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Sabine Keune, Germany - Why ILAB Congresses are an ideal place to meet, learn and network

Sabine Keune, Germany - Why ILAB Congresses are an ideal place to meet, learn and network

Cologne was my first one - by Sabine Keune 

Back in 1992, the international antiquarian book world opened its doors to me with the ILAB Congress and Book Fair in Cologne.

This was long before the arrival of the Internet. I was new to the trade, had been self-employed since 1987 and was thoroughly impressed by all the encounters and offerings; a journey in a hired train from Cologne to Mainz, a visit to the Gutenberg Museum, returning to Cologne on a steamship, dancing on board while passing the beautiful scenery of the Rhine valley, the unforgettable festive dinner at Brühl’s Castle.

The organisers undertook the incredibly difficult task of arranging an intelligent, well thought-through seating order for the 420 participants of the congress. An experienced, older colleague who sat next to me, asked me energetically “I don’t know you, I assume my son knows you?”. We know each other since.  The last time we spoke over the phone was in January.

When I think back to the congresses that I have attended, a long line of colourful memories comes to mind.  Hosts always made sure to make this an unforgettable event but also an occasion to build valuable connections. Contact with colleagues often turned into friendships.

The congress in Los Angeles in 1996 and the fair in San Francisco were legendary. For many of us Europeans it felt like a dream: California in September, the sun, blue sky, and good spirits. The Neue Züricher Zeitung, the Swiss newspaper went online for the first time that year but the Internet didn’t play an important role then for the antiquarian trade. The congress had no website yet. We stayed in Loews Santa Monica Hotel looking at the Pacific. We visited the Getty, and the Huntington Library, followed by lunch in its fantastic gardens. Then further libraries and collections, ending the congress with a farewell dinner and dancing at the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel.

I think all congresses have achieved their primary goal, that of allowing colleagues from different countries to make contact.  They really are – even in these times of the Internet and seemingly borderless travel – irreplaceable.
I am very happy to see that the young colleagues who attended the ILAB Congress in Budapest in September 2016, have taken the initiative to organize the next congress in Pasadena in February 2018. BRAVO!

Sabine Keune, Germany - Why ILAB Congresses are an ideal place to meet, learn and network


The 2018 ILAB Congress will be hosted and organised by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America, ABAA who have been working incredibly hard in the past few months to put together a programme for the well travelled bibliophile and bookseller. 

ILAB Congresses and Book Fairs are held every two years in another country. They are cultural and social events that lead booksellers affiliated to the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers to the capitals of the world, where they are shown treasures of book printing and arts, with the possibility of networking in a relaxed atmosphere with colleagues from across the globe.

Registrations for the 43rd ILAB Congress in February 2018 in Los Angeles, Pasadena are now open!

Please visit the website: 


Published since 22 Jun 2017