Wednesday, May 6, 2009

SALALM Members at the 2009 Buenos Aires Book Fair (April 20-May 11, 2009)

This year saw a small but active group of SALALMistas at the 35th International Buenos Aires Book Fair. Teresa Chapa (University of North Carolina) and Adan Griego (Stanford) retraced their adventure to Libreria Asunto Impreso. Unlike last year, Adan was not climbing up ladders or fighting with fellow SALALMistas for copies of books, as was the case at the Belleza y Felicidad Gallery a few years ago during a visit to the Eloisa Cartonera book project. He did ask to un-wrap a few art books he bought for his own collection at home. Not sure why ALL the books were wrapped.

After some "comida casera" in the neighborhood, the adventurous librarians headed to Papelera Palermo in search of some artist books, but the fine arts press side of the bookstore is no longer in operation. So a visit to La Boutique del Libro bookshop was a welcome stop to end the afternoon. The bookstore's founder had just been honored the night before as the "librero del año" by Book Fair organizers.

Angela Carreño (New York University) visited the collective stand of academic presses and probably by the time she got to the combined stand for cultural journals there were some gaps since Teresa Chapa had already acquired complete sets of several titles. Gata Flora, Nomada, Otra Parte, Ojos Crueles, Todo es Historia, Las Ranas,
TDI: Teatro Diseño Inovación
, and Planeta Urbano stood out among those on display.

Not all were book adventures, some were almost out of a Larra text: Phill Macleod (Emory) experienced a "vuelva usted mañana" moment at the American Express office in his attempt to secure funds and be able to purchase materials at the Fair. But the next day he was eagerly acquiring books for his library....after he spoke to the manager, perhaps?

SALALM vendors were present as well. Alfonso Vijil was seen hauling a large suitcase full of books. Luis Retta and Marcelo Garcia Cambeiro were spotted having a coffee…perhaps discussing upcoming budget cuts from their US customers while Alvaro Risso stood guard at the Camara del Libro de Uruguay stand. Nicolas and Anna Rossi, Danilo Alvero, Linda Russo and Carlos Castellanos explored the many stands to catch any "novedades" being launched at the Fair this year.

Also in attendance were several Reforma colleagues from public libraries in San Antonio, San Francisco, Oakland, District of Columbia, Redwood City (CA), Chicago, Los Angeles and Brooklyn. The visits were made possible with support from the Fundación el Libro, and the Fundación Exportar.

There were many other panels scheduled to coincide with the Fair. By accident I walked into a “mesa redonda” on the Google Book Search Project, a similar discussion the previous year had a SRO audience but this time it was less than ½ full. Perhaps some of the same points had already been addressed in the past few days at 3rd Meeting of Latin American Book Dealers. Nonetheless, it proved to be quite a lively discussion. One of the speakers (from a regional academic press) had given all its content to Google with no consultation from the authors. A legal scholar from the University of Buenos Aires in the audience argued that such action was a clear violation of intellectual property laws. Meanwhile, the panelist from Google re-iterated (more than once) that the content resided in a very secure Google server not on the Web for all the see/read/download.

The previous day this same room had experienced an overflow crowd that would have violated many a building fire code as eager attendees to Argentina’s Library Association Conference (ABGRA) had come to listen to presentations entitled: Servicios,Tecnología y Acceso a la Información . The topics covered locally developed innovative ways of providing services (book renewals via a cell phone) and one on Information Architecture by a young and dynamic presenter sponsored by the US Embassy in Argentina, the type of cultural diplomacy our country needs to continue supporting.

As in previous years, librarians from the United States participated in the ABGRA Conference. Fellow Reformista Alvaro Sanabria (San Francisco Public Library) talked about how the SFPL system has developed its Spanish library collections and the multiple services it provides to users.

This time I presented to a group of school librarians: "El usuario que viene: un acercamiento a ésta nueva generación digital." The talk was well received and I am sure other talented SALAMISTAS can contribute presentations to future ABGRA meetings as Paloma Celis Carbajal (University of Wisconsin), Anne Barnhart (UC Santa Barbara), and Patricia Figueroa (Brown) did last year or as Carlos Delgado (UC Berkeley) did for several years. ¡ANIMENSE!, el mundo es ancho, y no tan ajeno!`