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Attending Book Fairs: Why it Matters.

My first book buying trip happened without any strategic planning. A friend of a friend had an airline ticket for two people that was about to expire and I jumped at the opportunity to travel to Guadalajara, a city I had never visited in Mexico. Mine would be accommodating expenses at a modest hotel. I had a vague idea about a book fair going on during those dates but not much else. Little did I know that I was about to embark on one of the most transformative experiences any novice Latin American Studies librarian could ask for: attending Guadalajara’s Feria Internacional del Libro (FIL).

Guided by a generous friend, Professor Sarah Poot Herrera, I remember arriving at the entrance of FIL just as the famous Mexican writer Juan Jose Arreola was greeted by locals who had gathered to felicitate him as the winner of the Juan Rulfo Literary Award. Arreola had been my friend’s teacher and mentor. They greeted each other with a warm embrace, Felicidades Maestro, she said and then she introduced me to him. I could not say anything beyond mucho gusto. Later I remember feeling like a character from Arreola’s famous short story that takes a train to an unknown destiny as I entered FIL’s exhibit hall: an unexplored world inhabited books.

The following year I asked my supervisor for permission to attend FIL and purchase a few books. There was so much excitement when she agreed that I had not even contemplated logistics to ship materials back to the Library, so I carried them in my suitcases. The $600 spent would probably have taken twice as much from my constantly diminishing budget. It was during the grim years of the early 1990′s California economy. The FIL trip was one of the few rays of hope I remember from that period.

Since those early FIL days, I have attended other book fairs over the years: Barcelona and Madrid (for LIBER), Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City, Santiago and Brazil’s Bienal do Livro in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.bookfairs2015B

*In Santiago one year Brazil was the featured country and the person in charge of the stand had heard about SALALM from a former colleague in Rio de Janeiro and gave me several publications with little commercial distribution. This has also been the case in both Bogota and Guadalajara with governmental agencies that cannot sell their publications and are pleased to know that libraries in the United States are eager to collect them. Some of them remember me and other library colleagues from year to year.

*As part of the first group of US Librarians sponsored by LIBER in 1999, I discovered a peripheral but vibrant LGBT publishing industry in Madrid that was not being covered by vendors supplying research materials to North American libraries.

*One year Sao Paulo publishers announced a Primavera dos Livros and I convinced colleagues from UCLA and UNC-Chapel Hill to attend. After a long silence from organizers, we found out the event had been cancelled. It was too late to cancel our trip and collectively we organized our very our Spring Book Fair with tips from other colleagues who had visited Brazil.

*In both Lima and Bogota I have visited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) whose ephemeral publications had limited print runs and an equally limited distribution. Even when freely available online, uncertainty about long term availability remained a critical issue. This was the key argument in securing a print copy for our library.

*At several of the book fairs, it was not usual to hear “get it now,” from a publishers and vendors. I was skeptical until I saw at the end of most books that 1,000 was the typical print run and in some cases, even half that much. Indeed, many titles have a limited public life: a book fair, a presentación at a bookstore, perhaps an ad in a cultural magazine and then unsold copies disappear and vendors reply to our constant claims for an unfilled order as descatalogado or agotado, indicating out-of-print. As the price of paper has increased, unsold copies are often shredded and the paper is recycled.

*In Buenos Aires one year several SALALM colleagues visited the Eloisa Cartonera workshop when the hand-made cartonero books were barely in the collecting horizon for academic libraries.arrebato

*At a recent LIBER book fair several librarians visited the Arrebato Libros book shop which specializes in poetry, fanzines and chapbooks, research materials absent from traditional vendor channels. LIBER also has a parallel antiquarian book fair both in Madrid and Barcelona that allows not only for out-of-print searching but also a learning experience to both novice and veteran librarians.

*On-site specialty bookshops (Librería de Mujeres in Buenos Aires) or timely topics (the ongoing polemic for Catalan independence from Spain) provide an oppurtunity for unique collection development.catalancovers

*In the last few years Guadalajara has also hosted La Otra FIL for alternative publishers and the LIA artist book fair, both independent events augment collecting possibilities.

*Our collective presence at book fairs has made it possible to facilitate dialogue with publishers and content providers and influence a digital offer suited to our libraries.

At all of these book fairs, vendors supplying books to our libraries have also been in attendance. Not only do they facilitate shipping of materials, they also learn first-hand what are the shifting scholarly trends.

I have attended presentaciones de libros, participated in local library conferences that have coincided with book fairs and spoken at panel discussions explaining book distribution channels to local vendors. Each of these experiences has been as enriching as that accidental first book fair attendance of 1992.

Adan Griego is Curator for Latin American, Mexican-American and Iberian Collections at the Stanford University Libraries.

