Visit to the Biblioteca Nacioal
Photo by Marisol Ramos (Univ. of Connecticut)
Saturday, October 3rd
Even before I entered my hotel, off Madrid’s Gran Via I noticed a bookstore right across the street and another one 2 doors down. Plus, the famous Casa del Libro is only 2 blocks away. I was surprised I did not venture into book stacks until well into the afternoon when I found myself in the basement of Libreria Berkana to update a project that fellow SALALALMista/Reformista Tatiana de la Tierra and I started several years ago
Although I had noted in my Facebook status that I would be away, by the end of my first day in Spain I had distributed a list of “novedades” via the social network. This prompted a suggestion from friends: Enjoy the City!
When I returned to the hotel there was just sufficient time to get ready for meeting a long lost friend from undergraduate school (the “re-encuentro” was through Facebook). Over a great “arroz con pollo” with a special Peruvian touch, we shared stories of our whereabouts for the past 30 years, his more adventurous than mine: work with an NGO in the Andes, waiting tables in Madrid….
Sunday, October 4th
I was fatigued enough that I slept through the boisterous crowd on a festive Saturday night. Today, I will meet a colleague who is taking an early train from Barcelona. The train station is easily reached from the subway, only a few stops away from the hotel. It appears more crowded than I remember from previous visits. The next day a friend tells me that several of the City’s main arteries had been closed for a bike race, hence the unusually crowded subway.
On the way back from the Atocha train station, the Metro continued to be as crowded as before and that’s when my wallet mysteriously vanished from my pocket. “Tremenda desilusion” for the “carteristas” as there were only $40 dollars. The inconvenience of canceling cards did not deter from walking around the city on a most warm Sunday afternoon, ending for a much deserved lunch outdoors where we were the only foreigners. It was the same neighborhood where Teresa Chapa (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Cecilia Puerto (San Diego State) had looked for “comida casera” several years ago.
The pleasant sunny weather lent itself to continue walking and indeed we did until we reached the Telefonica Building. The multinational company now owns much of Latin America’s telecommunication networks. There’s a “sala de exposiciones” on the upper level with an exhibit on Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil’s legendary architect, .
For dinner we were joined by a New York writer who has lived in Madrid for more than 10 years. Inevitably the conversation turned to Google. One of my friend’s books has been digitized without his permission (not sure by which of the participating libraries) so he has opted out of the agreement that was to be approved soon but has been postponed, yet again.
Monday, October 5th
Today my Stanford colleague gives a talk at Spain’s Biblioteca Nacional. Going over her presentation on digital preservation that morning, I realized that in our “afan desenfrenado” to digitize any and all resources, there appears to be little discussion on how to preserve what has been digitized; much less what is born digital.
After her presentation, on our way back to the hotel we make a brief stop to browse at some of the “casetas” of rare/used book dealers participating in the “Feria de Otoño del libro viejo y antiguo” already on its 21st year. Hortensia Calvo (Tulane University) arrived the day before and has already spent several hours there.
Tuesday, October 6th
Today I move to another hotel where the more than 40 US librarians sponsored by the Spanish Publishers Association and America Reads Spanish are housed. The group includes 8 SALALM members attending LIBER 2009 and the first official outing is later in the day for the opening of the 27th annual book fair that alternates between Madrid and Barcelona.
Hortensia Calvo and I decide to venture through the multiple construction projects along the Paseo del Prado (it was not even noon yet) in search of the Museo de la Imprenta Juan de la Cuesta where the “edición príncipe” of Don Quijote was printed back in 1615. Had we read the tourist guide, we would have realized there was no museum yet.
We were in the vicinity of the “Barrio de las Letras” where Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Quevedo and Gongora once lived and a brief rest was a most welcome option.
Then we went into one of the bookstores in the area. The door was locked and when a young fellow let us in he asked what we were looking for. We said we wanted to browse. An older man asked what we wanted, which elicited a not so amiable comment from his young companion “pues, quieren ver…” in a very “Madrileño” accent. Only after Hortensia bought a book, did we start to see some “indicios” of customer service when they brought out a series of photos for us to see.
Afterward we made it past the ever-crowded heart of the city, the Puerta del Sol, we reached the Telefonica where we paused and checked email using some of the laptops on display.
On the way back to the hotel we visited another bookstore (Electrico Ardor), this one with a wide selection of titles from independent Latin American publishers. The owners said the name comes from famous tango. I realized I had been there a few days earlier while searching for an art gallery I wanted to visit.
