Monday October 16th 2017

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Book Report from the Southern Cone: Santiago and Buenos Aires

The long flight to the other side of the hemisphere had a Southern Cone touch with two award-winning films by Chilean director Pablo Larraín: ‘Jackie’ and ‘Neruda’ along with ‘Cien años de perdón,’ an Argentine-Spanish co-production.

After almost a five-year absence, this will be a 48-hour stay in Santiago. Although unplanned, the visit coincided with a small book fair, accompanied by a book festival with local bookshops staying open late. Similar events were also taking place in Lima and Madrid, all as part of the Día Internacional del Libro.

Located only two blocks away from my hotel, Metales Pesados is perhaps the best book shop in Chile, with co-owner and poet Sergio Parra, impeccably dressed in black, always ready to answer any inquiry about art and literature. This morning he is hosting some Colombian visitors but recognizes familiar faces from the United States already browsing at one end of the store. Later that day I will stop by to donate several copies of my New York Times Book Review, the ones I don’t get a chance to read and I carry on long flights hoping to catch-up. I can never bring myself to discard  them, always looking for an avid reader who will accept the weekly publication. This rainy Autumn day I have found such a character.

The shop carries both a broad selection of the country’s scholarly and independent publishing output and world art and literarure in translation. Today they are out of a title I saw at New York’s Latin American Studies Association (LASA) conference and I get a referral to the neighboring book store Prólogo, a block away.  The same street also houses La Tienda Nacional and a smaller outlet with several graphic novels, both local and in translation…then there is Ulises only two blocks away. But that would be after a visit to the museum nearby.

The late 19th century Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is one of the oldest cultural institutions in South America. Unfortunately today it’s closed for renovations and so is the book shop. But  the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, on the opposite end of the building, is showcasing an exhibit of late 20th Century Chilean art, Coleccion Mac: Post 90. One of the pieces on display Estudio para torrente altamente erótico is by José Pedro Godoy. A controversial exhibit of Godoy’s art a few weeks earlier had a piece stolen that was eventually recovered.

***

No longer raining, the second day will start with our local distributor and I visiting the Plaza de Armas (Main Square) in downtown Santiago for theopen air book fair, supplementing the previous day’s scholarly-heavy book outing. After lunch, it will be a visit to the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, named for Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. It houses a bookstore among its many visual and performing arts venues. Today there is small lending library in the adjoining plaza between buildings with users encouraged to exchange books.

A last minute stop at Librería Ulises will round-up the visit to Santiago that was coming to end sooner than expected. Now it was time to (re)arrange luggage to accommodate several heavy books.

***
The two-hour Air Canada flight to Buenos Aires appears to be popular with porteños for a quick shopping weekend excursion to acquire goods less expensive than in Argentina. I was probably one of the few non-Mercosur passengers.

The Argentine capital hosted its own Noche de Librerías earlier in March and was now preparing for the 43rd Buenos Aires Book Fair, one of the oldest book events in the Spanish-speaking world. The city has been noted as the “book capital of the world,” with Avenida Corrientes (only three blocks from my hotel) home to several of those bookstores. As if there weren’t enough such cultural outlets, Avenida Santa Fe, not far away, has a new one. Plenty of places to spend the next four days book-hunting.

***
On a late Sunday morning most visitors to the Argentine capital visit the San Telmo open-air market. This bright sunny day seems to have attracted a large portion of Brazilian tourists in Buenos Aires. Arts and crafts, food, antiques, old photos and books, stamps, money bills, jewlry and all sorts of collectibles along with plenty of tango music and dancers can be found all over. Interestingly, in the 20 years I’ve coming here I had never noticed images of same-sex tango dancers (both men and women), this time both in filoteado art and photographs. Perhaps reflecting the recent Queer Tango movement.

The long walk was enough to work out an appetite long before the traditionally late lunch (and dinner) Argentina shares with Spain. On a previous visit I was invited to join a group hosting the president of the American Library Association for dinner (at 7pm). Later, his wife wondered why the locals had hardly eaten. Could it had been the high price? She wondered. A fellow California colleague and I would eat a salad at our usual dinner time (6pm) before joining porteños for a 9pm dinner.

Sunday’s are traditionally a family day and I often go to the movies, but this time I have arranged to meet a retired journalist friend. Where else? The coffee shop at the Centro de la Cooperación Cultural, which also happens to have a bookstore. A good excuse to arrive early and take notes/photos of the books/magazines not yet in our library collection. The next two hours would be a lively conversation on local socio-political issues, publishing, literature, books (print and digital). Then came the question about the United States presidential election outcome! But it was closing time at the Cooperación.

***
SALALM librarians had one more day before the Book Fair’s opening day. The Librería de Mujeres and Librería de la imagen, on the same street not far from the hotel, were a logical starting point. At both places we had to ring the door bell to be allowed inside. Initially, the staff seemed less than friendly at our group, turning immediately to the book’s bibliographic details and asking about removing the plastic wraps or asking to open the vitrine to see more expensive/limited edition books. In the end, they warmed-up to us after it became clear we were going to buy something!

