Since 1980, the American Library Association (ALA) has been one of the Center for the Book's national reading promotion partners. The annual ALA conference in Washington, D.C., in June offered several unique opportunities to promote the role of libraries in society—yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
On June 22, more than 25 ALA conference attendees took a Shakespeare-themed walking tour of the historic Thomas Jefferson Building led by Center for the Book director John Y. Cole and Martha Hopkins of the Library's Interpretive Programs. Hopkins also served as curator of "Shakespeare in America," a special display on view in the Library's "American Treasures" exhibition Feb. 22 through Aug. 18 and accessible online at www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/
tr33a.html#shakespeare. Beginning with an overview of the display, the tour highlighted Shakespearean images and words in the Jefferson Building's corridors and ceilings, including the bronze statue in the Main Reading Room, pictured at right. According to Cole, Shakespeare is the best-represented writer in the building's iconography.
In the Library's Madison Building on June 22, the Center for the Book and the ALA Committee on Literacy hosted a reception and program honoring Robert Wedgeworth for his lifetime contributions to libraries and to literacy. Wedgeworth, who served as ALA executive director from 1972 through 1985, was responsible for ALA's participation in National Library Week and encouraged the creation of Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA) in 1979. The same year he organized the National Coalition for Literacy and was instrumental in persuading the Advertising Council to launch the first nationwide campaign to promote adult literacy. For nearly six years, Wedgeworth has served as president and chief executive officer of Proliteracy Worldwide (a Center for the Book reading promotion partner), which was formed in 2002 through the merger of Laubach Literacy International and Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc.
On June 25, the Center for the Book and the District of Columbia Public Library co-hosted a program at the D.C. Public Library honoring Alice L. Hagemeyer on the occasion of her election as an honorary member of ALA. In his remarks, Cole discussed Hagemeyer's roles in working with the Center for the Book to promote National Deaf History Month and to develop the center's partnership with the National Literary Society of the Deaf.
At a public program in the Madison Building on June 28, the Center for the Book and FOLUSA presented a lecture by Michael Blake, author of "Dances With Wolves" (1988). Blake discussed his research on Native Americans that led to the book and the subsequent award-winning film, as well as his latest book, "Indian Yell: The Heart of an American Insurgency" (Northland Publications, 2006).