Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Heard it at the 2009 Gudalajara Book Fair

I had just left the Larousse stand, immersed in nostalgia at seeing the red dictionary I remember from high school. I had memorized many of the Latin phrases in the “pink section” and wrote them on the back of my general biology exam. I got an “F” and the teacher called me in to say that if I could learn those words I could pass my next exam.

¿Para qué sirven los libros? The questioning voice was loud enough I could hear it clearly over the echoes of those from the hundreds who had opted to spend a Sunday afternoon book browsing. When I turned around to see who could utter such an aberration at a book festival, I caught a glimpse of the young boy. He was probably not much older than 12 or 13 and for a moment I felt transported hundreds of miles away when I filed a similar complaint: ¿para qué sirve la doctrina?

My many quejas were in vain. I had to stay after Mass for Sunday school. But the Spanish cognate gives a much better sense of what it all was, indoctrination. My brother, five years older than I, responded to my protest: para ir al cielo.
al paraíso. I was hungry and could care less about paradise, but my mother had already decided for me. One hour of doctrina… and at 12 (going on 13, I always corrected everyone) I had no say in the matter.

Perhaps I stared at the boy with such intensity that his mother held out her arm to protect him from my penetrating gaze while he questioned out loud again,
¿para qué sirven los libros? I wanted to reassure him: para ir al paraíso ….son el paraíso. I wanted to tell him that books had saved my life those endless summers when the never ending smell of onions permeated my soul and my sole refuge were the words of Steinbeck and Hemingway (which I encountered first in Spanish at the local public library). Later those of Lorca and Machado gave solace to the scorching days after toiling in the onion and cotton fields. Their lulling metaphors gave me the fortitude and comfort lacking in that Church indoctrination.

¡Para eso sirven los libros!

Photo (c) Juan Boites, EL UNIVERSAL, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Using RSS for Collection Development

This first appeared in the October 2009 issue of SALALM newsletter, as part of the web 2.0 column. Please contact alison.hicks @ colorado.edu for more information.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: RSS is the most useful tool in the web 2.0 world. If you only have time to play with one tool, make it RSS. If you’re already using RSS to keep up with your favourite blogs, cartoons and cake wrecks, it’s time you considered using it for collection development too. What is RSS? RSS (Real Simple Syndication) is used to receive automatic updates from a web page. An RSS feed is simply a list of new information that appears on a website. New material is automatically gathered into one place in a feed reader, arranged to be read, skimmed or saved for later, in one format that is easy to save or send by e-mail. Content updates exist for websites, blogs, searches – everything! For more information, see the ‘RSS in Plain English’ video.

Keeping abreast of contemporary fiction is a challenge, particularly for a new librarian when it is published a foreign country. Media outlets do not always pick up new and first-time authors until they win an award and furthermore, it is becoming hard to rely on published book reviews. Owing to the economic crisis in traditional journalism, many newspapers are cutting Literary Editor positions and reducing the number of book reviews (as demonstrated by Library Journal’s initial decision to close Críticas, for example.) At the same time, a new breed of book reviewer had emerged – the literary blogger. Although many decry the rise of the ‘over-opinionated and under-qualified dilettante’, literary bloggers often provide an alternative viewpoint, picking up on many titles and authors that are ignored by the major publishing houses’ marketing.

One of the central tenets of Web 2.0 is the facilitation of communication, using the Web as a two-way conversation rather than solely as an information provider. While we are extremely lucky to be able to rely on the specialized knowledge of the SALALM libreros, librarians also need to take advantage of this paradigm shift. Subscribing to personal blogs, small-scale literary magazines and newsletters through RSS means that the Internet can be used to develop a wider knowledge of recent publications as well as a barometer to gauge cultural and literary developments from within a country.

A good place to start finding literary information is to scour regular, foreign and speciality (such as Technorati, Blogalaxia, Blogazos) search engines for literary blogs. Search for key authors, literature prizes or recent literary news to find relevant bloggers. Most bloggers also provide links to the blogs that they read, which can be mined for further examples. Other sources of information include literary-prize websites, newsletters, literary associations, journals and magazines. Recently, book review aggregators have sprung up, which can make keeping up to date even more efficient. (Culture Critic, Complete Review.) I subscribe to around 20-30 sources, which gives me insight into formal and informal literary developments in the country in question without becoming overloaded. Obviously, a certain number of articles hold no interest for me, or overlap with others, but it is easy to skim through articles, and the inevitable overlap assures me that enough bases are being covered.

I channel these feeds into one super feed through Yahoo! Pipes. For more information about how to set up a yahoo pipe, please see my mini tutorial. Look at my sources here.

Alison Hicks

University of Colorado, Boulder

Monday, November 23, 2009

New column on Web 2.0

This column appears in the SALALM newsletter. After consultation with various people, we've decided to publish it here too. Please let me know if you have any comments, questions or requests for future columns!
Alison Hicks
alison.hicks (at) colorado.edu

Hands up if you’re bored of the phrase “web 2.0” already? Who’s tired of thinking that if you’re not twittering/on facebook/creating iphone apps you’re tragically unhip? Who believes that web 2.0 is an overused, useless catchphrase that just gives students another excuse not to study and has no place in Latin American librarianship today? If you answered yes to any of these questions then this new column is for you!

Everyday we’re bombarded with journals and presentations and colleagues advocating that web 2.0 is the solution to all our problems, from student engagement to cataloguing, to world peace. Libraries are signing up in their droves to ensure that they have a facebook page and a twitter feed and if you don’t have a blog, well, you’re so twentieth century. Web twopointopia has taken over the planet- but is it worth it? Is it really the miracle solution that libraries have been looking for? And, does it really have a role in academia or in Latin American librarianship?

