Monday October 20th 2014

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The Latin American Studies Association Comes to San Francsico

My first LASA conference was in September 1992 in Los Angeles and 20 years later the Latin American Studies Association came back to the Golden State. With over 5,000 attendees, the City by the Bay was to receive a good financial stimulus. These are, after all, tough times for California, where a tax increase is in the ballot for the June 4th primary election.

When news broke that Fidel Castro’s niece (Mariela) had received a visa to speak at the LASA conference, the group’s name was all over, even before anyone had set foot in San Francisco. A sample of media coverage before; during; and after; was a reminder of how the Caribbean island continues to “suscitar opiniones tan encontradas,” as heard at the hotel lobby.


SALALM had a small, but busy group (over 20 librarians and 3 vendors).

On the eve of the Conference’s opening Paloma Celis Carbajal (Wisconsin-Madison) and Teresa Chapa (UNC-Chapel Hill) were at the Libros Latinos warehouse searching away. They were joined by SALAMistas from Columbia, Emory, Iowa, Princeton, and Texas over the next few days as they all looked for those rare/unique items to enhance their library collections.

The enthusiastic group even came down to Stanford, where they visited our library’s Calligraphic Artist book exhibit and a last minute display of treasures from the Hoover Institution Archives next door.

The program had almost 1000 panels; tightly spread over 3 days, with SALALM librarians among the many panelists (the Library of Congress offered a workshop on how to integrate its many resources into teaching). In addition to the almost non-stop presentations, there was the now traditional Film Festival and the book exhibit (with Iberoamericana, Latin American Book Source and Libros Latinos present).

The exhibit hall had not only US-based publishers but also those from as far as Chile (Cuarto Propio) and even closer shores (El Colegio de Mexico and The Red Nacional Al Texto). At a time when eBooks are the constant topic of conversation in the profession, the bulk of the exhibit was paper-based. Probably the few exceptions being GALE CENGAGE (wondering where, were the librarians who had not yet purchased their) World Scholar: Latin America & the Caribbean; the HAPI-Hispanic American Periodicals Index; and Project Muse, which showcased its recent ebook package of university press titles. The HAPI booth also served as a gathering point for SALAMistas more than once.

The last day of the conference hosted the much awaited book sale at 50% for most titles. I had wanted to buy an art book earlier and the vendor reminded me of the discount “with better deals, as the closing hour approaches.”

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