The Library has approved a proposal for a New Mexico Center for the Book that will be affiliated with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The New Mexico State Library in Santa Fe will serve as the host institution.
The official announcement was made on May 6 at "state center idea exchange day" at the Library of Congress, which was attended by New Mexico State Librarian Karen Watkins and Desiree Mays, a staff member of the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), a member of the New Mexico Center for the Book's steering committee and the new organization's treasurer.
"The New Mexico Center will be statewide and reflect New Mexico's culturally diverse population; our programs will also address New Mexico's relatively high illiteracy rate," Ms. Mays stated. "Using libraries and arts councils, we're setting up regional centers throughout the state. Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Cruces are set up, and there's strong interest in Ruidoso and Gallup."
The new center's mission statement emphasizes the promotion of books and the printed word through acknowledgment of New Mexico's "rich past and ever-changing present," as well as the state's "unique blessings of culture, oral tradition, multilanguage families, varieties of community life and our grounding in new technologies, research, and ideas."
The New Mexico Center for the Book is a nonprofit organization that will be supported by grants, individual memberships, donations, and in-kind services. Other steering committee members are Marcie Cate, who is serving as interim coordinator, Ann Paden, poet and literary publisher Ann Racuya-Robbins, and Marianne O'Shaughnessy of Red Crane Books. Robert Sheldon, literary projects coordinator of WESTAF, served as an adviser in the center's creation.
For information, contact Marcie Cate, 3922 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87505, phone (505) 983-1516, fax (505) 983-1391.
1996 Oklahoma Book Awards
Council Oak Books of Tulsa and historian John Hope Franklin were the big winners at the seventh annual Oklahoma Book Awards ceremony, held March 9 at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City. The awards program, which honors books written by Oklahomans or about Oklahoma, is sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book, which is located in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.
"One of the purposes of a state center is to celebrate and promote a state's literary heritage," said Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole. "State book awards programs are a wonderful way of recognizing a state's literary culture, past and present, and Oklahoma's awards program is one of the most successful in the country."
The 1996 award competition honored 34 finalists from more than 160 entries. In addition to the ceremony itself, the event is marked by readings, receptions and autographing sessions in bookstores and libraries.
Council Oak Books received medals in the categories of nonfiction, poetry, and design/illustration. The nonfiction winner was A Very Small Farm, written by Collinsville farmer William Paul Winchester. Mr. Winchester writes about establishing and maintaining his farm - its history and his garden, home and animals.
Francine Ringold of Tulsa won the poetry medal for her book The Trouble with Voices. She has taught literature, creative writing and theater at the University of Tulsa, in the Oklahoma State Arts in Education and Artist in the Schools programs, at the Oklahoma School of the Deaf and at the Tulsa Center for the Physically Limited.
Tulsan Kim Doner, illustrator of Green Snake Ceremony, a children's book written by Sherrin Watkins of Okmulgee, received the design/illustration medal. When it was presented, Ms. Doner said, "This is like writing a letter to a movie star and having them write back!" She often visits schools, explaining the book design process from the story idea to the art and then to the finished book.
The fiction medal was won by Billie Letts for Where the Heart Is, her first novel, published by Warner Books. A retired Southeastern Oklahoma State University professor, Ms. Letts lives in Durant. On receiving her award, she said, "I listen to the words of Oklahomans: some are still with us, some are gone. But I'm still listening."
The Oklahoma Book Award for children's books/young adult literature went, for the second time, to Anna Myers, who lives and teaches in Chandler. The 1996 medal was awarded for Graveyard Girl, published by Walker Books. She won the 1993 medal for her book Red Dirt Jessie.
In addition to the awards in different categories, each year the Oklahoma Center for the Book honors an Oklahoman for a body of work. The 1996 Arrell Gibson Award, named for the University of Oklahoma historian who was the first president of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, went to historian and biographer John Hope Franklin. The presentation of the Gibson Award was made by Hannah Atkins, former Oklahoma Secretary of State and a member of the national Center for the Book's first advisory board, who remarked, "Dr. Franklin was my first history teacher, and I am honored to present this award to him."
Dr. Franklin, who last autumn received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is from Rentiesville, south of Muskogee. The author of many books, he is the James B. Duke professor emeritus of history at Duke University. His most famous work, From Slavery to Freedom, originally published in 1947, has sold more than 3 million copies. He now has 105 honorary doctorates.
On March 10, the day after the Oklahoma Book Awards ceremony, Dr. Franklin presented a lecture at the Rudisill Library in Tulsa, an event sponsored by the Tulsa Library Trust and the Oklahoma Center for the Book. His talk focused on the future of democracy in the United States. He noted that "instead of wringing our hands, we must become involved. Things won't change until more people vote. In the Philippines, a country that we perceive as poorer than we are, and somehow less sophisticated, 90 percent of the citizenry votes."
John Cole Receives DLCA President's Award
John Y. Cole, the Center for the Book's director since its creation in 1977 and a 30-year Library of Congress veteran, has received the 1996 President's Award of the District of Columbia Library Association (DCLA) for his "outstanding contributions to the library community." The award recognizes Dr. Cole's leadership of the Center for the Book and its advocacy program on behalf of books, reading and libraries; his many contributions to the Library of Congress as an institution; and his work in helping DCLA mark its centennial in 1994 - particularly with his book Capital Libraries and Librarians: A Brief History of the District of Columbia Library Association (1994).
The DCLA President's Award, officially titled the Ainsworth Rand Spofford Award, was established in 1990. It is named for the man who served as Librarian of Congress from 1864 to 1897 and as DCLA's first president in 1894-95. The first recipient was Elizabeth W. Stone, dean of Catholic University's School of Library and Information Science. Hardy R. Franklin, director of the District of Columbia Public Library, received the honor in 1995. Dr. Cole is the first recipient from the LC.
"This award has special meaning for me, said Dr. Cole, who noted that his Ph.D. dissertation from George Washington University in 1971 was about Spofford and the history of the Library. "Spofford inspired me, and I hope someday to write a full-length biography about his life and career."
Dr. Cole came to the Library of Congress in 1966 and worked in the Congressional Research Service and the Reference Department before becoming chair, in 1976, of the Library-wide Task Force on Goals, Organization and Planning established by then Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin. In 1977, when the task force's work ended, Dr. Cole became director of the newly established Center for the Book.
Since 1978, he has written five books and edited 14 publications for the Center for the Book. In addition to his duties as the center's director, from March 1990 until February 1992, he served as the Library's acting associate librarian for cultural affairs and, from September 1993 until May 1995, as its acting director of publishing.