In this new column, I aim to explore the concept of Web 2.0 and to provide specific examples of how 2.0 can be useful for SALALM librarians today. I plan to show that there is academic value in some of these tools and to provide easy, non-technical introductions to the concepts so you can play along too. In future weeks I intend to cover how Web 2.0 is impacting book reviews and language learning tools among other things. I also want to hear what you would like to know about- so please feel free to challenge me to cover a tool or to solve a problem for you.

In this first column, I thought it would be useful to give a simple definition of Web 2.0. So, firstly, take a deep breath and forget everything that you know about Web 2.0. Because the most important concept about Web 2.0 is that it isn’t a thing, a tool or a trend that is limited to technology; rather, it is a state of mind. There are five main characteristics that define the state. Web 2.0 is collaborative because its ease of use ensures wide participation that depends on teamwork rather than individualism. It is communal because web 2.0 creates empowering connections between people with similar interests. It is creative because it uses and reuses material in novel ways. It is unControlled because there is not one centralised power controlling the web. Finally, and most importantly, web 2.0 is a conversation that changes us from passive to active consumers, giving us an online voice. It is for these reasons that Web 2.0 is a powerful force in society today, and has a growing role in academia and libraries.

Web 2.0 is permeating other areas of our lives too. Tivo, the digital video recorder is a great example of the 2.0 mindset. Traditionally, TV provided a package of information. Passive consumers had little flexibility about when or how they watched programs. With TIVO, however, live TV can be paused and shows are automatically recorded. TV companies are giving up control. Similarly, business is becoming more aware of 2.0. Companies used to be strictly hierarchical with all communication strictly monitored. They expected consumer brand loyalty. However, the most flexible businesses are giving up some of that control to enable a two-way conversation between the consumer and the producer. Zappos, the online shoe seller enables every service representative to have as much power to solve customer problems as the CEO. Wordpress, the blogging software, opened up its online support forum. This shows that it has glitches in its software but it also enables a faster response time and glowing testimonials. These examples show that Web 2.0 is changing markets, consumers, employees and companies. For these reasons, web 2.0 is much more than just a tool. I hope that the following columns will show how we can tap this sentiment in Latin American librarianship.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Presidential message...

During the last few weeks, I have received several emails and phone calls from SALALM members wishing to discuss their ideas for the Providence 2010 conference program, and also from others who simply wanted to express that they were glad to learn that SALALM would dedicate a whole conference to examining how recent technological and economic trends are transforming the way in which we make available documentation, information, and an important part of the cultural production from Latin America. To those who contacted me, thank you very much for your interest and support.

One of these callers also recommended stating more clearly to the SALALM membership why I think that this is an important and timely topic. I will follow the advice and be very straightforward.

Just as many SALALM members eloquently expressed during the New Orleans and Berlin conferences, I also am concerned about the potentially adverse effects that recent trends will have on the strength of future Latin American research library collections and, consequently, on Latin American Studies scholarship. New technologies, to be sure, do offer fantastic opportunities in the areas of publishing, scholarly communication and access delivery, among others. But the way in which research libraries - often forced by economic circumstances- are implementing new models of acquiring, processing, reformatting and sharing information may unintentionally produce not only negative, but irreparable consequences that will limit the possibilities for future Latin American Studies research.

For example, in one scenario that was discussed during the Berlin conference, research libraries continue to seek badly needed savings by uncritically adopting new acquisitions models that privilege large book distributors, discourage competition, and leave aside the smaller vendors that cannot afford to absorb new costs. The undesired outcome is the crippling of a bibliographic distribution network that SALALM successfully contributed to develop over several decades. With a diminished network, it becomes increasingly difficult and costly, if not impossible, to acquire the noncommercial, nonmainstream, and marginal materials that can only provide a balanced representation of the multiple perspectives, sectors and voices found across Latin American societies. If that scenario becomes a reality, it would represent a major failure on the part of the research libraries. What can and should we, as an organization and as individuals, do about this?

It really is not a matter of resisting change or of sticking to the practices that we know well. It is a matter of first, assessing both the opportunities and the risks presented by those trends, and then advocating for and putting forward the arguments in favor of the practices and strategies that will ensure that research libraries will continue to support Latin American Studies research well into the future. All of this will require increasing levels of collaboration and dialogue within and beyond SALALM. Hopefully, our 2010 meeting in Providence will serve as a broad forum for moving in that direction.

On a different note, as most of you surely know, SALALM isn’t exactly in great financial shape. To generate some savings, the Executive Board recently accepted a recommendation from the Finance Committee requesting that SALALM ceases to contribute matching funds to the Marietta Daniels Shepard Scholarship Fund. As SALALM’s Treasure Jane Garner explained, the scholarship fund has already reached and exceeded the endowment goal. At this moment, what the School of Information at the University of Texas-Austin (http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/) really needs from SALALM is assistance in finding qualified candidates who can make use of the scholarship. The Marietta Daniels Shepard Scholarship Fund’s objective is to support “a student who is committed to fostering the development of libraries in Latin America and the Caribbean by pursuing a professional career in one or more of the countries of Latin America or the Caribbean.” If you know potential candidates who may benefit from the scholarship, please refer them to UT’s School of Information.

Hasta la próxima!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another Liber update!

At the Revista del Libro breakfast.