After lunch it was a good time to run across Avenida 9 de Julio, right by the iconic Obelisk. I’ve never been able to cross all 14 lanes with one green light. The excursion was to the Centro Cultural Borges to visit a bookshop that had been closed the previous day. After buying a book on peronismo posters I hurried back to the hotel when I  wanted to take pictures of other interesting book covers and realized my Iphone was missing. I had left it in the room…what a relief!

***
The day we had all been awaiting was here. Los Angeles was the Ciudad invitada (Guest City), and the U.S. Embassy generously provided a shuttle to transport ten librarians from the United States on a book-buying trip as part of the many activities it was sponsoring for the event.  The next three weeks would book readings, music, and art showcasing LA culture. 

Clouds pointed to an approaching storm that arrived once we were inside La Rural Fair Grounds, a good reason to stay indoors all day and wonder from pabellón to pabellón (red, blue, yellow and green), if only the carpet’s color could point to where we were.

To close the Fair’s first day, our  group  visited a public library where we took refuge from the rain and enjoyed meeting local colleagues. Empanadas with a nice glass of Argentine wine was a great way to end the day. The Embassy’s shuttle provided a much-welcome ride back to the hotel on a rainy evening.

***
The next three professional days afforded the many book professionals uninterrupted time to become acquainted with a wide variety of books and publishers. At the combined stand of Argentine University Presses it was certain to meet a fellow SALALM colleague. In an apparent effort to highlight its return on investment, the stand displayed a big sing that read: “academic books represents 7% of Argentine publishing.” Still other librarians could be found at the Frente Latinoamericano Editorial, new this year. Independent publishers like La Sensación, Siete Logos and Todo libro es político (where I joked with one the staff asking  if having a beard was a prerequisite to work there)  were a good complement to scholarly titles from Prometeo, Biblos, Corregidor, Siglo XXI, Capital Intelectual and the Fondo de Cultura Económica. The latter confuses the country-based approval plans from many of our libraries as it publishes in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Spain.

For several years now, the Book Fair haa also hosted a series of related events during the professional days: for translators, academic publishers, children’s book illustrators and librarians. This year libraries will  play a key role beyond the professional days. The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) was the official representative from California’s largest and diverse city. LA in BA showcased a library maker-space at the joint booth with the United States Embassy and LAPL members would be staffing the booth during the times the fair is open to the public.

I was probably boarding my flight back to California as local author Luisa Valenzuela delivered the keynote speech (video, text) at the opening ceremony. Her key words: Freedom, Empathy, Education, Inclusion are also ones that resonate with libraries on this side of the Equator.

Notes:
*See Facebook photo album with book covers on various subjects.

*The acquisitions trip was supported in part by Stanford’s Center for Latin American Studies, Stanford Libraries and the Buenos Aires Book Fair.

*Images: Feria del Libro Plaza de Armas, Feria Internacional del Libro de Buenos Aires, John Szabo (LAinBA).

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

Meet the 2017 SALALM Conference Scholarship Winners: Mark Sandoval

Mark Sandoval

Mark Sandoval is completing his Master of Arts in Library and Information Science from the University of Arizona. As a member of Knowledge River, he is committed to serving and advocating for the information needs of Latino, Native American, and other minority groups.

Mark is from Lebanon, TN, and graduated in May 2016 from Centre College in Danville, KY, with a B.A. in anthropology/sociology and a minor in Spanish. He studied at the Universidad Marista de Mérida in Mexico for one semester in 2015 and took a month-long course in Argentina in 2016. He served on Centre College’s Library Advisory Committee throughout his undergraduate years.

He has been working as a graduate assistant at the University of Arizona Special Collections Library since August 2016. He has processed a collection on the vaudevillian and composer Joseph E. Howard; completed some research for the current exhibit, Visions of the Borderlands: Myths and Realities; and has worked on digitizing a photograph collection. He has also volunteered at the Nashville Public Library.

He is still deciding whether to pursue a career in special collections or in public libraries.

Meet the 2017 SALALM Conference Scholarship Winners: María Victoria Fernández

María Victoria Fernández

María Victoria Fernández is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin completing a dual-master’s degree in Latin American Studies and Information Studies. She is interested in archives and special collections librarianship with a focus on Latin American cultural heritage materials and is currently working at the Benson Latin American Collection as a Digital Scholarship Graduate Research Assistant. María Victoria is specifically working on the Reading the First Books: Multilingual, Early-Modern OCR for Primeros Libros project, an NEH-funded digital humanities initiative developing computational tools for the automatic transcription of books printed in the Spanish Americas before 1601 found in the Primeros Libros de las Américas collection. Through her work on this project, she has merged her academic interests in history of the book, digital humanities, sixteenth-century Latin American history, and indigenous studies.

Prior to this position, María Victoria was a Reference Services Graduate Research Assistant at the Harry Ransom Center and completed an internship in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division of the Benson Latin American Collection as an SAA/ARL Mosaic Fellow. She has also interned at the Library of Congress Hispanic Division as an editorial assistant for the Handbook of Latin American Studies.

María Victoria holds a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Latin American Studies from Dartmouth College. During her time at Dartmouth, she worked at Rauner Special Collections Library as an archives student assistant and Edward Connery Lathem ’51 Special Collections Fellow, processing archival collections, conducting a born-digital materials survey, and assisting the library’s education and outreach program design and facilitate undergraduate class sessions.