We continued our promenade and found ourselves by the Sociedad General de Autores y Escritores which is often confused as a Gaudi building. I convinced us to go in and look for the bookshop I remember from a visit a few years earlier. We were directed to the basement and met the group’s librarian (“documentalista” said her business card). I was having a diva moment trying to explain why we were there but Hortensia rescued the moment with unusual diplomacy. In the end we got a tour of the hidden stacks and received a few publications.
I knew we were very close to the art gallery I had intended to visit: La Estampa. I had acquired from them a few artist books earlier in the year at a Book Arts Festival in Berkeley. I kept asking for “Quintiliano” street (which was nowhere to be found) until some one pointed out that “Justiniano” was around the corner and surely “Quintiliano” would be in the same neighborhood! Well, it was the former, but it was past 2pm and as most establishments still do in Spain, they were closed for lunch until after 5pm.
By now it was time to return to the hotel and get ready for the evening’s official opening ceremony for LIBER 2009 which was returning to Madrid after two years.
As is customary in this type of events, there is a highly “protocolario” component, with the Minster of Culture and other dignitaries in attendance. One of the opening speeches included an anti-Google remark, although Google had noted the day before “En España sólo se digitalizarán libros cuyos derechos hayan sido pactados.” Inevitably, diplomacy gave in: “vivimos momentos que requieren valentia de parte de nuestros gobernantes” became a not so subtle critique of the central government.
After the Russian ambassador spoke, representing the featured country, the Minster of Culture praised Spain’s publishing industry as “empresas que generan empleos” and reminded the audience that it was the 4th largest in the world. A not so surprising choice of words as the county endures the highest unemployment rate in the European Union.
What followed was a reception at many of the stands. It was a first chance for a preliminary view of what might be potentially of interest. The ones that stood out as representing a country (not a publisher) were those of Rumania and Morocco, which happen to be the countries that send the most immigrants to Spain. Rumanians have become the single largest group of foreigners and a website addressing the community’s issues within Spain highlights the fact that they make up 14.2% of Spain’s total foreign population of 5,598,691 people.
Wednesday, October 7th
It was still dark when our bus left the hotel to the IFEMA fairgrounds for a long day of visiting publishers. The program indicated my name as the first “charla” of the day at 8:30am. I had asked for 20 minutes and was ready to present in 15, but once I settled in with my PowerPoint, I spoke on “Bibliotecas en EUA: mercados para libros de interés general, E-books y edición universitaria.” I would have sworn I kept to the allotted 15 minutes as I continued speaking faster and faster. When it was over, I was reminded that I had taken 40 minutes! No one told me to stop and I did not see anyone falling asleep, but then again the lights were dimmed.
One of the points I stressed was the purchasing power of academic libraries, with statistics on hand and compiled from information supplied by vendors and replies from colleagues to my constant emails “dando la lata.” It may be the first time we have figures for the presence of Spain’s publishing output in academic libraries. It’s certainly something that can be updated to include other institutions. See chart at the very end of this posting.
It was now time to start jotting down new interesting titles to request via our book distributors and in between meetings, try to catch one of the panel discussions where e-books seemed to be more prevalent in the program than in previous years.
For those of us in the academic sector, the UNE stand of the Spanish university presses, as well as that of the government ministries made it all a “must visit.” Some one asked if UNE had a listing of titles by region (e.g., Latin America). Later on the suggestion was made to a member of the group who is both a librarian and a publisher. He agreed that it would be a very useful “apartado” to have and would bring it up for discussion at the upcoming group’s meeting. An advanced search in OCLC (“universidad OR universitat” as publisher and Spain as the location) gives 1369 titles for 1999-2009. Of the first 100 records, 16 were on Latin America. Here are the top 10 titles (with the number of holding libraries).
1) Edición e interpretación de textos andinos: actas del congreso internacional (93)
2) La memoria frente al poder: escritores cubanos del exilio (82)
3) El “boom femenino” hispanoamericano de los años ochenta…. (82)
4) El héroe pensativo: la melancolía en… Borges y…García Márquez (74)
5) El español en el sur de Estados Unidos…. (7)
6) Testamentos coloniales chilenos (70)
7) Borges y su herencia literaria (67)
8) Español y lenguas indoamericanas en Hispanoamérica (67)
9) Ensayos sobre la modernidad literaria hispanoamericana (66)
10) Cruzados de novela: las novelas de la guerra cristera (66)
In my analysis for UNE’s publishing output, the average OCLC holding locations ranged from 79 for joint publications to 70 for a single publisher. This, I think, strengthens my suggestion that electronic editions can reach a wider library audience in the United States where Spanish is by far the single largest foreign language with the most enrollment at the university level.
