Purchasing books for Asturias at Piedra Santa

by Lindsay Hall and Marika Hunter

On our first day we visited publishing company Piedra Santa in Guatemala City. At first glance it appeared to be a small storefront, but as we began our tour it became clear there’s much more than meets the eye. It contains a storefront, a printing area, an administrative department, and a warehouse. In each space and person we met on the tour there was an evident devotion to promoting Guatemalan culture and literature, as is reflected in their motto, “Educando generaciones siempre.”

The collection development team’s primary goal was to choose non-fiction books for Miguel Angel Asturias Academy’s growing library. The tour guide had helpfully pre-selected newer titles for the entire group to browse. The collection development team sifted through the shelves to find the most appropriate books to purchase and add to the academy’s collection. The benefits of Piedra Santa’s approach to publication were evident as we made our selections. As school librarian Joy observed, “these books offer a specific look at each of the regions of Guatemala.”

We were able to make a diverse selection of books from encyclopedias about space to biography about Shakespeare. Our goal in providing an array of topics is to spark student interest and nudge them down the path of lifelong learning.

There was one challenge some of the team encountered while choosing books: the language barrier. But you can’t stop a group of librarians from hauling away books. We were able to assess the books’ appropriateness based on the quality of the binding, the clarity of non-text features, and shelf appeal (of course). With support from other members of the team we were able to choose new, exciting materials.
It was exciting to be able to tour Piedra Santa and get a different perspective on the relationship between publishing and libraries. However, this was just the first step in the process of getting books in the hands of students. More to come in the days ahead.

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