are missing a price. Since the owner is out of town, I will have to return a few days later.

latiendaBarrancoFor the next book hunting recorrido there will be three of us, Teresa Chapa (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Phil MacLeod (Emory), starting at Sur. We probably drove the sales clerk crazy with so many questions. The young man answered politely and patiently before we left, each with at least a book bag.

From there it would be to Barranco again, and La Libre has just opened for business. We spoke each other’s language…ours was probably their best sale ever. Hopefully it helped make up for the loss from a break-in of a few weeks earlier.

A Lima visit could not be complete without cebiche, and that was our next stop: Canta Rana just around the corner. Some local friends had other suggestions but that day we were lucky that Phil Macleod went ahead of us to get a table because there was already a growing line to find a seat. Even our lunch hour could not be complete without some book business. We were joined by the publisher of Paracaídas Editores. He was probably not expecting to sell all his books in one seating! Thanks to fellow SALALM member José Ignacio Padilla for the contact.

We are already running late for our next appointment on the other side of town at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos where fellow SALALM librarian Virginia García is awaiting us. They also have a bookshop! From there, the taxi will bring us back to Miraflores to Contracultura, a graphic novel paradise where we will add more book bags. It’s past 7pm and the traffic is already heavy, if not would have visited one more shop before calling it a day.

peru-service-summit-2015Tomorrow is the start of two intense days of meetings with publishers at the Peru Service Summit. There will be the usual question about buying directly from a publisher and our explanation on the added services that a distributor can provide. Of course, there are always discoveries, like another independent press, with a most suggestive name Animal de invierno…or the press with profusely illustrated texts that are more than just another coffee table book.

Before embarking on the long flight back to California, there would be one more stop at our distributor’s office to review books not sent via our approval plan and check on new publishers discovered through a few days of book hunting in Lima. Both Teresa Chapa and Phil MacLeod will stay longer and visited a book shop recommended by Virgina at the Instituo de Estudios Peruanos. Communitas was not too far from our hotel and they both went on the day I was heading to the airport through an unending sea of Friday afternoon traffic. I am sure they will report on their treasure hunt!

Adan Griego
Stanford University Libraries.

SALALM 60-My experience

As a first time attendee and recipient of the Conference Attendance Scholarship, I was not sure what to expect at the 60th SALALM conference at Princeton University. I arrived with vague expectations of meeting new people and learning more about academic librarianship, but I fortunately left Princeton with such a richer experience than I expected. At SALALM, I found a community of librarians with a wide array of interests and experience, yet similar passion and drive to support research interests on Latin America both within the region and in the United States. For me, the highlight of the conference was simply learning from and interacting with such a rich group of individuals. In addition to networking with seasoned SALALMistas, I greatly enjoyed meeting other MLS students from around the country and discussing our research interests, academic programs, and backgrounds.Princeton

Moreover, the numerous conference panels expanded my perspective on academic librarianship and they also inspired me to think about different issues in innovative ways. For example, I particularly enjoyed Alison Hicks’ presentation entitled “Pedagogy for the Oppressed? The Question of LibGuides.” In her talk, she critiqued how LibGuides privilege certain sorts of information and present resources as “nuggets of truth” without provoking students to questions the materials and methods. Hicks’ presentation helped me to see both LibGuides and librarians in a new light. I also attended the Roda Viva on Monday afternoon and the quick, interesting talks infused me with great ideas and inspirations. Lisa Gardinier’s presentation on zines in Latin America was excellent! I really admire her dedication to collecting and archiving different forms of knowledge and art from Latin America. Jesús Alonso-Regalado also gave a fun talk on how crowdfunded materials, like the book Invisible Immigrants, can enrich unique university collections.

Another highlight of the conference was the opportunity to see documents from Princeton’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez gave an excellent presentation of the materials and it was wonderful to see his enthusiasm for the items. My personal favorite was a letter from Gabriel García Márquez to Mario Vargas Llosa giving him advice and encouragement. Additionally, this visit was my first time to Princeton and I enjoyed simply walking through the beautiful campus and observing the buildings.

To conclude, I want to thank the SALALM community for the opportunity to attend the conference and for the welcoming reception I received. The conference opened my eyes to new opportunities and it also confirmed my desire to work in academic libraries. As I finish my MLS and my MA in Latin American Studies at Indiana University, I plan to pursue a career in academic librarianship with a focus on bibliographic instruction and information literacy. I hope to continue engaging with SALALM and I plan to attend next year’s conference at the University of Virginia!

-Laura Geiken

Apology

There has recently been an unfortunate posting on the Lala-L listserv. We apologize for this posting. SALALM has been working for 60 years to bring together information professionals and to create a welcoming and inclusive space for voices from all over the world. This email was not appropriate for a professional forum and we would like to apologize for any offense that was caused.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  Please remember that SALALM doors are always open to comments and members with concerns can approach an officer from the Executive Board at any time.

Sign up for a conference buddy!

Dear newer SALALMeros/istas,

We are happy to announce the availability of SALALM conference buddies! This is a low-commitment way of getting your feet wet in the organization and learning the ins and outs of our annual conference. All are welcome to sign up at the link below even if this isn’t your first time attending, and you’ll hear from your buddy later this month.

Which committees are best for you? When is the best time to arrive to get the full value out of the conference? What specific opportunities are there to further your own professional development? A seasoned member of SALALM can help answer those questions and introduce you to other members.