I went to Madrid with the express purpose of building both the Catalan and the DVD collection for CU, Boulder; and yes, the irony of looking for Catalan books in the one year that Liber was held in Madrid wasn’t lost on me… The book fair held its usual surprises, however, and I came away armed to the teeth with catalogues and ideas that stretched far beyond my initial goals. For Catalunya, I visited both the Gremi d’editores de Catalunya and the Comunitat Valenciana, among others. At the Gremi I spoke with a vendor who seemed very surprised to see me; he spent a considerable amount of time showing me his extensive website and in particular some beautiful medieval Catalan texts. After the book fair, I visited both the Centro Cultural Blanquerna and the new Madrid branch of La Central. La Blanquerna “tiene por objetivo la difusión de la cultural catalana en Madrid”, part of which is a fabulous bookshop. Unfortunately they don’t currently have an online catalog but they are working on it. La Central, housed in the Reina Sofia art gallery, has three well set out floors, though it also caters to the Madrileño and the art crowd as well as the Catalans. Staff were infinitely more pleasant than the rather antipático crew at la Casa del Libro though…

DVDs were hard to find, as ever, though I managed to raid El Corte Inglés and FNAC before Mark Grover got there (sorry, Mark!) I also risked life and limb along the Gran Vía to reach Ocho y Medio, a shop that is dedicated to books on cinema. I arrived at 4pm, yet, in true Spanish style had to hang around for an hour till they opened; it was worth the wait though to talk to the extremely knowledgeable staff. I headed back via the Librería Juan Rulfo bookshop in Moncloa, who had a good Spanish film exhibition. Lists of titles are being made, and it was great to talk to them; they even gave me a free book for trekking out there in the very warm fall weather!

The book fair was very e-book focused this year; the Publidisa stand caused traffic flow problems every time they gave a presentation, and the ebook panels were standing room only. Ebooks in Spain still seem to be slightly behind US production (The European Kindle was released while we were at Liber) but every publisher that I spoke with at Liber seemed to be very interested in e-book production. So I think it’s a case of: Watch this space!

Alison Hicks
University of Colorado, Boulder

Friday, October 23, 2009

Update from Madrid's Liber 2009

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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Space Still Available for ALA-FIL Pass Program

[Cross-posted from LALA-L]

Dear Librarian,

We still have a few ALA librarian rooms available if you have not applied for the Free Pass and you still want to come to Guadalajara. You need to be an individual member of ALA and be involved in collection development. Airfares are still quite reasonable, but we need to hear from you immediately. The application is herewith attached; please fill out and email it back to me ASAP.

If you have already applied, your application is being processed. Please be patient with us.


David Unger, U.S. Rep
Guadalajara Intl. Book Fair
Division of Humanities NAC 5225
City College of New York
New York, NY 10031
Tel: (212) 650-7925
Fax: (212) 650-7912
filny@aol.com or duy502002@yahoo.com
Exhibition Manager: Veronica Mendoza at veronica.mendoza@fil.com.mx
Rights Center: Pablo de la Vega at pablo.delavega@fil.com.mx

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

About SALALM 2010 conference in Providence, Rhode Island

Dear SALALM colleagues,

Especially for those of you who couldn’t make it to Berlin and therefore missed my introduction to the 2010 conference theme, The Future of Latin American Library Collections and Research: Contributing and Adapting to New Trends in Research Libraries (Providence, Rhode Island, July 23-27, 2010), please visit http://dl.lib.brown.edu/salalm/.

You’ll find there more information about the conference theme and additional details, including a pre-conference workshop at the John Carter Brown Library on the history of the book in Mexico. Patricia Figueroa, our host at Brown University and head of the Local Arrangements Committee, will send more information about the workshop in the near future.

As you will notice, the SALALM 2010 conference will depart from the usual practice of organizing the theme around an academic topic or discipline. Instead, the meeting will serve as a broad forum for examining, debating and learning about technical and theoretical aspects related to the complex trends that are transforming the way in which Latin American research library collections are developed and the manner in which research libraries provide access to the region’s documentation.

The objective is to bring to the next level an essential conversation that was initiated in 2008 at Tulane University by David Block’s presentation of his paper Where Are We?; Where We May Be Going; What Will We Do There (available at http://hdl.handle.net/1813/10827). Ultimately, I hope that 2010 conference serves to foster the development of ideas and strategies that can be adopted by SALALM, its members, and other important stakeholder in order to both adapt to trends and shape outcomes.

To achieve this, I am asking SALALM committee chairs in particular and the membership in general to start considering and preparing substantial contributions for the program in the form of panels, roundtable discussions and workshops. As you do this, keep in mind that this is an excellent opportunity for producing high quality papers that might serve as documentation or reference for the broader library world. This is also a good opportunity to rethink and refocus, if appropriate, the work conducted within committees.

Even though an official press release and a call for papers have not been sent out yet, feel free to contact me to discuss preliminary ideas and potential proposals. I am looking forward to hear from many of you.

Muchas gracias y hasta pronto.

From Berlin 54 to Providence 55

Wow! What a wonderful conference SALALM 54 was! My sincerest congratulations and gratitude to Past President Pamela Graham, to the Local Arrangements Committee chaired by Peter Altekrüger, to the Ibero-American Institute, and to the SALALM Secretariat for organizing a truly memorable event. What I appreciated the most from an overall solid and stimulating conference program was that it offered an excellent opportunity to engage the work and perspectives of colleagues and scholars from across the Atlantic.

Naturally, each participant experienced the conference according to his or her particular interests and time constraints, but I suspect that I would not be mistaken by claiming that most of us found the keynote address by Professor Ludwig Ellenberg, German Geographers in Latin America, to be one of the conference highlights. I am also sure that, for those of us who traveled to Berlin from the Americas, it was a pleasure and an enriching experience to count with the participation of numerous members of the Red Europea de Información y Documentación sobre América Latina (REDIAL). I am confident that the communication and the collaboration between the members of REDIAL and SALALM will increase thanks to relations established during the conference, including the signing of a formal collaboration agreement between both organizations.

I shall not leave unmentioned the truly special social and cultural events to which we were lavishly treated, including the guided tours of the Ibero-American Institute and of the exhibition on Robert Lehmann-Nitsche and Argentina, the spectacular boat tour through Berlin, and the Libreros Reception at the Gemäldegalerie. Thank you!

