By kYmberly Keeton
The 12,000 publishing professionals attending the LIBER conference in Madrid this past week may have been surprised to find some 60 American librarians roaming the aisles of the trade fair. The librarians were invited guests of America Reads Spanish and the American Library Association.
Alonso Regalado, Bibliography and Outreach Librarian at the University of Albany, is one of the lucky librarians chosen to take part in the Free Passport LIBER program.
“I have been a librarian since 1993; I consider it to be vitally important to attend this book fair this year,” said Regalado. “LIBER allows librarians to be exposed to the latest publications in Spanish provided by a wide range of publishers. Some of these publications may never be included in catalogs provided by U.S. vendors.”
America Reads Spanish is based in Miami, Florida. Founded in 2004 by the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade and the Spanish Federation of Publishers Guild, it supports the promotion, marketing and distribution of Spanish books in the United States. The organization’s website features book reviews, directories, videos, audio recordings and free resources for public access.
LIBER is one of four major book fairs for publishers in the Spanish-speaking world. Antonio Maria Avila, executive director of the Spanish Association of Publishers Guild, notes, “LIBER attracts every kind of professional involved in the book trade in Spanish, from the Americas and from across the world. This year, in spite of the grave fiscal and economic crisis, the fair is just as strong.”
For the 29th year, Lectorum Publications, Inc., the largest and oldest distributor of Spanish-language books in the United States, had face-to-face business meetings with publishers, where the main issue was how each organization can best meet the needs of the US market in the current economic crisis.
“We have been attending LIBER since the first year,” said Teresa Mlawer, President, of Lectorum. “Every year, we strengthen the relationship with our existing suppliers and find new ones.”
In Madrid, America Reads Spanish offered interactive and informational forums for participants through the LIBER Digital Program, a forum focused on improving training and knowledge of technology for participating professionals. But the opportunity doesn’t stop there: librarians, students, and educators are encouraged to frequent the America Reads Spanish website throughout the year.
Mr. Ignacio Dominquez said, “All groups can find on our website many different values, from book reviews to new releases to information about authors, recent catalogs from Spanish publishers, bestseller lists and many more. Although our program is focused on the professional and trade side of the business, we know that many individual readers also visit us to get recommendations and learn more about books in Spanish.”