Meet the 2017 SALALM Conference Scholarship Winners: Itza Carbajal

Itza Carbajal

Itza Alejandra Carbajal is the daughter of Honduran parents, a native of New Orleans, and a child of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Her roots begin three generations ago when one of her great grandfathers landed in the port city of New Orleans from France. He then travel by sea to Honduras, a country in Central America. There her paternal grandmother would be born. She would become a school teacher, a mayor, and a mother of four. On the other side of the border in the early 20th century, her maternal grandfather escaped military repressions in El Salvador. He would eventually meet Itza’s maternal grandmother and give birth to eight children including her mother.

Itza by chance came to life in New Orleans and never claimed another place as home until 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck. She left her city by force and has resided in Texas ever since. Now she lives in Austin, Texas currently pursuing a Master of Science in Information Studies with a focus on archival science and digital records at the University of Texas at Austin School of Information. She obtained a dual-degree Bachelor of Arts in History and English with a concentration on creative writing and legal studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio. During that time, she thought she wanted to be a lawyer then she thought she wanted to write children’s books, but soon realized that she still had to explore some more.

Today, she finds herself exploring mainly issues related to identity formation, memory and ways of remembering, the hows and whos of the production of history, and the implications of the digital on cultural memory. Her research includes the role of community archives in shaping collective memories, the use of archives as centers of power, archives and memory retrieval, and the use of digital archives as a response to the historic erasure of marginalized peoples.

As a result of these experiences, Itza Carbajal represents many things – a transnational daughter of immigrants, a displaced Hurricane Katrina survivor, a woman of color, a product of neoliberal policies in Latin America, and a child raised in a working class environment.

More at www.itzacarbajal.com

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Emma Whittington

Portrait of Emma Whittington, SALALM Conference Attendance Scholarship awardee

How did you find out about the SALALM Scholarship?

I first heard about the SALALM scholarship through the UT iSchool’s listerserv, where a Dean had sent the announcement. I was also reminded by various colleagues at the library where I work.

Did you know about SALALM before you applied for the scholarship?

I had heard of SALALM before I applied; many of my colleagues are members. However, I didn’t know much about the organization or their aims until I applied to attend the conference.

Where did you earn your MLS/MLIS and what was your area of specialization?

I am earning my MIS at the University of Texas Austin. I am concurrently earning an MA in Latin American Studies, so that is my “specialization,” though within the iSchool program I focus specifically on archives.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

I had a long-standing interest in libraries and archives and recognized that I would likely get a Master’s in the field as early as my second year of undergrad. It wasn’t until I began doing archival research for my undergrad thesis that I started seriously looking into programs and considering my options. I did research using the University of Virginia’s Jorge Luis Borges collection, which led me to apply to a fellowship with the Rare Book School (RBS). These two experiences played a significant role in solidifying my desire to pursue a graduate degree, as did my subsequent position as a Programs Assistant at RBS.

When did or when do you expect to graduate?

May 2018

Do you have other graduate level degrees?

I do not currently possess any other graduate degrees, but will get an MA in Latin American Studies from the Lozano Long Institute at the same time that I receive my MIS, May 2018. The opportunity to work towards both degrees simultaneously has allowed some wonderful and unique chances to combine archival theory and practice with scholarly, archival research and helps me to think about the functions of the archive from many different perspectives.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I always say my “way in” to Latin American was through Jorge Luis Borges. I first fell in love with his writing when I was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia reading his short stories in a seminar. It wasn’t until I learned of UVa’s incredible collection of Borges materials that I really started to consider how I could turn my interest in Borges into a career. During my thesis, I went to Buenos Aires to conduct interviews with various antiquarian booksellers—I was studying the history of several of the major publishers who published Borges material. This lead me to eventually move to Buenos Aires in 2013, where I spent one year living and working. I moved there specifically because of my interest in Argentine authors and my desire to become a confident Spanish speaker. While there, I traveled within the country and also made trips to Uruguay, Chile, and Bolivia. If all goes as planned, I will be back in Buenos Aires to conduct fieldwork for my Master’s thesis in the Summer of 2017. Meanwhile I am happy to take any trips to Latin America that I can; I’m currently writing this from Mexico City!

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

I serve as Graduate Research Assistant for the Special Collections department at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas Austin. I have held this position since September 2016. It’s a unique opportunity to get a feel for the day-to-day work that goes on in a Latin American archive, including everything from assisting researchers in locating records, pulling collection materials, maintaining order in the stacks, and processing archival collections. Since beginning, I have processed three collections. The first was a small collection of 47 items, all related to the Concrete Poetry movement in Argentina. The second was a collection of papers and business documents of William Schuchardt, who served as American Consulate to Mexico in the 1800s. The most recent project was a collection of legal records related to the Hacienda Palmira, an important property located in the region of Coahuila y Tejas and owned by the influential Madero Family. In addition to these collections, I also played a role in processing the Benson’s recent Ernesto Cardenal acquisition, and over the summer I held a temporary position at the Harry Ransom Center working to digitize materials in the Gabriel Garcia Márquez archive. Next semester I will begin working on the papers of Jacqueline E. Barnitz, a noted historian of Latin American art.

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference? When and where?