I would also like to use this space to personally thank a small group of librarians and libreros, including S. Lief Adelson, Darlene Hull, Angela J. Kinney, Nerea Llamas, Holly Ackerman, and Linda Russo, for participating in a panel that I organized and moderated, titled Adaptation and Innovation: Libraries and Libreros on Collections, Technical Services and the Economic Crisis. All of them offered thoughtful reports and/or reflections on the impact that the recent economic crisis is having or is likely to have on their areas of work, and on how their libraries or businesses are adapting to rapidly changing circumstances. Even though their perspectives and personal views differed, sometimes markedly, I found it quite revealing that all of them suggested that innovative forms of cooperation are necessary, and that successful adaptation will require a collective effort.

From the moment that I started putting the panel together back in the spring, I had been nervously hoping that it would produce a discussion as lively and serious as the one generated last year at the New Orleans conference by David Blocks paper Where Are We?; Where We May Be Going; What Will We Do There (available at http://hdl.handle.net/1813/10827). I was pleased to see that the panel was very well attended and that it also provoked many thoughtful reactions and ideas from an engaged audience. I think that it served, not only as a continuation of the previous year’s discussion, but also as a way of preparing our mindsets for the SALALM 2010 conference.

In order to bring what I consider to be an essential conversation to the next level, next year we will have a departure, or a hiatus, from the usual practice of organizing the conference theme around an academic topic or discipline. Instead, the meeting will serve as a broad forum for examining, debating, and learning about practical and theoretical aspects related to new trends affecting academic and research libraries. These trends, most of us probably agree, will have systematic implications on the way in which Latin American research library collections are built and the manner in which research libraries provide access to the region’s documentation and creative expression production. The aim of the conference will then be to foster the development of ideas and strategies which could be adopted by SALALM, its members, and other important stakeholders in order to both adapt and shape outcomes.

SALALM LV, The Future of Latin American Library Collections and Research: Contributing and Adapting to New Trends in Research Libraries, will take place at the Providence Biltmore Hotel in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, near Brown University, on July 23-27, 2010.
I am very excited about taking on the responsibility of organizing a successful conference and consider myself fortunate to be collaborating with Patricia Figueroa, our colleague from Brown University and head of the Local Arrangements Committee. Patricia initiated preparations for the conference months ago and has already made available a conference website at http://dl.lib.brown.edu/salalm/. Even though it is still a little early, please review it and start familiarizing with the conference theme and other important details.

We will be sending much more information about SALALM 55 soon. I promise!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Andanzas at the 2009 Bogota Book Fair

Sunday, August 9th
I had planned to attend Bogota’ Book Fair as it was being held at the same time as a conference on Iberoamerican University Presses , where I had managed to get myself invited as a “ponente.”

As I waited to board my flight in Los Angeles, I looked over the reading materials I had gathered for the long overnight trip (past issues of the New York Times Magazine & Book Review…). One of the other pieces was a very timely front page story on ebooks which I plan to highlight in my “ponencia.” Later I will find myself being cited after my presentation…but I am getting too far ahead… too soon.

Monday, August 10th
The flight arrived “sin novedad,” other than it was 6 in the morning and we have just been welcomed in that clear Colombian Spanish to “Santa Fe de Bogota, la Atenas de America.” It’s been more than 4 years since my last visit and I noticed several new buildings that have sprung up along the road from the airport. Soon we go by the much transited street with Transmilenio buses. The mass transit project had recently received good press and is being emulated in other cities. One of the “taxistas” in Santiago had noted last year that people should come to see how it was operating in the Chilean capital so they could learn “como NO se debe hacer.”

Later in the day a Stanford student doing field work in Colombia called it “transmilleno” as local bogotanos seem to refer to the perpetually over-crowded buses. The next day, my driver (sharing a bit of “taxista” wisdom) had his own theory: it’s a government ploy, have few buses that are always full to make it look good. According to him they should build a metro, adding that any comparable big city had one. Bogota, he felt, could not claim any share of “modernidad” without an underground mass transit system.

The hotel is located in the Zona Rosa, half way between downtown and the Corferias section where the 22nd International Bogota Book Fair is being held (August 12-23). This time the fair will not compete with Buenos Aires and the hope is to attract many of those Southern Cone publishers that could not attend in the past. Mexico will be the featured country. In spite of initial press reports, neither Carlos I (Fuentes) nor Carlos II (Monsivais) will be attending. But, again, I am getting ahead of myself.

It’s past noon and I get call from Arte Dos Grafico inviting me to lunch. They are familiar to SALALMistas from our Cartagena meeting in 2003 and I had reconnected with them earlier in the year at the 2nd Biannual Codex Book Fair in Berkeley. They will host book artists from Germany and Argentina in an effort to highlight the book arts at the fair.

For dinner, I will meet a friend from my graduate school days in Wisconsin, an anthropologist well known for her pioneering work on violence in war-torn Colombia. Her next project, entitled “almas en pena” is almost "garciamarquesco" as it focuses on the guerrilla soldiers, some of whom are afraid of ghosts. Yes the “fantasmas, o almas en pena” from the many mass killings the country has endured for more than 40 years now.

Tuesday, August 11th
A horrible headache awoke me at 3 in the morning, probably a combination of the altitude (8678 feet) and a glass of red wine during dinner the previous night. I opt for reading the local daily and catch an interesting article on the most trusted/respected entities in the City of Bogota according to a recent survey, the local Bibliored comes in 2nd place, and it is no surprise given that in 2002 the library network was recognized by the Gates Foundation for its innovative way of providing access to information technology.