There seemed to be fewer attendees this year, something just as tangible at the Frankfurt Book Fair the following week where attendance was reported to have decreased by as much as 9,000(3%) from 2008. Even the 3 leading dailies (El Pais, El Mundo and ABC) did not seem to provide much press. The only news coverage appeared to be a segment airing on RTVE two days later, as LIBER was closing.
Thursday, Oct 8th
One of panels I wanted to attend was Javier Celaya’s “Redes sociales: nuevos canales para la venta de libros y compra de servicio.” Most of the audience seemed younger than I and had come to learn about ways to integrate social networks into their publishing business plans. Celaya is well versed on this topic as the daily postings on his blog Dosdoce highlight the most recent development on electronic publishing. Surely Celaya and those attending had read the news from the day before. “La Red está en España llena de compradores potenciales pero falta oferta – El negocio se estanca porque las empresas no acaban de embarcarse en el comercio electrónico.”
Today would mean an early departure from the IFEMA fairground to visit a Police Station and sign my “Denuncia” for the subway pick-pocketing. A very convenient phone call a few days earlier meant I just had to show up and pick up the document that proved to be a lifesaver back in California in all the forthcoming paperwork needed to replace stolen documents.
Afterwards, it would be a visit to the Biblioteca Nacional where several SALALM, WESS and REFORMA members would receive a detailed “visita guiada” to Spain’s National Library. It was founded in 1712 and houses a rich collection of resources: more than 30,000 manuscripts, 3,000 incunabulae, close to 110,000 serials, 20,000 newspapers and more than 6 million “monografías modernas.”
Many of these resources are being digitized Biblioteca Digital Hispanica; Hemeroteca Digital and reach users beyond the Library’s physical walls.
Hortensia and I arrived early to visit the gift shop where many of the catalogs published by the Library are available for sale. We asked if there was a “listado” of their publications but there appears to be none. As elusive as their catalogs may be, OCLC lists 208 monographs for the last 10 years. Tesoros de la cartografía Española (2001) leads with 39 holding libraries. A centralized list of publications would highlight other interesting titles like:
* La Luna de Madrid y otras revistas de vanguardia de los años 80 (13)
* El voto de las mujeres, 1877-1978 : exposición, Biblioteca Nacional (20)
*Ephemera : la vida sobre papel : colección de la Biblioteca Nacional (16)
*Memoria de la seducción : carteles del siglo XIX en la Biblioteca Nacional (13)
Following the tour, some of us visited a recently opened exhibit (Sefarad Photo), which highlights episodes of Jewish life in Spain since the late 19th century.
It was still light out, so Hortensia Calvo and I traced our steps from a few days ago in search of the artist book Galeria la Estampa. This time we arrived during business hours and spent a most interesting evening with the artist-owner, extending into a visit to one of the local bars to savor some authentic “tapas” that included “morcilla.” I am quite “quisquilloso” on food (others would say “aburrido”) so I passed on the offer to try it.
Friday, October 9th
Today is the last day of my stay in Madrid and I often wish I had extra time for a movie or at least to visit a museum but I will have to make do with the next 24 hours.
One of the sessions attended by several SALALMistas was on e-books in academic libraries. The most interesting “ponencia” posed the question how libraries can and must justify their existence in a digital world. Joaquín Rodríguez, a sociologist by training, currently overseeing an joint academic publishing program with Grupo Santillana and the University of Salamanca who also blogs at Los futuros del libro provided a compelling response: “Las bibliotecas son una pieza fundamental del sostenimiento de las sociedades democráticas….” I had two more meetings with publishers, so I had to leave right as the Q &A session was about to start.
I leave the fairgrounds in the hopes of catching an early showing of Alejandro Amenabar’s latest movie. The award-winning director has just premiered Agora, which is being billed as the most expensive film ever produced in Spain. The movie was presented to the press only a block away from our hotel, at the Biblioteca Nacional a few days earlier. But I took a longer nap than expected and missed the film.
I had hoped for an early-to-bed last evening in Spain, but I could not turn down an offer for “tapas” with friends from the Revista de Libros and JSTOR. The latter will soon increase its offer of Latin American titles to include some ARCE journals, an endeavor close to SALALM’s scholarly constituency.
Also present at dinner was young woman from puntoycoma, a great publication geared to students of Spanish as a foreign language. Perhaps the last thing on their minds on a Friday night was “to talk shop” but I asked why the magazine’s content was not done totally online and forego the print.
Once our food arrived, I ceased to comment on work related matters and I could not resist tasting a thing here, a thing there….after all, I was going to take my cholesterol pill that evening.
Spain’s Publishing Output in US Academic/Research Libraries
Many thanks to my friend and colleague Glen Worthey who not only read and corrected typos but also helped in up-loading images.
Posted by Adán Griego.