History of the Book in Hispanic America, 16th-19th Centuries

California Rare Book School (CalRBS) is pleased to announce that a limited number of scholarship awards are available this year.  A scholarship award covers tuition for one CalRBS course. The recipient is responsible for any other expenses related to the acceptance of the scholarship and attendance at CalRBS. Students who wish to be considered for a scholarship submit a supplemental form, an essay, and a letter of recommendation along with their completed application form. For more information about this scholarship program, please see: http://www.calrbs.org/program/scholarships/

California Rare Book School is a continuing education program dedicated to providing the knowledge and skills required by professionals working in all aspects of the rare book community, and for students interested in entering the field. Founded in 2005, CalRBS is a project of the Department of Information Studies at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. CalRBS is supported by an informal consortium of many of the academic and research libraries and antiquarian booksellers of Southern California.

For more information, course descriptions, and course and scholarship applications, please see: http://www.calrbs.org/

SALALM members may be particularly interested in “History of the Book in Hispanic America, 16th – 19th Centuries,” August 12 – 16, 2013, taught by Daniel J. Slive (Bridwell Library) and David Szewczyk (Philadelphia Rare Books and Manuscripts Company). This course has previously been offered in 2007, 2008, and2012. The course will be based at UCLA.

This course will present a comprehensive introduction to the history of the book in Hispanic America from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries.  The focus will be on colonial period imprints, ca. 1539 through ca. 1830, produced throughout the region.  Topics will include the introduction and dissemination of the printing press; the elements of book production (paper, ink, type, illustrations, bindings); printers and publishers; authors and illustrators; audiences and market; monopolies; and censors, collectors, and libraries.  Additional selected subjects to be discussed include the art of the Spanish American book (including 19th-century lithography), modern private and institutional collectors, and reference sources.  The course will include first-hand examination of materials in class and field trips to UCLA Special Collections, the Huntington Library, and the Getty Research Institute to view additional rare Hispanic American resources.  Intended for special collections librarians, area studies bibliographers, institutional and private collectors, members of the trade, and scholars with an interest in the region, knowledge of Spanish is not necessary.

Professional development: capability, sophistication and productivity

    It’s the beginning of December, the traditional time for the ubiquitous and alliterative review article (“Top Ten Tech Trends of 2012!!!”) that always seem to be slightly too enthusiastic for the pale, twitching, shadow of our former selves that we have become by the end of another crazy year. But even Scrooge (topical seasonal joke high five!) would agree that there is some merit in reflecting, especially when it comes to thinking about learning. So, drawing on the idea of contemplating the old to welcome in the new, I thought I’d try and kickstart 2013 by reflecting on this year’s columns; a meta-column if you will (yep, I haven’t got out much recently…)

    So the last column of 2012 will be on professional development. Now wait. I’m envisaging half of you rolling your eyes because you now have 6,387 unread items in your Google Reader, and the other half of you laughing wryly about how you couldn’t even come to the SALALM conference last year. For those of you in the first group, I’m going to be pretty blunt. I know that life is crazy, that the instruction requests keep piling in, there is another weeding project and you’ve been appointed to a new taskforce. BUT this is the single most important thing that we can do as librarians. Just 10 minutes a day of reading or sharing, or heck, even skimming headlines or your RSS reader. That’s all it takes, I promise. For the second group, most of the ideas here are going to be free or low-cost, they just involve a bit of DIY savvy. Whichever group you’re in, it’s vital that we take time for our own lifelong learning. As John Naughton said, disruption is a feature, not a bug. That stable state of yesterday is never coming back, and lifelong learning is a way that we can enhance and adapt our personal and professional lives to meet whatever challenges are thrown at us.

In October I wrote about MOOCs and the role of librarians. The good news is that if there are hundreds of courses that you too can take for free. Some start on a specific date, others are more self-directed, but all offer traditional introductions to a broad range of topics. Looking to brush up on your Spanish? Try Spanish MOOC, starting in January. Carnegie Mellon offers French, MIT offers foreign language courses and there may be a Portuguese course too.  What about literature and culture? Coursera offers Fiction of Relationship (featuring Borges!) and Listening to World Music, (featuring the Buena Vista Social Club!) among others. There are thousands of technology based courses, from Udacity’s Intro to Statistics, to Udemy’s classes on Facebook, Photoshop or Excel.  Don’t forget the education classes too- try E-learning and digital cultures or Fundamentals of Online Education. More Spanish universities are getting involved too, watch out for offerings from Alicante to La Rioja. There are also several courses out there if you want a more library focused professional development. CPD23 is a UK based initiative that aims to introduce librarians to web 2.0 tools. While the course has finished for 2012, you can still complete the modules at your own pace.