I was fortunate to receive a scholarship that allowed me to attend the May 2016 SALALM conference in Charlottesville, Virginia. The conference was a bit of a homecoming for me, as I completed my bachelor’s degree at UVa and loved having the chance to see old faces alongside new ones.

What was the most interesting or unexpected thing that you learned at the conference?

What surprised me the most was the camaraderie of the members, many of whom have been attending for many years. SALALM is one of the smaller conferences I’ve attended and I was really impressed by how well people seemed to know on another. I was also struck by the fact that many of the people in attendance hold long-standing affiliations with their institutions and have careers spanning 30+ years—something to aspire to!

Did you attend any committee meetings?

I did. I attended the committee meeting on Digital Primary Resources.

If you gave a paper or presentation at the conference, give a brief description.

I did not give a presentation because I was intimidated by the prospect. Now that I have been to a few presentations, met some participants, and gotten a feel for what the typical talk looks like, I will be much more likely to participate in the future.

Was SALALM helpful in the development of your career? In what way?

Yes. As someone who is still transitioning into the professional world, the exposure to the SALAM community was a great way to see who professionals balance their own work at their institutions with their desire to participate in professional development events. Many attendees came in and out of sessions or attended for 4/5 days; as someone who hadn’t really attended a major conference before last May I think the biggest thing I learned was protocol. I also really, really appreciated going to the panels; I know that I want to present at conferences down the line but until I saw other people give talks I wasn’t sure what that format was supposed to look like. It was great to see people who gave formal presentations right alongside more casual, informal talks that became opportunities to share professional frustrations or to get feedback on specific issues. It was a great experience.

I never would have been able to attend the conference without the scholarship. I was also very grateful for the per diem, which was more than I typically spend as a broke grad student. That generosity allowed me to pick up the tab for a couple of lunches I had with folks I met at the conference, which I think sent a great message about community building among SALALM. Also, the fact that the conference was in Charlottesville meant that I was able to see a lot of old friends and co-workers who’ve meant a lot to me over the years; I stayed for several days after the conference ended and used that time to catch up with old professors and mentors, as well as took a couple days to visit old friends and family. I am so grateful to have had that time as I don’t foresee being able to go back anytime soon.

Is the SALALM Scholarship listed on your CV?

Yes, and I suspect that having that award listed has helped me greatly. Since I was able to add that detail to my CV in May, I was hired first for a position at the Harry Ransom Center—digitizing the García Márquez manuscripts—and later for my position as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Benson’s Latin American Collection.

Interview with SALALM Scholarship Awardee: Talía Guzmán-González

Portrait of Talía Guzmán-González, SALALM Conference Attendance Scholarship awardee

How did you find out about the SALALM Scholarship?

I received an email through my MLS program at the University of Maryland, but I had seen it announced on the SALALM website before as well.

Did you know about SALALM before you applied for the scholarship?

Yes, I’ve known about SALALM since I was in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. My friend Paloma Celis-Carbajal frequently talked about this great organization focused on Latin American and Iberian collections. As a graduate student in the Portuguese program, I was intrigued by the things I could do with my degree besides teaching.

Where did you earn your MLS/MLIS and what was your area of specialization?

I completed my MLS degree in December, 2016, at the University of Maryland in College Park. I did the general MLS program, but took many classes on Archives.

What drew you to the field of librarianship/archival studies?

As I was completing my graduate studies in Luso-Brazilian literature, I wanted to expand my professional options beyond the tenure path. I did go to the job market, had job offers and even worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Maryland, but becoming an academic librarian was really what interested me because it would allow me to continue working in the field of Latin American studies (beyond my Luso-Brazilian specialty), stay up to date with recent publications and research trends, and participate in a larger academic community. Besides, librarians are awesome, who wouldn’t want to be a librarian?

When did or when do you expect to graduate?

I graduated in December 2016.

Do you have other graduate level degrees?

Yes, I have a Ph.D. in Luso-Brazilian studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

How did you become interested in Latin America/Iberia? Describe your language abilities and experiences studying and/or traveling in Latin America.

I am from Puerto Rico, so you can say that I have, in a way, always been interested in Latin America and the Caribbean. As a child I went to a summer camp, Campamento Pioneril 26 de Julio, in Varadero, Cuba. There I met kids from all over the world, and I became friends with many kids from Latin America. I gained a sense of a world much larger than my island and a sort of regional identity. That’s probably the first time I became consciously interested in Latin America. Later, I studied my Bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies at the University of Puerto Rico, then my MA in Portuguese at Indiana University. I’m a native speaker of Spanish and have near-native fluency in Portuguese and English. I can read French and Italian.

Have you worked with a Latin American/Iberian archival or library collection? In what capacity?

I am currently a Reference Librarian in the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress, where I am the Luso-Brazilian specialist. I am also the recommending officer for Central American countries. This is my first job as a librarian, so I can’t complain: I am working with a pretty amazing collection!

Were you able to attend the annual SALALM conference? When and where?

I attended the 2015 Conference at Princeton University. I think it was fortuitous that my first conference at SALALM focused on Brazil. In a way it was as if all my interests came together in one place. I felt like I had finally found my people!

What was the most interesting or unexpected thing that you learned at the conference?

