LIBER 2008

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LIBER 2008 Report

Saturday, October 4th
I have spent most of the day in the basement of the Berkana Book Shop uploading images of book covers and posting them in the LASA Sexualities Section space I created in Facebook earlier in the summer. A friend asked what had caused my “ataque de arrebato” as I did not realize that the more than 80 members were receiving an update every time I added a new image!
Hoping to take a break, I decided at the last minute to visit the Reina Sofia Museum and was joined by Lawrence Schimel, a New York writer based in Madrid who has met several SALALM members and probably knows more about our organization than he cares to admit. By the time we arrived it was almost closing time so I headed for the Museum’s bookstore which was partly “en obras” the previous year.
I immediately start jotting down titles and a few stand out as not familiar and turn out to be no that well represented in OCLC or show few holding libraries:
  • Madrid : historia de la fotografía (OCLC: 60372971)
  • Guía de Madrid : La Belle Epoque (OCLC: 29616649)
  • Madrid, 1931-1939 : Segunda República y guerra civil (OCLC: 254923307)
  • Madrid, 1939-1950 : la posguerra (OCLC: 255581483)
Others appear to be art exhibition catalogs, which often don’t go through the usual commercial distribution channels
  • El retrato moderno en Espana (OCLC: 190790339)
  • España: arte español 1957-2007 (not yet in OCLC)
  • Arte Emergente en España (OCLC: 85534946)
There are also some Latin American-related titles:
  • ¡Cuba! Arte y Historia de 1868 hasta hoy (the Spanish version of the 2008 Montreal art exhibition catalog)
  • Teatro de titeres en Hispanoamerica (OCLC: 174803020)
  • Juegos de manos : antología de la poesía hispanoamericana de mitad de siglo XX (1000+pp, OCLC: 233136147)
  • Arte al límite (art journal from Chile, OCLC: 62864749)
Sunday October 5th
Today I am determined to go out to the Plaza Mayor and partake of some of the beautiful fall sunny weather Madrid is enjoying. The locale is quite a popular tourist attraction; the City’s old section has evolved from a medieval market place to one for festivities, bullfights and even macabre executions at the height of the Inquisition.
The night before I had seen some of those same buildings in the movie Sangre de Mayo just released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the French executions so vividly portrayed in Goya’s painting “Los fusilamientos del 3 de mayo.” Ironically, the famous Spanish artist is barely noted in the movie that is based on one of the Episodios Nacionales by that literary giant of 19th century Spanish literature: Benito Perez Galdos. The two hour film epic was not kindly received by critics, which was in part the fault of more than 15 million Euros excessively spent by Madrid’s regional conservative government, prompting the daily El Pais to note: “Inversión gigante, taquilla ínfima.”
Monday, October 6th
I will spend most of the day visiting the National Library, the Cervantes Institute and a few hotels as part of the preparations for a possible Western European Studies Section (WESS) Conference in 2010.
This being my last night in Madrid, I catch a late showing of Los girasoles ciegos based on the 2004 best seller by Alfonso Mendez (the book has just been released in English as Blind Sunflowers). It revisits the Civil War, still ever so present in the national discourse with the debate on the 2007 Ley de la Memoria Historica, which the BBC reported denounces "...the use of violence to impose political views," and repeatedly describes the Franco regime as a "dictatorship." It will be Spain’s official entry for this year’s Hollywood Oscar competition, surpassing Sangre de Mayo.
Tuesday, October 7
I have taken an early flight into Barcelona via Spainair’s “puente aereo” and spent 90 minutes going through most of the terminal as the gate changed several times. I wonder how many of the passengers remembered that earlier in the year the airline had a devastating crash on the runway in Madrid’s airport. Perhaps I should have tried the new fast train AVE but prices were not as accessible as I thought.
Today is the opening ceremony for LIBER, Spain’s main annual book festival that alternates between the country’s two main publishing centers: Madrid and Barcelona. Unlike last year when the Prince of Asturias attended, this year’s VIPs include Spain’s Minister of Culture and similar dignitaries from Quebec representing the fair’s featured region. In her speech Quebec’s Minister of Culture highlighted the sociolinguistic similarities between Quebec and Catalonia.
Attending is also a host of other political figures, all of whom take the opportunity to make some sort of statement. This being Catalonia, most speeches are bilingual in some way or another, except for the remarks given by the President of the Catalan Parliament, which are all in Catalan. The most memorable words of the evening came at the very end: “que leamos mas libros y seamos mas libres.”
Wednesday, October 8
The delegation of more the 50 librarians (11 SALAMISTAS included) from England, Japan and the United States -- hosted by the Spanish Foreign Trade Office in Miami, America Reads Spanish and the Spanish Publishers Association -- have been given an early wake up call to catch the bus taking us to the fairgrounds, which this year will be far away from the hotel. Our bus is trying to avoid Barcelona’s morning commute, not much different from that of any European and American metropolis of more than 3 million people.
The morning introductory session has been delayed by traffic. One of the interesting projects announced by America Reads Spanish for the coming year is a “guía temática sobre el libro infantil” to supplement the Essential Guide to Spanish Reading (2007) to which several SALALmistas contributed. Once the session is over, we all hit the exhibit hall to meet with publishers and get in line at the computer area to check OPACs for those unfamiliar titles.
We will spend the next 3 days running between the exhibit hall and the meeting rooms hosting panel presentations on eBooks and Spain’s Biblioteca Digital Hispánica and its contribution to Europe’s digital library Europeana which was to go live the following month and would be overwhelmed (and eventually closed) as it could not handle all the avid “internautas.”
Thursday, October 9
SALALMistas would be present not only at the exhibit hall but also as part of a panel presentation with ARCE (Asociación de Editores de Revistas Culturales de España). The discussion was joined by other librarians and publishers from Spain as well as a representative from JSTOR, all with the hope of convincing ARCE to have a more robust web presence with its very important journals.
Friday, October 10
Today’s panel is on La lectura en España: Informe 2008. The study is not yet available but José Antonio Millán, the project’s leader, will comment on the some of the findings.
  • La lectura goza de buena salud en España.
  • Los españoles leen cada vez más en pantalla.
  • El 93% de los usuarios de Internet lee periódicos electrónicos.
  • Jóvenes y profesionales leen cada vez más en lenguas extranjeras, sobre todo en inglés.
  • Aunque en general hay tantos lectores como lectoras, más del 90% de los poseedores de un e-book son varones.
Millán is a cultural critic on information issues and his blog Libros y bitios is well known. As of late he has also added a section on El futuro del libro.
We have never met in person but have been in contact via email and I was surprised that he always mentioned my name in his blog as the source for some of the articles he sent out to several colleagues in Spain and Latin America under the heading “artículo de interés.”
My flight leaves early the next morning. A last minute stop by the Revista de Libros gets me a few issues to endure the long voyage back to California. SALALM’s friend Iria Alvarez from the Revista tells me that they have just launched an electronic version with a complete searchable backfile of almost 150 issues. As an ARCE journal we hope it’s also a forthcoming JSTOR addition.



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