But I am scheduled for an 8:30 morning meeting with staff from the office of Libros Andinos, our approval vendor for Colombia and much of the Andean region. Having identified a gap in non-governmental organization (NGO) coverage the plan is to visit some local entities and try to fill that void as part of our cooperative collecting agreement with UC-Berkeley.

The first stop is the Bogota Office for the UN. The librarian, perhaps somewhat perplexed by our visit, nonetheless explains the purpose of the Colombian office and the scope of the resources available at their library. While much of it is available online, there are local publications that seem to elude the mandate of their local collecting. It is that “grey” area that is equally important to our collection.

The excursion continued to the other end of town, at the headquarters for Colombia Diversa, a local NGO working with LGBT issues which has just been noted for its “good practices” at an International Conference on LGBT Human Rights.

The group’s leader had been told of my visit by our mutual friends from Arte Dos Grafico and awaited us. After explaining one of my many roles as a librarian striving to document the publishing output of civil society groups she brought out copies of several of the reports they have issued in the past. Most of it is available on line at their site (Proyectos > derechos humanos > informes):

*Informe Derechos Humanos 2006-2007
*Informe de Derechos Humanos 2005
*Voces Excluidas (OCLC: 72805773 / 318282587
*Diversidad sexual en la escuela: dinámicas pedagógicas para enfrentar la homofobia

I asked about their source of funding and she noted that at present it came from some progressive European groups. Later on I wondered what would happen to those documents online if their funding ends. Do we run and print out the PDFs while they are up? UT-Austin has been harvesting official publications on the web from several government ministries, but I am not sure if a similar project for NGOs is being considered, certainly a worthy effort.

There was one more group to visit before lunch but the adept taxi driver and our guide from Libros Andinos could not find the address we had been given. I had another commitment and we all concluded: “se hizo el esfuerzo.”

We finished just on time for my lunch meeting back at the Arte Dos Grafico workshop. The 2 book artists from Argentina have arrived and the afternoon turned out to be a “gran deleite visual” as each one explained the meaning of their visual work. One of them, a book editor from Buenos Aires, remarked that he preferred no comments, feeling that if something needed to be explained, as in the text of novel, then the artist/writer had not done his/her work. This sentiment was enough to provide competing comments that lasted until dinner, when we were treated to a delicious soup to end the long day. My humble contribution was to suggest ways of marketing their artist books at various book fairs/conferences, including our very own 2010 SALALM conference.

Wednesday, August 12
Although I have gone over the notes for my presentation, I discovered I brought a printout of an older version of the power point. At least the one in my flash drive is current.

The opening of the Conference on Iberoamerican University Presses had an almost surreal start. It is customary at these events to sing the Colombian national anthem but the recording did not work. Not to be deterred, the panel’s leader decided to carry on with the song, without music. Later on, at exactly noon, and in the middle of a presentation, a recording of the anthem starts to play, catching us all by surprise. But we are reminded that by decree, Colombia’s national anthem is played at noon and at 6pm every day at public functions.

The key note speaker’s flight is running late and he has not arrived so we are given an early coffee break. When he does arrive, he does not disappoint. The “ponencia magistral” takes a refreshing anecdotal mode of presenting that would differ from some of the most formal papers. One of the points highlighted is the role of the university press at time when discussion of e-books is ever present. He encourages publishers to see it as an opportunity to reach a public whose reading habits are changing. Those remarks would frame my presentation later in the day when I will face an after lunch lethal time as a well as a jack-hammering noise from the construction crews who struggle to add the last finishing touches to the space where Mexico’s and Colombia’s president will attend the opening ceremony. In the end, I prevailed as I kept raising the level of my voice and was happy to see not a single snoozing head. It could have been the noise from next door or just the “colorful” images accompanying my power point slides.

An earlier version of the presentation was included in the conference papers.

Relieved that my presentation was over, I will spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the book fair and run into several of the other SALALMistas whose visit has been sponsored by Corferias, the entity organizing the book event. Attending were Hortensia Calvo (Tulane); Teresa Chapa (UNC-Chapel Hill); Edmundo Flores (Library of Congress); Martha Mantilla (Pittsburg); Phil Macleod (Emory) and Lesbia Varona (Miami). Among the vendors present were Alfonso Vijil (Libros Latinos); Howard and Beverly (Howard Karno Books) and local dealer Noe Herrera (Libros de Colombia). Alfredo Montalvo (Libros Andinos) would attend the following week.

I will miss the opening ceremony where Colombia’s president was interrupted by a heckler who urged him to reconsider plans to give US military bases in Colombia. Hortensia Calvo was seated within range of the president’s opponent and appeared in an online photo the next day. Certainly more than my 5 minutes of audible fame I could claim from the 2 university radio station interviews after my presentation earlier in the day.

Thursday, August 13

Before heading to the Corferia fairgrounds I catch a ride with SALALM dealer Alfonso Vijil for a visit to Bogota’s legendary Libreria Lerner. As the taxi made its way through the narrow and crowded downtown streets, I noticed an image in one of the walls “que vuelva el amor a las calles.” It seemed familiar and indeed it should have been. I had seen it the day before in a book just released, Amor a la colombiana and which had been reviewed the previous day in Colombia’s leading daily El Tiempo.

On my first trip to Lerner’s in 2003 I spent several hours taking copious notes of interesting journal titles and then lost the notebook. This morning, pressed for time, we could only spend 2 hours, which was just enough to jot down a few titles as well as asking the Lerner staff to run a report of the sections on Blacks in Colombia, Colombian Music, and Violence in Colombia, all very timely topics for our collections. I can share with any one interested that LONG list.