Sign up for a conference buddy here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0a4baaa828aaff2-conference

Many thanks to Jade Mishler, Wendy Pederson, Ryan Lynch, Sócrates Silva and Barbara Alvarez for being involved in the planning of this new initiative and for all of the volunteer buddies!

Reporting from the Bogota Book Fair

poster-promocional-de-la-28a-feria-internacional-del-libro-de-bogotá-suministrado-por-corferiasMacondo, that mythical place created by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and to which all of Latin America can claim as its own, was the invitado de honor at this year’s FilBo or the 28th International Bogota Book Fair.

One of the Fair’s peculiarities is that several publishers have a stand in more than one pabellón, at times confusing but often useful as items on display suit the intended audience (infantil, universidades, etc).

Overrun by teenagers and housing comic books and alternative graphic designers, Pabellón 1 seemed the place to be. Not sure if it was intentional but the religious publisher Ediciones Paulinas had a stand there as well, something worthy of magical Garcia Marquez capricho! Gabo himself would probably have responded to an upset visitor who noted: “that book is obscene,” referring to a hand-made/fanzine-like booklet with some erotic photos: algunos libros no pecan, pero incomodan.

Pabellón 3 housed not only university presses, independent publishers and some government agencies whose publications are not available for commercial distribution (Instituto Humboldt, Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica) and the word library/librarian was key in getting a copy. For a country hoping to bring an end to decades of violence, the Unidad para la Atención y Reparación Integral a las Víctimas provided examples of tangible work in that healing process.

A year after his death, Garcia Marquez was present all over Filbo, beyond the special Macondo pabellón that hosted an exhibit of first editions of his works, panel discussions and a reading of the first chapter of One Hundred Years of Solitude. One of the panels included SALALM’s own José Montelongo discussing Gabo’s literary archives at the University of Texas.

salamistasFilbo2015The group of U.S. librarians hosted by FilBo could not be in better magical company as we made our way through the various pabellones.

While it may have sounded like a touch of magical realism, unfortunaley press reports noted that a first edition of Gabo’s best known works had been stolen from the special exhibit.

Adan Griego, Curator for Latin American Collections-Stanford University Libraries.

Letter from the Rio de la Plata*

mvd2015photoFor most North American academic libraries Cuban books have taken a detour to Uruguay before arriving at our shelves. With changing relations between the United States and Cuba, there is already renewed scholarly interest in the Caribbean island. Hence a visit to the Montevideo bookshop where much of that research material is being sorted. Two days was barely sufficient to review missing titles from our collection. In the process, finding equally interesting research materials from other parts of Latin America.
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The ferry across the Rio de la Plata was to take only two-hours, in the state of the art Papa Francisco Buquebus, prompting my Montevideo friends to call it a viaje santo. It was much longer and I missed a visit to the San Telmo open air market in Buenos Aires, where every visitor to the Argentine capital appears to end up on a late Sunday morning. Several years ago I found a vintage photo of 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

The hotel is a few blocks away from that book corridor on Avenida Corrientes, between the Obelisk and Callao street, proof of what some press reports have noted : Buenos Aires has the highest person to bookstore ratio in the world.
What better way to spend a late autumnal afternoon than book-browsing. Last year, one of the first ones I saw was a book written by a friend. I could not bring myself to tell him it was on sale!

Even some of the side streets house book shops. The one-block Paseo Rivarola probably goes unnoticed by most visitors to Buenos Aires. In one of those symmetrical 1920 buildings is the Librería de Mujeres. I ring the doorbell and an older lady unlocks the door, immediately asking: Qué busca? I tell her I want to see everything. Still not quite convinced that a middle-aged man would find something of interest, she points to a few sections and off I go in my incessant note-taking of interesting book titles, until I realize I could take photos of several book covers at once and not have to worry about deciphering my less and less understandable handwriting.
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The 41st Buenos Aires International Book Fair opens today and there is a sense of anticipation among the group of U.S. librarians attending this year. Prior to departing we received an avalanche of requests from publishers asking for a meeting. I opted to invite them to attend a session where we would explain the dynamics of book distribution and acquisition by public and academic libraries. They listened attentively to our presentation.

ba2015indipubsLarge media groups command the most visible of the various pabellones, typical of any such event. But independent publishing seems to be alive and thriving in the Southern Cone (Todo libro [no] es politico; Sólidos Platónicos and Siete logos). It appears to be the same in Spain.

At a time when print publications struggle to stay afloat, it’s almost anachronistic to have a new cultural magazine aimed at the inmesa minoría, as the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset would note. The recently launched Review: Revista de Libros, a Spanish translation of the New York Review of Books with original content in Spanish. The publisher says the premier issue has a print run of 15,000 copies and is selling well, even outside of Buenos Aires. During my long overnight trip back to the Northern hemisphere, while crossing the Equator, I will read a Spanish-version of Alma Guillermo Prieto’s piece on the disappeared Mexican student-teachers.

Waiting for the last connection of my flight to California I find one of the newspaper articles I saved from Argentine dailies: poetry appears to have as many readers as militants. Viva la poesía. Viva la Lectura. Vivan los Libros!

Adán Griego-Curator for Latin American Collections, Stanford University.

*Trip partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI and the Buenos Aires Book Fair.

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