The promotion of books and reading internationally as well as nationally has been an important part of the Center for the Book's mission since its creation in 1977. (See Information Bulletin, July/August 2001, www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/01078/cfb.html, for a summary of the Center's international projects and publications from 1978 to 2000.) The Center's recent international projects are outlined below.
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
Since 1997 the Center for the Book has been closely involved in the activities of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Section on Reading, which assists IFLA in fulfilling a key professional priority: promoting literacy, reading and lifelong learning. The Center for the Book has produced and distributed the section's newsletter twice a year since 1997. Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole has served as chair of the section (1997–2001) and as editor of the newsletter for the past five years. Current issues and issues dating back to 1997 are available on the section's Web site at www.ifla.org/VII/s33/index.htm.
Also accessible on this Web site are publications such as "Guidelines for Library-Based Literacy Programs: Some Practical Suggestions." Available in several different languages, the guidelines encourage libraries to become involved in literacy programs and also serve as an informal checklist for evaluating existing programs.
Case studies of family reading and literacy programs from around the world, which were presented at the 72nd IFLA General Conference and Council meeting held in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 20–24, 2006, are also accessible on the Reading Section's Web site. Speakers from Korea, Francophone Africa, Japan, Argentina, Denmark and Indonesia presented these case studies in a conference session sponsored by IFLA's Section on Reading and the Section on Libraries for Children and Young Adults.
At the 73rd IFLA General Conference in Durban, South Africa, Aug. 19-23, 2007, the Section on Reading will cosponsor a preconference on "Innovative Multicultural Library Services" and a conference session on "Libraries in Good Health: Resources and Practices Designed to Support Community Development and Outreach in Health-related Issues."
South African Centre for the Book
One of the most popular webcasts on the Library of Congress Web site is the Feb. 9, 2005, program on "First Words in Print," an innovative project of the South African Centre for the Book that aims to ensure that all young South African children have access to stimulating picture books and story books in their own languages. Directed by Lorato Trok, who made the 2005 presentation at the Library, the project won the 2004 IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award, which is administered by the International Board on Books for Young People. This past year, the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association (CCIRA) became a partner of the "First Words in Print" project. CCIRA first learned about the project when it cosponsored the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress' 2004 visit to South Africa (See Information Bulletin, November 2004, www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/0411/cfb.html.)
At the first Cape Town International Book Fair, held in June 2006, the South African Centre launched a new publication titled "The South African Small Publishers Catalogue," which includes information about more than 60 small, independent presses. The centre also announced a conference titled "A World Elsewhere: Orality, Manuscript and Print in Colonial and Post Colonial Cultures," to be held April 2-4, 2007.
For more information about the centre's activities, visit its Web site at www.centreforthebook.org.za.
UNESCO Literacy Promotion Activities
The Center for the Book director serves as a member of the Literacy Subcommittee of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. The subcommittee advises the national commission about its participation in the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003–2012), for which First Lady Laura Bush serves as Honorary Ambassador. In this capacity, Mrs. Bush organized and hosted the White House Conference on Global Literacy, which was held in New York on Sept. 18, 2006.
President and Mrs. Bush, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings also participated, along with 32 first ladies and spouses of world leaders, 41 ministers of education and numerous other governmental officials from around the world. The Library of Congress was represented at the conference by Elizabeth Ridgway, director of educational outreach, Office of Strategic Initiatives. UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura hailed the conference as an outstanding success that will inject "vital new momentum into the drive for literacy worldwide."
Reading Centers in Russia
The year 2007 has been declared the national "Year of Reading" in Russia, and all of the country's reading centers will participate in the celebration. At the IFLA conference in Seoul and earlier in the spring of 2006, John Cole met with representatives from many of the 30 reading centers that have been established in libraries throughout Russia since 2002. The centers have been encouraged by a partnership between the Center for the Book and the Pushkin Library Foundation. (See Information Bulletin, November 2002, www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/0211/russianscholars.html.)
In preparation for next year's activities, the Center for the Book, the Pushkin Library Foundation and the British Council will publish "Building Nations of Readers: Experience, Ideas, Examples." The cloth-bound book, to be published in late 2006, presents national perspectives on reading promotion from the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom as well as practical ideas and examples of current projects that work in each country. The well-illustrated bilingual (Russian and English) volume is being published in cooperation with the IFLA Section on Reading. It is edited by two former section chairs, Valeria Stelmakh and John Y. Cole, and contains an introduction by current section chair Gwynneth Evans.