Guadalajara’s International Book Fair, 31 Years Strong
In its 31 years, the Guadalajara International Book Fair / Feria Internacional del Libro (FIL) has become the most important book event in the Spanish-speaking world showcasing the hemisphere’s publishing output and hosting multiple panels: from author readings to round table discussion on current events. Opening every Thanksgiving weekend, FIL received over 800,000 visitors by the time it ended on December 3rd.
My first FIL was in 1992 thanks to a companion airline ticket from a friend and the expert guidance of UC Santa Barbara’s Sara Poot-Herrera who introduced me to a her circle of friends. Many of those contacts with Mexican writers, artists and literary critics continue to this day.
Since 1995 I’ve been attending every year, and in 1999 the book-buying trip became part of the ALA-FIL Free Pass Program established jointly by the American Library Association and FIL. The program facilitates participation from U.S. librarians in acquiring materials to meet the growing demand for Spanish-language titles. This year it sponsored over 160 participants and as a “FIL veteran” I’ve been part of the orientation team for first-time attendees for 18 years, with a few times participating as presenter on library issues or moderating this year’s panel “Mexico-United States Relations in the Trump Era: The Spanish Language Book Panorama.”
For me FIL is an essential space to purchase resources not always covered by approval plans. There is also the opportunity to visit local bookstores, research centers, and museums to acquire fugitive materials that often elude commercial distribution.
Every year the book faire features a country or city as a guest of honor. This year it was Madrid, Spain. As FIL has grown, it has added events recognizing the year’s best publisher, bibliophile, librarian, etc. I’ve known this year’s honored librarian (Micaela Chavez) for almost 30 years and I was asked to say a few words, which are included in this video (in Spanish) masterfully prepared by Gabrielle Karempellas and her iphone.