So many interesting things: the presentations were really good, the tour of the Special Collections and Archives (seeing those letters by Gabriel García Márquez and the book on Palés Matos . . . wow). I also liked Latin American Research Resources Project presentations. I had been at academic conferences before, but this aspect of sharing information and ongoing work was really refreshing and useful to see for a newcomer like me. Unexpected? The party! Librarians dancing and having fun, that was a great.

Did you attend any committee meetings?

I attended several meetings, to see what they were about: the Digital Primary Resources, Membership, and Marginalized Peoples and Ideas. All very interesting.

If you gave a paper or presentation at the conference, give a brief description.

I did not present in my first SALALM, but I will be presenting a paper in the upcoming conference in Ann Arbor.

Was SALALM helpful in the development of your career? In what way?

Yes. SALALM has been helpful in so many ways already. The Conference Attendance Scholarship allowed me to go to Princeton and finally see what SALALM was all about, meet professionals in the field and students like myself who are just starting their careers. Everyone was really supportive and welcoming. Although my career is just starting, I feel like I have a network of people I can count on for professional advice.

Is the SALALM Scholarship listed on your CV?

Proudly and prominently!

30 años no es nada… Celebrating Guadalajara’s International Book Fair at 30

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.

fridaOnly 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.

luchalibreMarisolI 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.

PalomaFIL2016 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.
filoption2016
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.

Images:
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.

Fellowship Details Here

DanHazenFellowship

Searching for the Right Book in Buenos Aires

42-feria-internacional-del-libro-buenos-airesBy the time the 42nd Buenos Aires Book Fair opened to book professionals, several of the librarians from the United States attending this year’s event had already visited many of the book spaces in a city known for its many book outlets. It was no coincidence that the hotel was only a few blocks away from Avenida Corrientes, still home to many a book shop in Argentina’s capital. Only a few weeks earlier the iconic street had showcased its legado libresco at La Noche de las Librerías, 2016salamistasBsAs a cultural event already in it’s 9th year.

For me, I was determined to find a book I had seen at a bookdealer’s catalog in San Francisco. The profusely illustrated, oversize hardcover proved to be quite an adventure: none of the main shops on Corrientes had even heard about it. At one of them it was suggested I consult Librería de la Imagen, whose specialty is local and importerd art books. But the store was already closed on a Saturday afternoon.librosargentiios

A few days later at the Fair’s exhibit hall I mentioned it to the shop’s owner and he had a vague notion about it but his bookstore did not carry it. When I finally secured a copy, thanks to our Library’s vendor, I showed it to the MALBA bookshop cashier who was equally impressed by the book and just as surprised about the limited distribution, ya sabe como son las cosas por acá, he said, agreeing with me that it would make sense for the Museum’s bookstore to have copies for sale.

As in previous years, academic presses had a very visible collective stand while several of the regional governments (provincias) were mostly housed in a large pabellón along with several other NGOs. A local dealer commented that given the new, more fiscally conservative government these entities may not have the same presence at subsequent fairs.

New at this year’s book fair: an on-site courier service that facilitated sending packages without leaving the exhibit hall and Nuevo Barrio, the aisle housing independent publishers with a combined output ranging from fanzines to libros artesanales and graphic novels. nuevo-barrio-feria-del-libro

By the time the fair closed its doors after a three week run, organizers reported having hosted 1.2 milion visitors, also announcing Los Angeles as Ciudad invitada for 2017.

Adan Griego, Curator for IberoAmerican Collections-Stanford University.

How to “Book Fair”: A New Librarian’s trip to the #FILGDL2015

This article is cross-posted from the WESS newsletter.

The FIL, or Feria Internacional de Libro de Guadalajara (Guadalajara International Book Fair), is a “must go” for any librarian building a collection of Spanish-language materials. It is the largest annual Spanish-language book fair in the Western Hemisphere. At the fair, you will have access to academic, independent, and commercial publishers, networking with colleagues who do the same work you do, and Spanish-language materials from all over the world, at all reading levels, on topics ranging from general to specific interests. This article follows a previous WESS Newsletter article titled, “From Coast to Coast: A New Librarian’s Summer of Professional Development.” In that article, I mentioned some of the ways I had been preparing to attend the book fair in Mexico. The fair took place November 28 – December 5, 2015, with three Professional Days, or días con horario exclusivo para profesionales, during which librarians and book distributors could work unimpeded by the public. In this article, I will give an overview of the preparations, attendance, and results of attending a book fair. There’s not one way to feriar, or “book fair,” so you should consider what works for your local context and personal abilities.

It’s worth noting the American Library Association’s ALA-FIL FREE PASS Program is open for registration for 2016 with a September 2 deadline. According to their website, “The Guadalajara Book Fair is offering an additional $100 to the first 100 applicants who submit their airfare confirmation by October 2nd.” Both the ALA and the FIL offer a $100 reimbursement, for a total of $200, providing you meet the deadlines and criteria. The FIL also has a robust website, available in English, that you should review before attending. Note you don’t have to speak Spanish to attend, but you will most likely rely on your colleagues and perhaps a distributor who do.

