It was only fitting that over 30 SALALM librarians (and vendors) would be among the many profesionales del libro participating in what has become the most important book event in the Spanish-speaking world: the 30th Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL).
While welcoming speeches at FIL’s opening ceremony were taking place, I visited Mexico’s Ministry of Education stand where one of the staff reiterated that textbooks currently in use in the country’s primary schools were available to libraries from Mexican consular offices in the United States. Some are quite popular at our Education Library. The most recent editions now include the iconic image I remember from my first grade class in a rural school in Northern Mexico.
A few days later, at a lunch with several local colleagues, I shared my hope that libraries and books would become a more constant presence in the everyday life of the country’s school-age children, more than they were for me 50 years earlier. Mexico continues to lag behind other Latin American countries on the number of books an average citizen reads per year. A recent news article notes a similar deficiency: 92% of Mexico’s municipalities have a library, but many are in poor condition.
Only a few steps away I found a young adult book on Friday Kahlo I had seen at LIBER-Barcelona a few week earlier, certainly of interest to general and scholarly audiences. In fact, there is quite a variety of original children’s literature in Spanish from publishers like CIDCLI, Tecolote or Ekaré for a project worthy of our academic libraries: collecting a representative sample of this vibrant publishing output.
I always look forward to the Artes de México stand for a colorful display of original arts and crafts adorning its well-known bilingual monographic issues (on food, religion, art, etc.) and this year it did not disappoint: a life size model of two luchadores to showcase its recent books on wrestling was very popular. I first encountered lucha libre at a relative’s home in the neighboring town where I grew up. The small black and white screen would become alive when a man with a bow tie announced: “en esta esquina…” The good guys were Santo, Blue Demon, Mil Máscaras and Huracán Ramírez, battling long-haired malevolent-looking characters. Another set worthy of public and academic library collections.
Although the book fair brings many popular titles, there is also plenty of scholarly material. One of this year’s many novedades was the facsimile reprint of Machete, the short lived publication of Mexico’s Communist Party from the early 1980s, complemented by free publications from the the national election commission or the Jalisco electoral institute. I almost missed the print report on the 2014 Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College massacre, also freely available, at the collective stand of the Jesuit institutions in Mexico
The International pavilion has expanded and included the Área de Libro Electrónico with presentations on recent e-book developments. There were also publisher associations (cámaras/gremios) from Latin America and Spain. For me the most exciting aisle was “JJ,” covering LGBT, poetry, or hand made books.
FIL offers competing events, both onsite and at various venues throughout the city: book launching ceremonies, live performances, films, museum exhibits and conferences like the Coloquio Internacional de Bibliotecarios. This year some SALALM members participated with very well received presentations (yes, I heard it from multiple sources). And, if anyone ever wanted proof of other activities behind the scenes, just ask Wisconsin’s Latin American librarian about packing over a dozen boxes of books! Jesús Alonso Regalado (pictured above at UNAM’s stand) has also documented his detailed FIL experience purchasing-packing-shipping materials.
It’s common practice at book fairs to have a “guest of honor” (a country, or a city). This year it was Latin America and Madrid will be featured for 2017, just in case you want to plan ahead.
As the popular tango notes, “…20 años no es nada…” so too, we can say about FIL “…30 años no es nada…” with best wishes for many more years.
1) Jesús Alonso Regalado-University at Albany, SUNY.
2) Perez, Sébastien & Benjamin Lacombe. Frida. Madrid: Edelvives, 2016.
3) Lucha Libre-Artes de México photo by Marisol Ramos, University of Connecticut.
4) Paloma Celis Carbajal and Nora Díaz. University of Wisconsin-Madison.
5) FIL image
Adan Griego, Curator for Latin American, Mexican American and Iberian Collections.
Stanford University Libraries.