For recent journals, here’s a brief listing and the new/recent issues I consulted:

*Actualidad Etnica (ISSN: 2145-0242). Issue 1/2009
*Polemikus (ISSN: 2027-081X). Issue 1/2008
*(Pensamiento) (Palabra) y Obra (ISSN: 2011-804X). Issue 1/2009

Now I had the rest of the afternoon to explore the book fair. Unlike others familiar to us all, there are several “pabellones” housed in separate buildings. The one for “Edicion Universitaria” was a very logical stop for SALALM librarians and vendors. Materials for academic libraries were also available at the upper level of the pavilion that included publishers from “Empresas Publicas” and “Gobernaciones.” Teresa Chapa and I conversed with the representatives from the “Procuraduria General de la Nacion” and they gave us some sample publications when we explained to them the work we did in our libraries.

Here we also found a collective stand of independent publishers, REIC: Red de editorials independientes de Colombia . One that caught my attention not only for its catchy name, La Iguana Ciega but also for the list of “novedades” on display, covering a variety of interesting titles: Cantadoras Afrocolombianas de Bullerengue, Jazz en Colombia, and Locas de felicidad: Crónicas travestis y otros relatos.

It is gratifying to see that independent publishers are now coalescing in an effort to compete with the media conglomerates. In the last few years Spain has seen Bibliodiversidad and now there is Observatorio Iberoamericano de la Edición Independiente which joins similar groups like Editores Independientes. The city of Buenos Aires has also included independent publishers as part of its “industrias creativas.” Mexico’s Alianza de Editoriales Mexicanas Independientes made a strong showing at Guadalajara’s 2008 FIL.

At the “pabellon intenacional” I found a recent Atlas Electoral de Colombia and a revised (6ht edition, 2008) of the Atlas Basico de Colombia at the Imprenta Nacional booth, which complemented related titles Teresa Chapa and I had discovered the following day at Consulturia para los Derechos Humanos and the Cuadernos de Cine Colombiano (OCLC: 56332662 / 22196442) . But the issues on display were not for sale. By now I have accumulated more than I could fit into my suitcase but fellow SALALM librero Noe Herrera offers to include it all with the next shipment of Colombian journals for our library.

I have one more day left (tomorrow) and I want to catch a movie that has been getting good reviews. It means leaving the fairgrounds soon to avoid the rush hour traffic. The film is playing at the Centro Andino shopping center, only 2 blocks from the hotel. It appears the general public is starting to arrive so it becomes a very logical farewell from the many books on display.

The film, “La pasion de Gabriel” seems to be the only Spanish-language option currently in “cartelera.” It does not disappoint to experience on screen the life of priest mindful of social justice ideals and in love with a woman. Somewhere in a lost corner of Colombia, Gabriel is in the midst of the ongoing conflict between guerrillas and the army. In the end no one is spared critique as the Church, the Army, and the Guerrillas appear to care little for those caught in the middle of the “conflicto armado” Colombia currently faces.

I get back to the hotel and end up writing down titles of DVDs of Colombian cinema that Teresa Chapa and Alfonso Vijil have purchased. Of the 40 something films, we own only a handful in VHS which we received as a donation from the Ministry of Culture several years ago as part of the “La Maleta de Películas Colombianas” that was distributed through out the country.

Friday, August 14
It’s the last day and as always I am hoping for an extra 24 hours so I can visit the new Museo del Oro and La Candelaria, Bogota’s historical downtown. But I have agreed to meet my anthropologist friend at the fairgrounds and forgo that possibility.

I do a last minute visit through several stands to make sure I have collected publisher’s catalogs and verify titles I could not decipher from my notes. I convince Teresa Chapa to accompany to the Arte Dos Grafico booth as I know there are some artist books she will like. Right on target, she acquires several and this time we don’t fight over them as we did several years ago at the Belleza y Felicidad gallery in Buenos Aires.

While browsing through some of the limited edition titles, some one asked if Adan Griego was around. I thought it would be another radio interview to continue an additional 5 minutes of fame. But it was a friend of my anthropologist lunch date. She was running late and wanted me to meet her friend from CERLALC, one of the groups sponsoring the conference on university publishing in Latin America. I wanted to thank him and since he had missed my presentation we were not able to meet at the conference. He was also part of the group that has sponsored our visit to the book fair and I thanked him profusely, yet again. Not to miss an opportunity, I made my SALALM chamber of commerce infomercial!

We did a last minute visit to the pavilion where Mexico was showcasing an array of cultural artifacts, not to mention a very large space displaying a wide selection of its varied publishing output as the fair’s featured country. But it was time to leave before the Friday rush hour.

Back at the hotel, it was the usual packing, trying to get everything to fit in the carry-on suitcase and find something to read for the long (8 hours) flight to California. I selected the sample journals I had picked up at Lerner’s and a copy of Locas de Felicidad only to find out that SALALM’s keynote speaker (Jaime Manrique) from the Santo Domingo conference was thanked in the book’s preface.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dispatches from Germany

Dispatches from Germany
So far we feel right at home. The luggage came off the conveyer; the Budget rental car desk was handy and efficient; the car park opened directly to an expressway system that seems to go everywhere. But, wait, wind farms dot every horizon, their giant propellers slowly turning in the breeze. And there is no urban sprawl. Grain fields and pasturage reach right up to most city limits; even Berlin has yet to grow past its perimeter highway.

My wife and I are beginning our trip with a visit to an AFS student whom we hosted in Ithaca. Ten years later he is a medical student in Greiswald, on the Baltic coast. So we spent yesterday driving the diagonal from Frankfurt to the far northeast of the country. Right now we’re trying to shake the effects of jetlag and too many hours behind the wheel. Before I close this first entry, some basics.
“A” is for autobahns, Germany’s unbelievable superhighway network. They’re an Interstate system, only maintained, and along with the Volkswagen, Adolph Hitler’s only positive legacy. Although speed limits, 120 km/hour, are posted, don’t even think of getting into the passing lane at a speed less than 85 mph and don’t stay there unless you are willing to drive a hundred. “B” is for bicycle; every man, woman and child has one. Germans ride them all over, most without helmets. “C,” well, I can’t think of a “c” word now except “cansado.” But this will pass.