I’ll discuss the following:

  • Making your Case
  • Before leaving the US
  • Orientations
  • Working with a distributor
  • Attending: shopping, navigating, and using technology
  • Shipping materials & returning to the US

MAKING YOUR CASE

In the digital age, attending a book fair in another country may be perceived by your library’s administration or colleagues as unnecessary: “Can’t you just order these books online?” Fortunately for me, that is not the case at my institution, despite the trend of my library moving toward a more Patron-Driven Acquisition (PDA) model (which assumes that books will be available when the patron realizes they want them. Spanish-language materials, given limited print runs and other constraints, are not easily available online). Given your local situation, you may have to advocate for attending the book fair by mentioning benefits like access to limited print runs and small and independent publishers. Brushing up on persuasion techniques, like I mentioned in my first article, could be helpful. Additionally, you may have to make the case why attending the book fair is cost-effective.

Fortunately, a generous colleague of mine in SALALM (Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials) had already crunched the numbers and was willing to share that information with me so I could show the Head of Acquisitions at my institution. My colleague had compared how much it would cost to buy the books at retail in the US from a distributor versus travel expenses, purchases, and shipping costs in a do-it-yourself, or DIY, model. He found that it was significantly cheaper for him to go to the FIL and purchase and ship the books himself, given the large volume of materials he is able to purchase. He also noted that a large portion of what he bought was unique to his library in his state (around 90% of titles!) according to an examination of other libraries’ holdings via WorldCat. Unique titles in a sense are priceless because they add a richness and depth to not only your library’s collection, but the whole Interlibrary Loan landscape.

To be clear, the FIL is a professional development activity. As another SALALM colleague put it, “it’s impossible not to get professional development at the FIL.” If your library requires information about the program and sessions, check out the Training for Professionals page, as well as last year’s programming: FIL 2015 Program. There were many events, including talks by famous authors (Salman Rushdie, for example) and the OMT-FIL Translators Congress. Also, keep in mind the networking possibilities and relationships you will make with vendors and publishers. Even if you buy nothing, my colleague says, attending the FIL is useful because you learn about the publishing industry in ways you cannot at your desk. I found this to be true (even though I ended up buying a lot).

Beyond professional development, Guadalajara and its surroundings are a wonderful place to be a tourist. The nearby cities of Tlaquepaque and Tonalá are located in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area and have shops, vendors, and market days (you will need to join a tour or rent a car to get to these places). Within the city, there are plenty of historical and cultural sites. The city’s murals, by José Clemente Orozco and David Alvaro Siqueiros, are captivating. If you go beyond the city, you could visit a tequila distillery or the Guachimontones ruins with its fascinating circular stepped pyramids (and connection to the Voladores de Papantla, who you might see performing in Tlaquepaque). The language and culture immersion can only make you a better librarian and resource to your community and students.

SALALM Colleagues on a tour of the Tres Mujeres Distillery
SALALM Colleagues on a tour of the Tres Mujeres Distillery

BEFORE LEAVING THE US

I began my preparations with my library’s acquisitions department and fiscal officer. We discussed my budget, sales tax, currency conversion, and the possibility of working with a distributor. My library wanted to receive all books on one invoice, so that necessitated working with a distributor. Without one, I would have had to pay each vendor individually in cash and receive all manner of invoices, including some handwritten ones. Regarding currency, there are several ATMs located in or near the Expo Guadalajara conventions facility; however, I’m told they have a withdrawal limit of $300 USD per day and have been known to run out of cash. All of your purchases will be made in Mexican pesos; some vendors take credit cards. If you plan to spend a lot of money, I recommend getting currency from a bank in the US prior to travel and taking common safety precautions (the book fair gets really crowded!). A SALALM colleague of mine takes tax-exempt forms with her for vendors to fill out in order to do business with them later by mail.

A distributor will purchase your selected titles and ship them to your library along with an invoice with their markup on the prices. Receiving an invoice from only one company may be a benefit to your organization as was the case with mine, but you should also take into consideration what services the distributor provides, what their turnaround time is for shipping, and what their markup is on the price of the books. They may only provide you a rough estimate of the markup. Postage may also be a separate charge. Distributors often negotiate a price lower than the feria or special book fair price, so their markup will be some percentage on top of a price to which you may not be privy. The discount varies by vendor and their relationship to your distributor. My SALALM colleagues recommended various distributors to me and suggested I speak on the phone with a few of them before deciding with whom to work.

I also prepared to attend the FIL by getting to know the areas of interest of the Spanish Program faculty at my institution. I created a survey on what types of materials and content they preferred in order to delve deeper than the information that is available via their faculty profiles. I attended a faculty meeting, described the book fair, and handed out fliers with the link to the survey. They were enthusiastic about my endeavor, and their responses influenced which country and vendor/publisher stands I visited.

Universidad de Guadalajara stand

Universidad de Guadalajara stand

ORIENTATIONS

As I mentioned in my fall article, Adan Griego led the Spanish portion of the Area Studies Workshop in San Francisco last summer that provided a lot of background information on the publishing industry and market for Spanish-language library materials in the US. He is the Curator for Latin American, Mexican-American and Iberian Collections at the Stanford University Libraries, and a colleague of mine in SALALM who first began attending book fairs in 1992. In his post, Attending Book Fairs: Why It Matters, he mentions several important considerations for attending book fairs, including access to limited print runs, or tirajes, of sometimes only 250-500 copies. See photo, below, for an example of what to look for in a book:

"The print run was 500 copies."

“The print run was 500 copies.”

