During a news conference on July 30, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Mrs. Laura Bush announced plans for America's first National Book Festival. The festival will be held at the Library of Congress and on the east lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The event, which is hosted by Mrs. Bush and sponsored by the Library of Congress, is inspired by the highly successful Texas Book Festival founded by Mrs. Bush. The festival will include readings and book signings by more than 40 award-winning authors and illustrators of books for both adults and children (see www.loc.gov/bookfest). Additional activities will include musical performances, storytelling, panel discussions, demonstrations of illustration and new technologies, as well as special tours and exhibitions in the buildings of the Library of Congress.
The Librarian of Congress and Mrs. Bush hope that the National Book Festival will encourage American families to develop a lifelong love of reading. The event, which is free and open to the public, is made possible by generous donations from the AT&T Foundation, WorkPlaceUSA, the Library's James Madison Council and other private donors. Basketball star Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks joined in the announcement, representing the National Basketball Association's national reading campaign, "Read to Achieve," and detailing the NBA's involvement in the festival. At the announcement, the Librarian and Mrs. Bush also unveiled the festival logo and a painting by Texas artist Lu Ann Barrow that was commissioned for the festival.
Dr. Billington said, "We must all try, in every way we can, to send the message that reading is critical to our lives and to the life of our nation. At the Library of Congress, we are anxious to make our unique collections available throughout the world, which we are doing through our two Web sites, 'American Memory' and 'America's Library.' These two sites draw students and teachers, as well as kids and families, into reading about history through original photographs, diaries, letters, films and maps. These primary source materials add another dimension, but they also encourage deeper reading in books."
"I am proud to join with Dr. Billington and the Library of Congress in hosting this year's National Book Festival," said Mrs. Bush. "This event gives us an opportunity to inspire parents and caregivers to read to children as early as possible and to encourage reading as a lifelong activity. I look forward to welcoming book lovers of all ages to our nation's capital to celebrate the magic of reading and storytelling." Mrs. Bush's support of this festival builds on her leadership in creating an annual book festival as first lady of Texas.
On the morning of Friday, Sept. 7, a "Back-to School" program will be held in the Great Hall of the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building with Mrs. Bush and Dr. Billington and fourth grade students from a Washington-area public school. Dr. Billington and Mrs. Bush will read from their favorite books and demonstrate how the Library's Web site for families, www.americaslibrary.gov, can be used as a lively and interactive educational resource.
On Sept. 8, pavilions will be set up on the east lawn of the U.S. Capitol with both adult and children's authors reading excerpts from their works throughout the day. A storytelling pavilion and a pavilion featuring "great ideas for promoting reading, literacy and libraries" are planned. Book-signings, book sales and panel presentations on children's books, mysteries and poetry will be held in the Library's Jefferson Building. The Library's exhibition galleries and reading rooms will be open, presenting a wide range of special programs to inform and entertain visitors of all ages on such topics as children's book illustration and how to preserve family photos and documents.
The day also will include demonstrations in the Library's National Digital Library Learning Center in the Madison Building on computer learning featuring the Library's Web sites, and talking books and new technologies from the Library's National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Musical groups will perform in front of the Jefferson Building and food will be available on the plaza of Madison Building across the street.
The Library of Congress, the world's largest repository of knowledge and creativity, has been sustained for 201 years by Congress and serves all Americans in a variety of ways. It is the research arm of Congress through the Congressional Research Service and the Law Library; the protector of creativity through the Copyright Office; and an unparalleled collector of more than 121 million items, including 27 million books and serial publications, millions of prints, photographs, films, maps, recordings, broadcasts, and manuscripts. It promotes reading through its Center for the Book and Children's Literature Center. The Library catalogs for libraries everywhere, and serves as a library for people with disabilities nationwide. And now it has become a national digital library on the Internet, serving the world at www.loc.gov.
For more information about the National Book Festival, call toll-free (888) 714-4696 or consult the Festival's Web site at www.loc.gov/bookfest.
Mr. D'Ooge is a public affairs specialist in the Public Affairs Office.