Not wanting to endanger my retired status, I have stayed away from most of the SALALM, but I will serve as your roving reporter, offering updates from venues outside the IAI and the Martim.
I am lodging in a part of the city that was off limits when SALALM met here in 1986. In those days the city lived in the shadow of The Wall. Visitors were never far from it, and Berliners lived with the daily reality that they were never far from freedom or oppression. The Wall is down now, chewed into tiny bits recycled as road fill, but its legacy will be a long one. Even with the incredible reconstruction of the city strange anomalies remain—tram tracks ending in nowhere mark the route of the wall. Enormous apartment blocks still dot the horizon, and no amount of paint and plaster will erase the memory of who built them. There is, apparently, a certain nostalgia for the good old days among some former East Germans. But I suspect that this is disingenuous. No one would want to return to a time when neighbors spied on neighbors, when consumer goods were frightfully scarce and when families were forcibly separated by the force of politics.

Since my last post, I have thought of some “c” words. The first is “c”rane, the tall metal ones. They are everywhere, even in these tough economic times, rebuilding the city. The second is “children.” They’re everywhere. Apparently, Berlin has the highest birthrate in Europe. I’ve amused myself by photographing children in strollers.

No one spending time here would fail to notice what a melting pot Berlin has become. The Turkish community is to Berlin what the Mexican community is to Los Angeles, the largest outside their countries of origin. Yesterday we were chauffeured by a Palestinian from Gaza and served by a Kosovar waiter. Each was expecting a child, the Kosovar, twins.

“D” is for dogs; Berlin is full of them, and in a strange contradiction of German rectitude, Berliners habitually walk them off-leash. Giants and toys, riding in bicycle baskets and trotting beside runners, sitting under restaurant tables, openly defecating in parks, all well-fed and collared, dogs are everywhere.
As another legacy of the Cold War, Berlin is filled with what are now overlapping cultural institutions. There are doppelganger opera companies, national libraries, and symphonies currently living separate lives but headed toward shotgun mergers. What brings this to mind is Sunday night’s trip to the Opera Komishe, a beautiful 19th century hall in the former East Berlin. Six SALAMists and dependents went to hear Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann. I am a great fan of the music—it lives on my iPod—but I had never seen it performed, and I was a little let down. The staging combined 1930s Weimar decadence with gangster Chicago and Olympia first appears as a dominatrix. Get the picture? I considered closing my eyes to the spectacle, but with a full-day’s touristing under my belt, that would have meant nodding off.
Another cultural duplication, if culture can ever be redundant, is Berlin’s vast array of museums. In the partition, the Commies got Museum Insul, three 19th century buildings dedicated to the glories of antiquity and German science. We saw the famous reconstructions of the Pergamon altar and Babylon’s gate, excavated and removed by German archaeologists nearly 150 years ago. The audio guide, recorded in rich, Oxfordian English studiously avoided the issue of cultural patrimony, but you have to wonder. On the western side of town, corporate and individual donors created new spaces for their collections, among the most notable is the Bergurren in Charlottenburg, with its remarkable collection of Picassos.

“E” ist für eis, cream, that is. It’s been hot in Berlin, and ice cream is just the ticket. It’s served everywhere and consumed copiously especially by children (see “c,” above). I have sampled widely and narrowed my favorites to the many flavors of chocolate concocted for German palates and strawberry a fruit now in season.

Last night the local organizers and book dealers really outdid themselves at the reception. The venue was nothing less than the Gemaldegalerie, a museum lit only by filtered sunlight. Here Berliners have lovingly reunited a collection of medieval and early modern paintings that were separated for half a century by politics. We marveled at the display of so much richness in a single, rather small, space.
The weather for the conference has been a mix of sun, clouds and rain, but on Tuesday, the haze lifted to reveal the east side of the Brandenburg Gate as a rich blonde-colored rectangle, topped by the Reichstag’s glittering dome. Nearby the Monument to European Jews, several hundred black granite rectangles aligned to suggest a cemetery cast dark shadows across its grounds.

Berlin must have one of the most efficient transportation systems on the planet. Bicycles roll along sidewalk lanes created for them. Electric trolleys work the crowds in East Berlin; buses and the Metro (UBahn) serve the West. Mass transit is supplemented by a ubiquitous fleet of taxis, mostly capacious Mercedes sedans. My wife and I have learned to reach most of the sites of interest by mounting two nearly-connected systems, the M-1 trolley that runs from the North Mitte to Humboldt University and the #100 bus that begins in the Museum Insul and runs along west toward Tiergarten. Somehow Berlin has also discovered an alchemy that makes rush hour disappear. A cab driver offered a not-altogether-satisfactory felicity about staggering office hours.

I can’t help but reflect on the passage of time between the SALALMs of 1986 and 2009. In those 13 years the city has undergone a remarkable transformation, reflecting the reunion of the modern German state. What the tourist sees is a tribute to ingenuity and determination, and the transformation is ongoing. Visitors in the coming years will see even more of the ongoing project to make Berlin a single city, but don’t wait for the next SALALM!
Your faithful correspondent has now left Berlin. I’m writing from the Rhineland.

Before I sign off, I want to add one more “a,” to my alphabetical list. Altakrueger and his staff did a fantastic job. Thanks, so much.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Looking For (Latin American) Art Books in Berlin (July 8, 2009)

After the Townhall Meeting we had one more coffee break to enjoy. We were reminded (and invited) to return for the Executive Board Meeting where important matters are always discussed, often times it lasts as long as the LAMP meetings of the first night!