Adan led a pre-FIL/ALA orientation webinar for all librarians about a week before the fair, and an in-person orientation for academic librarians with Lisa Johnson (Eckert College) at one of the conference hotels, the Guadalajara Plaza Ejecutivo López Mateos (many of the area hotels have similar names, so be sure to know your hotel name and address). Adan typically does a walk-through of the Expo Guadalajara convention facility to scope vendor stand locations and possible hot items. This past year there were graphic novels about Juan Rulfo, Gabriel García Márquez, and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. A distributor can also advise you on trending areas of study and other practical advice about the book fair, so if you are working with one, you should definitely chat with them before heading to the fair.

Picture4-1 Graphic novel covers

The pre-FIL/ALA orientation webinar covered concerns about what to expect: hotel facilities (they’re comfortable and comparable to US hotels), how to pack for the climate in Guadalajara, transportation concerns, etc. The webinar also covered how to get to know your library user community through census data and other ways. As an aside, I found using Uber in Guadalajara was the cheapest and quickest option when I was too tired to walk. I also found that I could get a TravelPassSM through Verizon for only $2/day that gave me access to talk, text, and data in Mexico. Other phone providers may offer similar services.

Attending the in-person orientation was especially helpful since I had some publishers and areas of research in mind. Adan and Lisa knew the vendors and even the locations of some of their stalls, which helped me to plot my course through the Expo building. Adan also mentioned that some of the stalls, like UNICEF and some of the government publishers, would hand out free materials to librarians if we asked for them.

 

WORKING WITH A DISTRIBUTOR

As I mentioned, a distributor will purchase your selected titles and ship them to your library along with an invoice with their markup on the prices. I chose to work with Alfonso Vijil of Libros Latinos, which has recently taken over operations of the Latin American Book Store (LABS). I worked with Alfonso because I already had an Approval Plan with LABS and knew there was the potential for receiving duplicates of the titles I selected at the FIL, so I wanted to avoid costly returns of materials. I also knew Alfonso and Linda Russo of LABS have been in the business for a long time, are themselves SALALM members, and have worked with several of my colleagues. To contract a distributor, you may want to first see if any of your established vendors offer this type of service, you can ask your professional network for recommendations, or, once you register for the FIL, you can expect to receive emails from distributors offering their services to you. You may or may not have a written agreement with a distributor about the terms of the relationship, but you should talk to your library administration if that is a concern. Many distributors operate on a personal relationship-based honor system. Some distributors may be willing to ship your materials for you on a hybrid-DIY model, allowing you to purchase and package your own materials and save a bit of money. Be aware that packaging your own materials can be exhausting, especially if you are going to haul large amounts of them across the Expo facility floor. A public librarian will have a very different experience with a distributor than an academic librarian, so be sure to find out the typical clientele of your potential distributor.

In my case, I left piles of books at each vendor stall with my card on them and Alfonso’s name written on the back. I let each vendor know that Alfonso would be coming around to pay for and pick up my books. (I’d then send a text to Alfonso so he and his team could plan to swing by certain stalls before the end of the day.) Many of them already knew him, and most seemed very at ease with the arrangement. As I mentioned, some of these books have extremely limited print runs, so if you have very specific needs, you may be able to use the online FIL catalog to identify titles that you want to purchase and call your distributor in advance to have them set aside. Some distributors prefer that you provide a list of titles to buy instead of making piles of books for them to pick up. Some even offer scanning tools to use on the barcodes of desired items (anecdotally, I heard these don’t always work well). Distributors may attempt to get your titles cheaper through another channel after the FIL is over. If this is the case, you may end up getting only 50-75% of the titles you selected at the FIL because of unavailability through those other channels. Be sure to discuss this possibility with your distributor and agree upon the best way to work together and communicate while at the FIL.

 

ATTENDING: SHOPPING, NAVIGATING AND USING TECHNOLOGY

Each day, I would spend about 4 hours working at the fair. It’s tedious and fun at the same time, but the work will drain you. Plan to use the other hours to network, sightsee, and attend professional development activities. Before leaving my hotel in the mornings, I would revisit my faculty survey results as well as the floor map of the Expo building. I made myself a list of the stalls and vendors I wanted to visit that day, based on my faculty needs and recommendations from Adan and other colleagues. I also kept a running estimate of my funds.

Because of the availability of WiFi throughout the venue, I used my iPad and Bluetooth keyboard to check WorldCat while making my selections. Upon entering a stand, I would start looking around for books that fit my library users’ needs. Sometimes I would speak with the staff at the stand when there was something particular I needed or was unable to find. Then, I would make a pile of books that I was interested in. Often the staff would clear a spot for me to stand or find me a chair, and I would look them up individually. Using WorldCat, I was able to check if my library already owned the title and what other nearby libraries owned it. When I determined which items I wanted to buy according to my criteria, I would make a pile of books for Alfonso to pick up and snap a photo of it.

Your criteria for the books you select will depend upon local needs, but you may also wish to consider how your purchases will fit into the larger library landscape in the US. Watch for translations of English language materials into Spanish. They can be tricky to spot, so double-check the title pages for names of translators or ask a staff person. Note that University Presses may bring older books, like a series of classic works, so you cannot assume everything at the fair is new. If you take an assistant (in my case, my dad), it cost $650 Mexican Pesos (approximately $37 USD) to pay the on-site registration for an additional person. He helped me to keep a separate handwritten list of the titles I selected at each stand, which came in useful, along with the photos of my piles of books, when reconciling invoices later.

