Magazine article American Libraries

U.S. Librarians Show Their Stuff at Frankfurt Book Fair

Magazine article American Libraries

U.S. Librarians Show Their Stuff at Frankfurt Book Fair

Article excerpt

Just how big is the Frankfurt Book Fair? Try to imagine Chicago's O'Hare Airport around Christmas, but with the crowds elbowing each other to catch not a flight but a glimpse of Tom Wolfe, Toni Morrison, or the new Nobel Prize-winner, German writer Gunter Grass. Or imagine an entire city springing up overnight with up to 300,000 inhabitants brought together by just one compelling interest: books, hundreds of thousands you can pick up and look at, in all the world's languages. Throw two halls devoted to multimedia into the mix, the uncounted wares of type designers, wood engravers, hand binders, calendar and bookmark publishers, and outside street vendors hawking used books, new books, and exotic book paraphernalia, such as colored pencils handcrafted of real tree branches, bark and all. Bus shuttles and a "via mobile" connect the 10 Hallen (exhibit halls) of this vast book El Dorado, where each hall is three, four, even five levels high. Ten publishers from Albania? No problem: go to Hall 9, ascend to the th ird level, but be ready for clouds of cigarette smoke. New gay and lesbian publishers? Hall 5, up two escalators, bitte sehr.

Barbara Walden

As if by magic

This Brigadoon of the Book lasts for just six days every year in Germany, then disappears without a trace, only to reconstitute itself magically the following October. Held October 13-18 this year, the Frankfurt fete is the largest German-language book fair in the world, but also, the organizers are quick to point out, the world's largest English-language book fair--and the largest book event in who knows how many other languages.

This year, with an official invitation from the fair organizers in their pockets and funding from ALA's Association of College and Research Libraries, a contingent of American librarians from ACRL's Western European Specialists Section (WESS) occupied a booth in the International Booksellers and Librarians Center in Hall 9.2. The response to this first-ever noncommercial presence of U.S. academic librarians in the 51 postwar years of the fair was overwhelming: a steady stream of publishers, library directors, and subject specialists from as far away as India. Even students and ordinary citizens stopped by for conversation. …

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