But, I managed to escape (unnoticed) and wonder off to visit an art bookshop that I had seen on Sunday but it was closed at the time. It was quite big and I was not going to miss this chance. One of the books I saw on display that day was not even listed in OCLC's Worldcat (Dream[s?] of Solentiname), so there must be other treasures there. And indeed there were, here's a list that might be of interest to us all:

Gibson, R. (2005). Brazil: As origins visuais da cultura. Bologna: Damiani.

Griffioen, P. (1999). Cuba: Doblegada pero no quebrada = gebogen niet gebroken = bent not broken. Amsterdam: Focus Pub.

Miller, S. (2008). Imagine Cuba: 1999-2007. Milano: Charta.

Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Peter und Irene Ludwig Stiftung, & Muzeĭ Li︠u︡dviga. (2002). Kunst aus Kuba: Sammlung Ludwig = Art from Cuba : the Ludwig Collection. [Bad Breisig]: Palace Editions.

Testino, M. (2007). Lima, Peru: Featuring the work of over 100 Peruvian artists. Bologna: Damiani.

Lancrenon, S., & Marzloff, S. (2008). Cuba libre Emmanuelle Béart. München: Schirmer Mosel.

Fabry, A. (2008). Fotografía latinoamericana: Colección Anna Gamazo de Abelló : una selección = a selection : 1895-2008. México, D.F.: : Editorial RM.

Álvarez, A. (2008). Citámbulos Mexico City: Journey to the Mexican megalopolis = Viaje a la megalópolis mexicana = Reise in die mexikanische Magalopole. Berlin: Jovis.

Mossinger, Ingrid, Flieg, Hans, Merklinger, Martina, & Metz, Katharina. (2009). Hans Gunter Flieg Documentary Photography from Brazil 1940-1970. Kerber Verlag.

Kulturhuset (Stockholm, Sweden). (2008). Nuevas historias: A new view of Spanish photography and video art. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz.

Venancio Filho, P., & Gunnarsson, A. (2008). Time & place: Rio de Janeiro 1956-1964. [Stockholm]: Moderna Museet.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Collection Development Strategies in Smaller Latin American Collections

I just got out of the panel we'd all been waiting for, "Getting More from Less: Collection Development Strategies in Smaller Latin American Collections," and it did not disappoint. Orchid organized a great panel with Jesus Alonso-Regalado presenting on creative ways of collecting via book fairs and collaborative projects, Agnieszka Czeblakow presenting on Emory University's experiences using the OCLC collection analysis tool to help fill gaps in Latin American History, and Linda Russo from Latin American Book Store giving the vendor's perspective on collection development challenges given the current budget situation.

Most of us know Jesus as being extraordinarily creative in his work at SUNY Albany, following his innovations such as Librarian with a Latte, and so I looked forward to his presentation in particular: "Enriching Collections with Limited funds: Getting the Most out of Book Fair Acquisitions and Cooperative Projects." After seeing how his pre-planning for the Guadalajara Book Fair resulted in more dollar savings than represented by his entire Latin American Studies collections budget, I highly recommend that you all speak to him before going yourselves! I know that I will! Jesus also discussed the results of a collaborative collection development project between SUNY Albany and SUNY Binghamton for Puerto Rican materials. Those of you in LANE have heard about this project before, and it was good to see some additional data about how the project has continued, even after Martha Kelehan's move to Tufts from SUNY Binghamton. The project has resulted in the combined acquisition of 33% of all Puerto Rican monographs offered by Barlovento.

I was also excited to see how Phil McLeod and Agnieszka Czeblakow at Emory successfully used the new OCLC collection analysis tool to generate lists of materials that had not been acquired by the university, using these lists to ask for purchase recommendations from faculty. The work appeared to be tedious, but ultimately worthwhile. It was suggested that bibliographers enlist some assistants to help with the analysis for a project of this type.

Finally, Linda Russo gave an overview of the changes in collection development strategies among libraries that she has seen as a vendor. Particularly helpful were her comments on the difficulties of collecting for universities given the difference between academic dialogues taking place in North America and Europe and those taking place Latin America and the Caribbean. The materials published there do not necessarily correspond to those materials desired by faculty.

Overall a great panel, and I look forward to reading Gayle's write-up in the newsletter.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

SALALM’s Opening Day

The opening reception for SALALM’s annual conference in Berlin saw about 15-20 attendees from the previous meeting in 1986 also held in Berlin.

Some things have not changed much since then: the LAMP meeting lasted more than 2 hours. But other changes have taken place: there was no forum to discuss emerging technologies and now the Electronic Resources Subcommittee has become one of the most popular gatherings on the 1st day of the conference.

Victor Federico Torres (University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras) received the Jose Toribio Medina Award, given each year by SALALM to the best reference work published by one of its members.

Attending were also about 20 members from REDIAL, the European counterpart to SALALM which had its origins at the 1986 meeting when colleagues from Europe saw the need to have a forum for Latin American Studies information professionals to exchange ideas. REDIAL was celebrating its 20th anniversary and its “Asamblea” coincided with SALALM’s annual meeting.

At a joint afternoon session more than 30 members from each group discussed possible ways of cooperating (both formal and informal) in areas of shared concerns: providing access to information from/about Latin America in all its multiple formats.

The day ended with the “Fiesta de Libreros” held at the Gemaldegalerie where we had the run of the museum and were able to enjoy multilingual guided tours of the varied rich visual treasures of the Old Masters Gallery.

The traditional “Rifa de Enlace” was also held at the Fiesta gathering where many coveted “recuerdos” from Latin America were raffled away. The many souvenirs were donated by dealers as a way to raise monies for the Enlace Fund. Since 1986 more than 60 professionals from Latin America have been invited to take part in SALALM thanks to this endeavor which is about to celebrate its silver anniversary.