The Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL), the most important publishing gathering in Ibero-America, will be held this year from Saturday, November 29, to Sunday, December 7, with thousands of attendees from around the world.

We asked David Unger, international representative of FIL, and Michael Dowling, director of international relations and chapter relations at the American Library Association (ALA), to

provide some advice for librarians traveling to Guadalajara this year. Below are their tips.

Fair size: With 19,000 book professionals and 750,000 public visitors, FIL can produce sensory overload. Prepare for your trip by reviewing the various online catalogues to decide what you want to do. For more information, check the FIL website:

Relaxed attitude: FIL is not London or Frankfurt. Business is the name of the game, but it is conducted in a more relaxed style. Let yourself discover the charm of Mexican culture.

Elevation: Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, is 5,200 feet above sea level. We recommend taking it easy the first day. Don’t try to rush around, and stay hydrated.

ALA orientation: Librarians should plan on attending the ALA orientation on Sunday, November 30, beginning at 3 p.m. The ALA orientation is a must for first timers. Take advantage of this opportunity to hear the advice of the various veteran panelists.

Food: Consider bringing your own snacks and drinks, especially water. There are several food stands, but some are far away and/or crowded.

Comfort: Bring at least one pair of very comfortable shoes—you will be doing a lot of walking at the fair.

Librarian gala dinner: There will be a dinner sponsored by U.S. distributors and Latin American publishers on November 30 at 8 p.m. This is a ticketed event for ALA members and sponsors. The dinner is complimentary, as is transportation from the Hotel Guadalajara Plaza López Mateos.

Selecting books: Librarians should make sure of the quality of each book they purchase—checking the binding and the printing, as well as the font size. Also check to see whether the books are reprints, translations, or abridgments of previously published titles.

Shipment of materials: Try to work with your U.S. distributor of choice before and during the fair. Though speaking Spanish is not a requirement at FIL, they may be able to translate for you and/or facilitate information in English should it become necessary. There is also a courier service located inside the expo, in warehouse #4, if you need to ship materials back to the U.S. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Also, you may want to bring along an extra backpack or small rolling luggage to carry books purchased on-site.