From October 15-19 Duke librarian Heidi Madden attended the Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany. This year the fair attracted 299,112 visitors--a record. The Frankfurt Book Fair dates to the 15th century and and Johannes Gutenberg's invention of movable type in a city not far from Frankfurt.
Madden builds and manages the Libraries' Western European collections. Here is what she has to say about her work and why it is important for her to attend the fair:
As the selector of Western European materials I sift through a large volume of new acquisitions title announcements every month. I have close working relationships with each of the academic departments I serve, and I make decisions based on Duke University faculty feedback about ongoing research and teaching activities of the faculty, students, departments and centers. I also consider the historic strengths of our collections, and I work collaboratively on collection development with libraries in the Triangle Research Libraries Network.
Duke works with large European vendors (Harrassowitz, Casalini, Aux Amateurs, Touzot…) who pre-select publications of interest to American academic libraries. A vendor of German-language materials would consider 30,000 out of 80,000 publications in the first round of selection, and they would reduce that number down to around 10,000 academic titles across the disciplines. I select from this vendor database of preselected items and from individual publishers with programs of particular interest.
The visit to the Frankfurter Book Fair provides me with an amazing opportunity to immerse myself in the ongoing cultural and political debates in Europe, and to interact first hand with a representative set of the larger and smaller publishers. It is of great importance to see the full spectrum of publications, from the trivial and popular to the most academic because I gain a perspective that helps me articulate a collection policy for my Duke constituents. The fair usually draws over 7,000 exhibitors, and while the large companies come every year, the new, independent and smaller publishers with booths at the fair vary from year to year.
Heidi Madden has recorded her impressions and activities at the fair in a comprehensive guide that includes pictures and links to special features such as author interviews.
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