The Library of Congress has approved a proposal from the Mississippi Library Commission for the creation of a Mississippi Center for the Book that will be affiliated with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
"We're delighted to welcome Mississippi to our growing network of state centers for the book," said John Y. Cole, director of the national center. "It becomes our 40th state center affiliate in a network that also includes the District of Columbia."
"Mississippi's Center for the Book will become a leader in both celebrating our state's enviable literary legacy and in strengthening our efforts to combat illiteracy," said John A. Prichard, executive director of the Mississippi Library Commission. "The center will have permanent headquarters in the new state library building authorized by the Mississippi legislature last year."
The statewide Steering Committee for the Mississippi Center for the Book met in Jackson on March 28 to complete work on its proposal to the Library of Congress. The committee includes authors, teachers, book and newspaper publishers, librarians, public officials and representatives from the Mississippi Humanities Council. The 13 members of the Board of Directors will be selected by the Mississippi congressional delegation and the Mississippi Library Commission. There also will be a 15- member honorary board of advisers. Melanie Musgrove, Mississippi's first lady, is lending her support to the project.
Early Mississippi Center for the Book projects will include the creation of a Web site, the Authors in Libraries and Writers Talking statewide programs and the development of a statewide book festival.
For information about the Mississippi Center for the Book, contact Thurman Boykin, coordinator, Mississippi Center for the Book, Mississippi Library Commission, 1221 Ellis Ave., P.O. Box 10700, Jackson, MS 39289-0700; telephone: (601) 961-4123; fax: (601) 354-6713.
History, Politics and Poetry Featured in "Books & Beyond" Programs
New publications from the Library of America were discussed in two recent Center for Book programs. On March 23, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jack N. Rakove, editor of the Library of America's James Madison, Writings (1999), discussed Madison, his work and his influence in a program that was held in Madison Hall in the Library's James Madison Memorial Building. On April 26, poets John Hollander and Carolyn Kizer read selections from American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, a new two-volume Library of America anthology. Both programs were in the center's "Books & Beyond" series, which features authors of books of special relevance to the Library of Congress and its collections. The April 26 program was cosponsored with the Library's Poetry and Literature Center.
Introducing Jack Rakove, Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole talked briefly about James Madison as a "neglected" founder of the Library of Congress, noting in particular Madison's 1783 "list of books" for the Continental Congress (the books were never purchased) and his memorable quotations about knowledge, liberty and learning at the outside entrance to the Madison Building and on the walls of Madison Hall. In his presentation, Mr. Rakove emphasized Madison's unique role, not just as "the great constitutional engineer of the late 18th century" but also as "a political actor" deeply engaged in political life at every turn who effectively "combined the thinking and the doing." Mr. Rakove also spoke as an editor, explaining why he included certain Madison writings and omitted others.
Library of America publisher Max Rudin and Nancy Rogers, director for public programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities, which is a principal Library of America funder, presented brief remarks during the opening of the April 26 program. In honor of both the Library of Congress's Bicentennial and National Poetry Month, Mr. Rudin also presented Mr. Cole with copies of all previous Library of America poetry publications. In their presentation, John Hollander and Carolyn Kizer took turns reading and discussing favorite selections from the anthology, which they helped edit. Mr. Hollander chose poems by Edward Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Dorothy Parker, Laura Riding, Robert Penn Warren, Theodore Roethke, Elizabeth Bishop, Countee Cullen and May Swenson. Ms. Kizer read poems by Vachel Lindsay, Robinson Jeffers, H. Phelps Putnam, Louise Bogan, Kenneth Fearing, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Hayden, Muriel Roykser, Josephine Jacobson and Hart Crane.
Kansas on Wheels
The Kansas Center for the Book's WOW (Words on Wheels) renovated bookmobile takes book and reading programming, plus small exhibits, into every corner of the state. Brightly painted with orange "reading" sunflowers and driven by Kansas Center for the Book coordinator Susan Marchant, (above left, with James Rhodes and Donna Tyron of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library), the bookmobile features displays of books by Kansas authors and illustrators. This summer's theme is "Kansas in Crime: Mystery Writers of the Sun Flower State," taking advantage of a grant recently received from the Kansas Humanities Council for a film and book discussion group that examines the writing lives of crime writers Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller and Kansas native Sara Paretsky. The California Center for the Book is a project partner.