The Library of Congress has approved proposals from the Arkansas State Library and the District of Columbia Public Library to establish centers for the book that will be affiliated with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
"We're delighted to welcome Arkansas and the District of Columbia to our growing network of affiliated centers," said Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole. "We rely on our affiliates to bring the Center for the Book's message about the importance of books, reading and libraries to the local level. The affiliates program now includes 38 state centers for the book plus the District of Columbia."
The first state center, Florida, was approved in 1984. Each affiliation, when approved or renewed, is for a three-year period. Information about the state centers and their activities can be found on the Center for the Book's Web site: www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook.
The development of the proposal from Arkansas required several years. "It took time, but in the end our proposal received support from the governor, the state legislature and state Library Board," said State Librarian John A. "Pat" Murphey Jr. "We're extremely pleased to see the Arkansas Center for the Book finally come into existence. We look forward to enhancing the love of books and reading among Arkansans as well as increasing public awareness and appreciation of the contributions of our enthusiastic Arkansas community of the book."
Initial Arkansas Center for the Book projects will include a directory of the state's book community, cosponsorship of the Letters About Literature project and sponsorship of a statewide reading program for children and of a publishers' exhibition of children's books. For information about the Arkansas Center for the Book, contact Jane Thompson, Arkansas State Library, 1 Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 722201; telephone (501) 682-5288; fax (501) 682-1693.
The purpose of the District of Columbia Center for the Book is "to celebrate, honor and promote books, reading, literacy and the literary heritage of the District of Columbia and the surrounding metropolitan area." Creation of a District of Columbia Center for the Book became a goal of Mary E. "Molly" Raphael soon after she became director of the District of Columbia Public Library in February 1998. "It's a new era for the library, and this new program fits our plan beautifully." Ms. Raphael said. "This will be a collaborative effort, and we look forward to its full development and to cooperating with the state centers for the book in Maryland and Virginia and elsewhere whenever possible."
In announcing approval of the District of Columbia proposal, Mr. Cole said that it was "appropriate and important" that this new link be established. "The Library of Congress is located in the District of Columbia, and several of the national Center for the Book's reading and literacy promotion projects already parallel efforts at the District of Columbia Public Library and its 27 branches." For information about the new Center for the Book, contact Patricia Pasqual at the District of Columbia Public Library, 901 G Street N.W., Room 400, Washington, DC 20001-4599; telephone (202) 727-2313; fax (202) 727-1129.
Robert Hass to Host 'River of Words' Event on April 29
Former Poet Laureate Robert Hass returns to the Library of Congress on April 29 to moderate a program honoring the student winners of the fifth annual River of Words environmental poetry and art contest. The program, featuring poetry readings by the winning authors, a display of the winning artworks by their creators and commentary by Mr. Hass, will take place at 2 p.m. in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the Library's James Madison Memorial Building. It is free and open to the public.
The contest, which focuses on the theme of watersheds, is open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. "We are trying to alert kids to the natural world and its connection to artistic expression and the human spirit," said Mr. Hass, who served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1995 to 1997 and whose 1996 Library of Congress conference, "Watershed: Writers, Nature and Community," helped inspire River of Words. Mr. Hass cofounded the project with Pamela Michael, who serves as project director. The sponsors are the International Rivers Network and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. State centers for the book in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico are among the participants.
Eight grand prizes, four in poetry and four in art, are awarded. The grand prize winners and one international winner receive a trip to Washington, accompanied by a parent. Each year several thousand young people submit poems and artwork about their own natural surroundings. Mr. Hass selects the poetry winners. The art winners are selected by Germaine Juneau, director of the International Children's Art Museum.
"River of Words has greatly expanded its local partnership and community outreach programs," said Ms. Michael. "Moreover, we offered teacher training workshops; a curriculum kit and help in curriculum design; contest coordination help at the regional level; and local, national and international media support." For information, see the River of Words Web site: www.irn.org.
"What I like best about our annual River of Words awards ceremony is witnessing firsthand the creative instinct that these kids somehow have developed for the world around them -- it's inspiring," said Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole.
River of Words is supported by contributions from American Way, the magazine of American Airlines; the Witter Bynner Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the East Bay Municipal Utilities District, the Center for Ecoliteracy, the Library of America, Magnetic Poetry, the Rhode Island Foundation and Robin and Marsha Williams.
Sixteen State Centers Renewed for 2000-2003
Center for the Book Program Officer Maurvene D. Williams announced in January that the national center had approved renewal proposals from all 16 of the state centers for the book due for renewal at the end of 1999. "We ask for a summary of each center's accomplishments for the past three years and an outline of their plans for the next three," she said. "Since each state center must provide its own funding, we try to be flexible and supportive in reviewing proposals. We are especially pleased that in recent years we have not had to reject any of the renewal applications."
The renewed state centers and the dates of their original approval are: Alaska (1990), California (1987), Florida (1984), Indiana (1987), Kansas (1987), Maryland (1996), Minnesota (1990), Missouri (1993), Nebraska (1990), New Mexico (1996), North Dakota (1993), Ohio (1987), South Carolina (1996), Tennessee (1996), Texas (1987) and Virginia (1987).