    In June, I tried to reassure you about information overload, highlighting the need to rely more on friends and colleagues as recommender systems. This is known as your personal learning network (PLN), because we learn through forging connections and building networks between people and ideas. I won’t mention my number 1 tool for doing this, because you all laugh at my obsession with my blue avian friend whose name begins with T, but it’s a great way of meeting new people and encountering new ideas. Another option is Google communities, which brings us back to February’s column on Google Plus. Yes, Google + still lags behind Facebook, but Team Google is stealthily making it even easier to follow interests, experts and more, all of which are super valuable for maintaining your PLN. Other tips? Take your time, use the tools that work for you, don’t just follow people because everyone does, use the same username across different tools, share, comment and engage as well as lurking- and don’t forget to challenge yourself to think outside your field, which can resemble an echo chamber at times.

    Lastly, while I believe people are a key part of learning, productivity tools that help you keep track of literature and more keep getting easier to use. August’s column on productivity tools may help you decide which tools to use, as does the CPD23 programme mentioned above. (so much hyperlinked win in this column!) Other tools I really like are Journal TOCS; (they’ve actually gathered hundreds of new journal issue feeds in one place!) and several new mobile apps such as SoundNote (it records audio as well as your notetaking or drawings!) and Zite or Flipboard (create magazines out of your RSS feeds!).

So, professional development. In 2013 it’s all about the people, the free online courses, and the magic 10 minutes a day. I did fail to work April’s column about Impact Factors in. And there were quite a few exclamation marks. Nonetheless, I didn’t try and make some random and arbitrary predictions for 2013, another feature of end of year articles, so count yourself lucky :) Happy Holidays!

 Alison Hicks

University of Colorado, Boulder

alison.hicks @ colorado.edu

Scholarships available for “History of the Book in Hispanic America, 16th-19th Centuries”

The scholarship deadline for the California Rare Books School’s week-long “History of the Book in Hispanic America, 16th-19th Centuries” course, which several SALALM members have attended in the past, is June 15th, 2012.  Read more about it below!

 

History of the Book in Hispanic America, 16th-19th Centuries
August 6 – 10, 2012
California Rare Book School
Los Angeles, CA

Faculty:
Daniel J. Slive (Head of Special Collections, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University)
David Szewczyk (Co-proprietor, Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Company)

Description:

This course will present a comprehensive introduction to the history of the book in Hispanic America from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries.  The focus will be on colonial period imprints, ca. 1539 through ca. 1830, produced throughout the region.  Topics will include the introduction and dissemination of the printing press; the elements of book production (paper, ink, type, illustrations, bindings); printers and publishers; authors and illustrators; audiences and market; monopolies; and censors, collectors, and libraries.  Additional selected subjects to be discussed include the art of the Spanish American book (including 19th-century lithography), modern private and institutional collectors, and reference sources.  The course will include first-hand examination of materials in class and field trips to UCLA Special Collections, the Huntington Library, and the Getty Research Institute to view additional rare Hispanic American resources.  Intended for special collections librarians, area studies bibliographers, institutional and private collectors, members of the trade, and scholars with an interest in the region, knowledge of Spanish is not necessary.

Course readings:

Calvo, Hortensia.  “The Politics of Print:  The Historiography of the Book in Early Spanish America.”  In:  Book History Vol.6 (2003), 277-305.

Johnson, Julie Greer. The Book in the Americas:  The Role of Books and Printing in the Development of Culture and Society in Colonial Latin America.  Providence: John Carter Brown Library, 1988.

Thompson, Lawrence S.  Printing in Colonial Spanish America. Hamden, Conn.:  Archon Books, The Shoe String Press, Inc., 1962.

Additional recommended readings will also be provided.

*

We are pleased to announce that in 2012, California Rare Book School will offer 12 courses on topics of interest to librarians, archivists, scholars, booksellers, collectors, and students. Each course meets from 9-5 pm for one week. Scholarship opportunities are available!

In 2012, the inaugural Samuel H. Kress Foundation-Dr. Franklin D. Murphy Scholarship will be available for art librarians, art historians, and students studying to enter these professions. The scholarship may be used for any course offered by California Rare Book School.  These scholarships will cover full tuition and, for attendees from outside of the Los Angeles area, up to an additional $1,000 for travel expenses. Students who wish to be considered for a Kress-Murphy Scholarship should submit the supplemental form, an essay and a letter of recommendation along with their completed application form.

For more details, course descriptions, and course/scholarship applications please visit:  www.calrbs.org<http://www.calrbs.org/>

If you have additional questions please contact us at: calrbs@gseis.ucla.edu<mailto:calrbs@gseis.ucla.edu>

 

Daniel J. Slive
Perkins School of Theology

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