Me and my trustworthy Sancho Panza/dad

Me and my trustworthy Sancho Panza/dad

My SALALM colleague at SUNY-Albany, Jesús Alonso-Regalado, put together some slides titled, “Making Book Fairs Friendlier Through Technology.” I won’t repeat any of the information in the slides, but I will update it: the FIL had an app by Goomeo called “FIL GDL 2015” that I found in the Play store (I don’t believe there’s an app for Apple users), that claimed to be the official app for FIL GDL 2015. There were additional unofficial apps. The Schedule was somewhat useful with events listed by date, but with 100+ events per day, you would have to scroll a lot. If you forgot which day Salman Rushdie was going to be there, you’d have to search for his name within the schedule for each individual day (a pre-filtered search). Maps were easy to use, but not searchable. Book Search was the catalog, but it did not seem to be comprehensive. The Exhibitors search worked within a country, so if you knew the name of a stand/vendor, but not its country, you could not find it easily (another pre-filtered search by country). The app does have a full-text search feature; but depending on the uniqueness of your search term, the results are potentially overwhelming. In the slides, Jesús provides some useful tips for preparing for technology, or lack thereof. He suggests taking a list of what your library already owns. I expected to have spotty or no Access to WiFi, so I obtained a list of all the books my library owns in Spanish into a spreadsheet and used the iPad App DocsToGo in order to read, search, and edit it. I didn’t end up using it because of the availability of WiFi and access to WorldCat and my library’s catalog.

The International area of the fair does not get as much traffic as the National area, so if you have to work on a non-professional day, be sure to visit the National area during professional days and save the International area for later. The International area also has a Salón de Profesionales or Professionals’ Room with a snack bar, meeting tables for consultations with publishers and other vendors, and a secure room to store your boxes if you are preparing to ship them yourself. It’s a great place to take a break. There is also a restaurant located outside the International Area near the side entrance to the facility where you can get delicious meals of typical Mexican favorites, like chilaquiles. Nearby are several hotels, which also have restaurants and business centers. The most delicious snack, however, may be the elote that you can buy from street vendors.

Professionals’ Room table

Professionals’ Room table

SHIPPING MATERIALS & RETURNING TO THE US

If you feel energetic and confident in your Spanish, you may wish to make arrangements with a private shipping company. There was a PakMail shipping store located on Avenida López Mateos Sur, near my conference hotel (Guadalajara Plaza Ejecutivo López Mateos), with both DHL and FedEx services. Some of my SALALM colleagues have used similar businesses in the past to ship books back to the US; others have taken a few books and DVDs back in their suitcases (take an extra empty suitcase!). My colleagues have told me DVDs may be charged duty when shipped into the US, so it’s better to put them in your suitcase if you only have a handful of them. I’m not an attorney or expert in import law, so you may also wish to contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the port where you will reenter the US. I spoke on the phone with a Customs agent in Houston who told me there are limits on the retail amount of the DVDs you bring back. He said if you have around $100-$200 worth, you are probably well within your rights to bring them to the US with no duty, but he recommended having all invoices/receipts available when declaring your goods at Customs, and suggested carrying a letter from your institution explaining the materials are for educational purposes. He also recommended getting assistance from an independent Customs Broker, especially if you are importing larger volumes of materials. Note that even if DVDs aren’t charged duty a broker will charge their own service fee and a merchandising fee. If you ship the materials yourself, a colleague warned me not to use the Mexican post, but rather FedEx Air (not Ground). If you use a ground shipping method, there’s the potential for your books to be damaged at the border, where they will be opened for inspection and re-packaged. Ground shipping requires additional paperwork and is slower, but is also cheaper, especially if you are sending large quantities of materials.

My materials arrived during January, 1 ½-2 months after I was in Mexico. I worked with the Acquisitions and Cataloging departments to arrange to have the books brought to me upon arrival, so that the Spanish Program faculty could stop by and check them out during an open house. I also talked about the book fair in my instruction sessions. One of my students was having trouble finding information about the Mexican author Jorge Volpi, and we were both surprised to find online news articles describing a talk he had given at the FIL.

The FIL is a well-attended and important cultural event in Guadalajara with lots of local, national, and international news coverage. It would have been impossible to participate in everything at the FIL, but the next time I go, I’ll be even better at “book fairing” and will make more of the opportunities to learn from the abundance of authors who attend.

Meganoticias covering the FIL

Meganoticias covering the FIL

Special thanks to my SALALM colleagues Adan Griego (Stanford), Nerea Llamas (University of Michigan), Jesús Alonso-Regalado (SUNY), Melissa Gasparotto (Rutgers), Linda Russo (Latin American Book Store), and Alfonso Vijil (Libros Latinos and the Latin American Book Store). Gracias a mi padre, Richard Maxson, por acompañarme y manejar las calles de Guadalajara en su carro alquilado. Thanks also to Sara Lowe for reading my draft. All photos are my own.

Bronwen K. Maxson, MLIS
Humanities Librarian, Liaison to English & Spanish
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
maxsonb@iupui.edu

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