Representatives from 39 states participated in the Center for the Book's annual Idea Exchange for affiliated state centers, which was held at the Library of Congress in May. They shared information and ideas about their respective statewide programs and learned about current Center for the Book reading promotion projects such as Letters About Literature, River of Words and One Book community reading and discussion projects.
As in past years, as part of the state center meeting the Center for the Book hosted a Library Legislative Day reception that included prominent U.S. library leaders. Speakers at the 2007 reception included Librarian of Congress James H. Billington; Mamie Bittner, deputy director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services; and Leslie Burger, president of the American Library Association.
Looking ahead, the focus was on state center participation in the Library of Congress's Lifelong Literacy initiative and the Pavilion of the States at the National Book Festival. Also discussed were plans by the Library of Congress, in partnership with the Children's Book Council, to create the position of National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
The center's principal Russian reading promotion partner in Russia is the Pushkin Library Foundation in St. Petersburg. Its director, Maria Vedenyapina, was a special guest at the meeting, and she described the system of more than 30 Russian "reading centers" that was inspired by the national Center for the Book. She presented Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole with an advance copy of a Russian-English reading promotion handbook titled "Building Nations of Readers: Experience, Ideas, Examples," which he recently co-edited with his long-time Russian colleague Valeria Stelmakh.
In an e-mail after the meeting, Illinois coordinator Bonnie Matheis explained why she valued the center's Russian connection:
"We need to instill a love of reading that crosses all borders. Reading and free access to information can make the world stronger as a whole. It can empower countries from the bottom up—building a strong sense of city, county, world."
Attendees, such as Florida coordinator Eileen McNally, expressed their appreciation following the event. "Thanks for a great Idea Exchange," McNally commented. "I came home re-energized and ready to incorporate some new activities into our
The Boorstin Awards were once again presented at the gathering of state centers. Ruth F. Boorstin, whose husband Daniel J. Boorstin, former Librarian of Congress (1975-1987), established the Center for the Book in 1977, presented five innovative reading promotion projects with awards of $1,000 each. Following is a list of the state centers and the citations describing their accomplishments:
- California. Founded in 1987 and hosted by the Department of Information Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, the California Center for the Book (www.calbook.org) was honored for its new "Book Clubs in a Box" and "Mysterious California" reading promotion programs. Also cited was its concise new public slogan and focus: "We help librarians and teachers get California reading."
- Georgia. Founded in 1998 and hosted by the DeKalb County Public Library in Decatur, the Georgia Center for the Book (www.georgiacenterforthebook.org) was recognized for its success as a co-founder and sponsor of the new Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival and "All Georgia Reads" projects. Also cited was the center's extensive program of statewide author presentations.
- Illinois. Founded in 1985 and hosted by the Illinois State Library in Springfield, the Illinois Center for the Book (www.illinoiscenterforthebook.org) was commended for several projects that honor Illinois authors, including the Illinois Emerging Writers Competition, the "Illinois Authors Directory" and the Illinois Literary Heritage Award.
- Louisiana. Founded in 1994 and hosted by the Louisiana State Library in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Center for the Book (www.state.lib.la.us) was honored for its work in planning the 2006 Louisiana Book Festival. The 2005 festival was cancelled because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The center was also commended for its creative support for Louisiana public libraries during their hurricane recovery efforts.
- Maine. Founded in 1998 and hosted by the Maine Humanities Council in Portland, the Maine Center for the Book (www.mainehumanities.org/about/center.html) received a Boorstin award for its innovative and wide-ranging community-based programs that promote reading. These include Community Reading Seminars; New Books, New Readers; Stories for Life; Born to Read; and Teachers for a New Century.