The Center for the Book will be 25 years old in October 2002. This is the sixth in a series of articles that summarizes its activities during its first quarter century.
Measured by quantity alone, lectures on book-related topics and talks by authors of newly published books have been the Center for the Book's dominant method of promoting books, reading and libraries for the past 25 years. Under the center's auspices, from 1977 to mid-2002, approximately 130 speakers from the book, reading, library, literacy and books arts communities have presented individual talks at the Library of Congress.
Four different lecture "series" reflect the Center for the Book's varied interests: the Engelhard Lectures on the Book, cosponsored by the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, emphasized the historical role of books, printing, reading and scholarship; the National Children's Book Week Lectures, cosponsored by the Children's Literature Center, highlighted outstanding writers of books for children; and the National Book Award series, cosponsored by the National Book Foundation, features National Book Award winners. The fourth, the Books & Beyond author series, started in 1996, focuses on new books that have a special connection to the Library's collections or programs; each talk usually is cosponsored by another Library of Congress office or custodial division or one of the Center for the Book's national reading promotion partners.
The Engelhard Lectures on the Book, inaugurated by the Library in
1976 with a gift from Mrs. Charles W. Engelhard Jr., became a Center
for the Book project in 1977 as soon as the center was established.
Most of the talks in the Engelhard and National Book Awards series
have been published by the Center for the Book; they are listed on
the center's Web site (www.loc.gov/cfbook),
which also provides general information about the center's activities.
Many of the talks in the Books & Beyond series have been filmed
by C-SPAN, broadcast on C-SPAN 2's "Book TV," and are currently available
from the network
Beginning with the Books & Beyond program of Nov. 8, 1998, featuring author William Styron and his biographer, James L. W. West III, the Library began making selected Center for the Book lectures and book talks available on the Library's Web site, with links to the Center for the Book's home page. For information about these cybercasts, including the May 30, 2001, program featuring Louis Menand discussing his 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America," see www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc.