By JOHN Y. COLE
Representatives from 41 states and the District of Columbia took part in the Center for the Book's annual "idea exchange" for affiliated state centers at the Library of Congress in early May.
In addition to exchanging information and ideas about specific projects and sharing concerns, state center coordinators discussed their participation in the Pavilion of the States at the 2003 National Book Festival and at the forthcoming 2004 Festival on Oct. 9.
They also talked about some of their reading promotion projects such as "Letters About Literature," in which more than 40 state centers participate. It is in its first year of national sponsorship by Target Stores. Other projects that were the subject of discussion were the new "Reading Powers the Mind" family literacy project, "River of Words" and "Mother Goose Programs," which is hosted by the Vermont Center for the Book and in which several state centers participate.
State centers use their affiliation with the Library of Congress as an incentive and as leverage to "stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries" at the state and local level, usually through partnerships with other organizations. Each center strives to operate on a statewide basis and as a unifying force on behalf of books and reading throughout the state. Each must provide its own financial and in-kind support and use its affiliation with the Library of Congress judiciously.
State centers are welcome, for example, to use Library of Congress promotional themes and to participate in national projects such as "Letters About Literature," but appropriate state adaptations of national themes are also encouraged. State centers are required to renew their affiliations with the national center every three years, outlining in their applications past accomplishments as well as future funding and programming plans.
At the May 3 meeting, 15 states were reminded that their renewal applications were due by the end of the year.
Several changes regarding state center "host institutions" that have occurred during the past year were also announced at the meeting. These included the move of the Ohio Center for the Book from the State Library in Columbus to the Cleveland Public Library; the return of the Arizona Center for the Book to the Arizona State Library and Archives after a partnership arrangement with the Arizona Humanities Council; the merger of the Colorado Center for the Book with the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities; the relocation of the Virginia Center for the Book from the Library of Virginia to the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities; and a new cooperative arrangement between the Nevada State Library and Archives and the Nevada Humanities Committee for the support and administration of the Nevada Center for the Book.
For further information about the affiliated state centers and their projects, visit the Center for the Book's Web site: www.loc.gov/cfbook.
John Y. Cole is director of the Center for the Book.