As part of its increasingly active program of book and reading promotion, on March 24 the Arizona Center for the Book hosted an appearance by Robert Hass, the Library's eighth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.
Mr. Hass was the featured speaker at the center's first annual Parnassus Awards Tea, which honored three individuals "whose contributions to books, reading, libraries and literacy have made a difference to Arizona." Also honored were three student state winners in the center's Letters About Literature contest, which is cosponsored by READ magazine and the LC Center for the Book. More than 250 people attended the event, which was held at Phoenix's Wrigley Conference Center. The Library of Congress was represented by Mr. Hass; Prosser Gifford, director of Scholarly Programs; and Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole. Jack Brown, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Arizona Center for the Book, was program moderator.
The Parnassus Award, presented by the Arizona center in cooperation with the LC Center for the Book, is bestowed on individuals and organizations who have, "like Mount Parnassus, home of the mythic Muses, served as the fount of inspired commitment to books, reading, libraries and literacy and to building a nation of readers."
The 1996 Parnassus Award recipients were Anne Hazard Richardson, who has served as chairperson of Reading Is Fundamental Inc. since 1981; Judy Goddard of Phoenix, former first lady of Arizona and founder of Libraries Limited, which donates books to underserved children throughout Arizona; and Martha Blue of Flagstaff, for her contributions to Books for Kids, which in 1995 distributed more than $500,000 worth of new, publisher-donated books to Hopi, Navajo and Havausai children and schools in Arizona.
The Letters About Literature contest invited students in grades six through 12 to write a letter to an author who made a difference in that student's life. READ magazine received 12,500 entries in the 1995-96 contest; Arizona, with 650 entries, ranked third among the states in participation. Jessica Jones, 14, of North Canyon High School in Phoenix, won Arizona's first-place prize for her letter to Anne McCaffrey, author of Dragonflight. Second prize went to Jenette Spezaski, 14, of Grace Christian School in Tucson, for her letter to Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Willie Ryan, 13, of St. Theresa's Catholic School in Phoenix, won third place for his letter to Lois Lowry, author of The Giver. They were presented with cash awards of $100, $50 and $25, respectively.
Mr. Hass was introduced by poet and writer Alberto Rios, Regents' Professor of English at Arizona State University. In addition to reading several of his poems - both published and in progress - Mr. Hass spoke eloquently about literacy problems in America. He endorsed the remarks about literacy made earlier by Arizona Center for the Book President Phyllis Steckler.
Mr. Hass contrasted literacy rates in the United States at the end of the 19th century with the lower rates today, concluding that Americans have "lost" not only their heritage of literacy skills but also their commitment to the importance of reading in a democracy. Praising the achievements of each of the Parnassus Award winners, he also complimented the Arizona Center for the Book on its multifaceted program.
Established in 1988, the Arizona Center for the Book "works to stimulate the love of books, the thrill of reading and respect for libraries as we strive to achieve the goal of literacy for every Arizonan." It is a nonprofit organization headed by a volunteer board of directors that includes educators, elected officials, bookstore owners, librarians, authors, publishers and the public. All programs are funded through grants and tax-deductible contributions.
Other Arizona Center for the Book projects include: "Books & Co." on Arizona public television, which is the only author-interview television program in the Southwest; Feast for the Mind, monthly luncheons that provide guests with an opportunity to meet authors and others who share a love of reading; R.E.A.D. (Reading Encouragement and Development), a statewide program that encourages and organizes reading groups and sponsors projects such as Letters About Literature; Bookbound, a quarterly newsletter ; and the Arizona Collection, a project that publishes books about Arizona's heritage, particularly its history, people, art and culture.
For information about the Arizona Center for the Book and its activities, write or call Kathy Alikhan, Executive Director, P.O. Box 34438, Phoenix, AZ 85067-4438, (602) 265-2651.
Arizona Hosts Library-Museum-Head Start Workshop. "We at Head Start are committed to providing opportunities for our children to explore the world around them. And what better places are there for them to explore and enrich their lives than in our museums and libraries? So, today, those of us sitting with you from the Head Start community want to welcome all of you from libraries and museums to our world."
With these words, Federal Region VI Team Leader Susan Johnston welcomed participants in the Center for the Book's fourth Library-Museum-Head Start Partnership workshop, held in Scottsdale Feb. 29-March 1. Hosted by the Arizona Center for the Book, the workshop brought together more than 80 enthusiastic Head Start teachers, museum specialists and librarians who serve children throughout Arizona and New Mexico.
"The workshop was an enormous success," said Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole. "Through these workshops, local Head Start programs, museums and libraries are learning about each other and establishing new partnerships that encourage reading and family literacy. In Scottsdale, we were especially pleased with the strong Head Start representation."
The Library-Head Start Partnership Project began in 1992 with a joint agreement between the Center for the Book and the Head Start Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services. Youth services advocate and library consultant Virginia H. Mathews was designated as project coordinator.
Major planning conferences were held at the Library of Congress on July 13-15, 1992, and Sept. 11-13, 1994, when museums that serve children were added to the partnership. Workshops, all hosted by state centers for the book, have been held in California, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Texas and Virginia. Thus far, more than 600 participant/trainees have taken part in state center-sponsored workshops; other workshops, often led by trained participants, have been held in Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon and Ohio. The Colorado Center for the Book will host a workshop in Denver on Sept. 5-6, for Head Start teachers, museum specialists and librarians from Colorado and Wyoming.
The Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC), which was represented at the Scottsdale conference by Executive Director Susan Roman, is a project sponsor and the major partnership link to libraries. For museums, this function is served by the Association of Youth Museums (AYM), which was represented in Arizona by its executive director, Janet Rice Elman. AYM President Barbara Meyerson, director of the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, also attended and hosted a dinner and festivities for conference participants at the museum on Feb. 29.
The discussions in Scottsdale began with a 40-minute video produced by the Center for the Book in the first phase of the partnership project. Accompanied by a printed guide, the video describes how to form a partnership, demonstrates library programming and book selection techniques and shows how libraries can encourage parental involvement and link library resources to Head Start activities.
For information about obtaining the video, write or call the Center for the Book, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-4920, (202) 707-5221.
Other speakers at the Scottsdale workshop included: Phyllis Steckler, president of Oryx Press and of the Arizona Center for the Book; Jeanette Allison Hartman, Early Childhood Development, Arizona State University; Irene Jacobs, Success by Six Children's Action Alliance, Phoenix; Barbara Loveless, Head Start Collaboration Project, Santa Fe; Carole Talan, director, California State Literacy Resource Center; Charles T. Townley, Dean, University Libraries, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces; and Keith Curry Lance, Director of Library Research Service, Colorado Department of Education, Denver.
Special acknowledgment was given during the meeting to conference organizers Deborah Linzer of the Arizona Center and Anne Boni of the LC Center for the Book.