By STEPHEN WESSON
Featured at the sixth annual National Book Festival, the Library of Congress pavilion provided a variety of opportunities for book festival visitors to learn about the programs and activities of the world's largest library. This year, the pavilion focused on the Library's Lifelong Literacy campaign, a national public service advertising campaign designed to encourage children and families to become engaged in reading and all other forms of literacy. The pavilion also featured the ways in which the Library works to preserve and make available the most important cultural materials of the past and present.
Visitors to the pavilion were welcomed by Library staff members from the Office of Strategic Initiatives, who were on hand to explain the different interactive features and activities available in the pavilion and to provide guided tours of the Library's Lifelong Literacy Web site. An interactive jukebox let guests play landmark film and music clips from throughout the 20th century. Nearby, staff from the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound division provided previews of the new National Audiovisual Conservation Center, which is being constructed in Culpeper, Va.
The importance of digital preservation was highlighted by an interactive presentation from the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, which let users vote for digital media that they would like to see preserved.
Staff from the Copyright Office answered visitors' questions about the copyright process, and a new edition of the CD-ROM "The Library of Congress: Inspiring the World with Knowledge" was available for the public to take home.
Staff members from the American Folklife Center and Veterans History Project (VHP) were on hand in the Library of Congress pavilion to greet visitors, share highlights from the collection and encourage veterans and their families to record their wartime stories. Marty Potts, a teacher at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Va., and one of her students demonstrated how to conduct an oral history interview. The subject was Ezra Hill, who served as a Tuskegee airman. Following his interview, Hill signed copies of his book, "The Black Red Tail Angels" in the pavilion.
Author and VHP historian Tom Wiener interviewed Darlene Iskra, who served in the Persian Gulf War and was the first woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. Her story is among those included in the VHP's second compilation of war stories, "Forever a Soldier," which was unveiled in paperback at the festival. VHP Director Bob Patrick interviewed Kevin Hymel, author of "Patton's Photographs: War as He Saw It." The book contains hundreds of pictures snapped by Gen. George S. Patton, whose collection resides in the Library of Congress.
Daun Van Ee, military historian in the Library's Manuscript Division, moderated a panel of authors, which included Donald L. Miller ("Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany"), and Rick Newman and Don Shepperd ("Bury Us Upside Down: The Misty Pilots and the Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail").
The vivid sights and sounds of the Kids' Zone drew crowds of younger visitors together to play educational games based on colorful and engaging items from the Library's collections.
The bustling center of the pavilion was the Reading Wall, a 30-foot-long graffiti wall topped with questions that prompted visitors to think about the ways in which reading had inspired them. Festival-goers covered the wall with messages, describing their first reading experiences, recommending favorite books and testifying to the powerful role reading has played in their lives. Several National Book Festival authors, including Shelia Moses, Kadir Nelson, Amy Uyematsu, Sally Squires and Andrew Clements, also took time to visit the wall and added their personal observations on the importance of reading.
By the festival's close, more than 11,000 guests had visited the Library of Congress pavilion, and more than 8,000 free CD-ROMs had been given out, along with 3,000 copies of the special full-color "Visitors Welcome" issue of the Library of Congress Information Bulletin.
Even as the computers were being shut down and groups of stragglers headed off the Mall, one last guest stood on a chair to add a final note to the Reading Wall, as well as to the National Book Festival: "Go books!"
Stephen Wesson is an educational resource specialist in the Library's Office of Strategic Initiatives. Anneliesa Clump, a public affairs specialist in the Veterans History Project, contributed to this report.