Librarian Travel Report: Bogotá, Colombia

For the second time in two years, I traveled to Bogotá, Colombia in April to attend the International Book Fair of Bogotá, popularly known as FILBO. Along with nineteen other international librarians, I received a generous invitation from Proexport Colombia, La Cámara Colombiana del Libro, and the Centro Internacional de Negocios y Exposiciones –CORFERIAS. Together, they covered air travel, fair registration, and provided other assistance during the professional days of the fair. I also wish to acknowledge the additional support of Columbia University Libraries.

FILBO is one of the three largest annual book fairs in Latin America (together with Guadalajara and Buenos Aires). It is an excellent means of both professional development and selection as 95% of Colombian publishers participate in the fair. Walking around the pavillions, it was exciting to see Columbia and Cornell faculty members' work on prominent display, to include works by Joseph Stiglitz (in Spanish translation) and Edmundo Paz Soldán, among others.

View a Slideshow of Photographs from FILBO 2013

Read an interview with US-based librarians at the FILBO Blog:
Bibliotecólogos buscan libros colombianos para universidades en EE.UU

Although primarily a national showcase, Portugal’s pavilion was irresistible as the selection was excellent. Portugal sent over 20,000 copies of their best recent publications in various disciplines. I dedicated almost an entire day to review and select Portuguese titles as the opportunity to explore Portuguese books up close does not come too often.  As this was the first year working with a shared vendor to provide Colombian materials to both Cornell and Columbia libraries, I spent half a day working closely with our vendor, Carlos Retta, to fine tune our selection criteria. In the end, I’m confident that moving forward we will build a deep, wide-ranging collection of Colombian publications in many academic disciplines. We will not duplicate nearly as much (in the past decade Cornell and Columbia's collection of Colombian publications overlapped a full 30%). Instead, by working together, we will reinvest those savings into additional titles from the country to collect deeply from all the university presses and beyond to include La Carreta, Tragaluz, Letrarte, and many more. 

A visit to the Candelaria sparked stops at the Librería del Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez, the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, and the Archivo General de la Nación. I had not previously visited the national archives and did so at the request of a professor at Cornell to investigate the acquisition of a primary resource collection now available on microfilm.


Sean Knowlton
Latin American and Iberian Studies Librarian
Cornell University Library and Columbia University Libraries (2CUL)

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