Open Journal Systems

World Libraries | Volume 21 | Number 2 | Wedeward

Guadalajara International Book Fair


Guadalajara International Book Fair
Guadalajara International Book Fair


Day One-A New Adventure Begins

Today I embarked on a new journey. This is one I know I will never forget. As I reflect on my trip, I find it hard to believe I would not be on the career path to becoming a librarian, and I realize I love this field and am glad to be a part of it.

One of my favorite quotes I read recently is “When you make plans, God laughs at you”. I think I love it so much because it sums up my life perfectly. As a Politics and Government and Anthropology double major at Ripon College (with a love for Anthropology more than Politics) I worked on campus as an intern at Lane Library and was rehired as a Cataloging Assistant. With the constant mentorship of my boss Carl Ziebell, I knew being a librarian was what I wanted to do. I was very lucky with my undergraduate degree. I got to attend library conferences, and had internships in digital asset management, archives, and library foundations.

But, I think what I have been pondering most (especially over the course of my trip) that ties back to my earlier quote...was that I didn’t plan to come to Dominican University for my MLIS. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Dominican when I visited. But after applying and getting accepted, I declined my offer to go to St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. After some financial hiccups, I emailed my admissions counselor two weeks prior to the semester starting. I reconsidered and everything fell into place. So, I find it remarkable to be given an opportunity to expand my travels in a field I am so passionate about. My first day was certainly one to remember. It was my first flight by myself, and my first flight with a layover. So, my anxiety was a little higher than usual. But as always, my Anthropology major came out through training in field observation. First, an informant was behind me in line at O’Hare. Second, a family relocated from Chicago to Houston on my flight. The two boys (ages 2-4) took their stresses out on the parents, to say the least. But finally, luggage and all, I made it to Guadalajara. At this point, it was 11:30 at night and I couldn’t understand Spanish prior to a 4 hour flight and I certainly didn’t understand it now. I’m not sure how I managed. Grace of God I suppose tired, dirty, and sitting in an Uber ride for almost an hour (I gave the poor guy the wrong address). In the midst of it all, I saw the beauty of Guadalajara the car. The architecture, the lights, the palm trees. It was love at first sight.


View from the hotel.
View from the hotel.


After a night of sleeping in, I got a delicious breakfast, walked around the hotel to end up picked up lunch at Soriana. I knew the rest of my group wasn’t arriving until late, so I wanted to take advantage of the pool while I still could. But to my excitement, I ran into one of my classmates, Laura in the lobby and offered her my company.

Even though it wasn’t the stereotypical tourism sightseeing on my first day, it was the perfect first day. I was so happy to see someone I knew! Life chats with Laura over wine by the pool is something I will never forget. I am blessed with many mother figures in my life (including my own Mom) but I certainly had no problem having another mother to my growing list. I truly enjoyed my day with Laura. It was the perfect day and I knew it would only get better.

Day Two-Mexican Lifestyle


Classmates from left to right: Rachel Wedeward, Lorrie Hansen, Abrar Alkusaimi, Justin Briggs, and Laura Schuler


The next morning, I was full of excitement to know the rest of my group arrived. I could tell everyone was still exhausted that morning, but I was still very happy to see everyone! The book fair was still open to the public so it was going to be way too crowded. None the less, we still had lots to do. First, we went to look at the murals. This was originally scheduled for later in the day but because I had to leave early, we decided to move it up a little earlier which I was very happy about. The murals were so beautifully done- although I was saddened to see the depictions of Mexico’s history as grim and tragic.

I know that Mexico has faced a repressed history but, I hope that one day a different picture can be painted. Especially because the Mexican people have always worked so hard to provide for their families. I really hope for that hard work to finally pay off. Throughout my time in Mexico, there were reports and protests for the 43 college students that went missing 500 miles away from Guadalajara. Although it’s a stretch to compare, this situation reminds me a great deal of what has been happening in Ferguson, MO. To me, they are very similar in the sense that there is a dire need for change for both. But, this change isn’t going to come until we make it happen. So, just food for thought, there should be a collaborative effort between the U.S. and Mexico to help make change for the better.

Anyway, I digress. This day in particular stands out because it is the most I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. Not even Thanksgiving compare. The atmosphere of this whole day was incredible. The people, the celebration of coming together for good food and good conversation is something we should take more time to do with the ones we are closest with.


One of many book vendors at the fair.
One of many book vendors at the fair.


Days Three and Four-Books, Books, and More Books!

At this point in my adventure, I did some sightseeing, eating, and being merry! But what was next was nothing for which I could really prepare. Prior to the book fair, we sat in on an orientation on how to prepare for the vendors and the fair grounds. However, the orientation was a total understatement to how cool the fair was! The vendors had such beautiful books and such beautiful booths, my pictures did no justice! It got to be overwhelming at first, but I came up with ideas and strategies along the way.


Exterior of the fair.
Exterior of the fair.


First, I took pictures of the books. I could tell the vendors thought it was weird. But, I knew how hard it was going to be for me to keep track of books so, why not? Second, I took the approach of picking out books as if I was at my internship at Oak Park Public Library. We are trained to pick out books based on illustrations, color, length, and physical size. Since I only have a basic understanding of Spanish, I thought it would be good to pick books on criteria I knew.

Overall, I am very happy with the books I bought and the trip as a whole. After embarking on an amazing adventure with amazing people, I am still surprised that more Dominican graduate students have not taken advantage of this opportunity. Even now as I sit recapping my thoughts, I would take this adventure all over again. I have always loved travelling personally, and I will always continue to (this trip has also inspired me to become tri-lingual in Spanish and French. I had a French background prior to coming to Dominican). But what I love most about my trip was being able to combine travelling and librarianship into one great adventure. It was the best of both worlds. My trip to the Guadalajara International Book Fair has not only enhanced my courses and my curriculum at Dominican. But, I have made lifelong friends and connections that will help me in my future endeavours in the Library and Information Science program at Dominican University.

About the author

Rachel Wedeward is a graduate of Dominican University’s GSLIS program.

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