Representatives of educational and civic organizations from the Center for the Book's network of national reading promotion partners met at the Library of Congress on March 20-21 to discuss the importance of literacy and launch "Building a Nation of Readers," the center's national reading promotion campaign for 1997-2000.
More than 50 organizations are active Center for the Book "reading promotion partners." Each works with the center to promote literacy and reading by using themes and ideas developed by the Center for the Book and other groups. Reading promotion partners meet annually at the Library to exchange ideas and learn about Center for the Book themes and projects.
Tara Holland, Miss America 1997, was a special guest on both days. A congressional luncheon sponsored by the National Newspaper Foundation was the featured event on March 20. The foundation is one of the center's reading promotion partners and part of the National Newspaper Association, which represents America's community newspapers. More than 75 members of Congress attended the luncheon in the Library's Montpelier Room. Brief remarks were presented by Dr. Billington and Ms. Holland, who is the official campaign spokesperson for the Center for the Book's "Building a Nation of Readers" campaign.
Dr. Billington opened the March 21 press conference by noting that the Library will observe its bicentenary in the year 2000. He also introduced a special guest, Walter Anderson, editor of Parade magazine and a commissioner of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science.
Press conference highlights included the unveiling of a "Building a Nation of Readers" campaign poster featuring Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, donated by Jim Henson Productions; the opening of the since-closed photography exhibition "Library: The Drama Within," which draws on the book of the same title published in 1996 by the University of New Mexico Press in association with the Center for the Book; and an informal question-and-answer session between Ms. Holland and members of the press. Other highlights were a drawing for the Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) national "Reader of the Year," featuring RIF Chair Lynda Johnson Robb and RIF President Ruth Graves. There was also a program launching the National Institute for Literacy's (NIFL) public awareness campaign, "Literacy: It's a Whole New World." NIFL Deputy Director Carolyn Staley moderated this portion of the program, which featured remarks from Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer (D-Ohio) as well as new adult learners.
Later, organizational representatives discussed their ideas on use of the "Building a Nation of Readers" theme, moderated by Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole. Center for the Book founder, Librarian of Congress Emeritus Daniel J. Boorstin and his wife, Ruth, also participated.
Forty-one organizations participated. They represented a wide range of civic, educational and governmental offices, including Armed Services YMCA, the Association of Youth Museums, Cartoonists Across America, Children's Television Workshop, the Congress of National Black Churches, Everybody Wins, Friends of Libraries USA, the General Federation of Women's Clubs International, Girl Scouts of the USA, the International Reading Association, the Lutheran Church Library Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Association of University Women, the National Council on the Aging, the National Federation of Press Women, the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the U.S. Postal Service, the Weekly Reader Corporation and the Women's National Book Association.
Susan Thompson-Hoffman of the U.S. Department of Education gave a presentation about President Clinton's "America Reads" Challenge ("to make sure that every child is literate by the end of the third grade") and about the Department of Education's "Read*Write*Now" summer reading program.
Live Teleconference Hosted
On May 20, the Center for the Book hosted the Department of Education's monthly "Satellite Town Meeting," which was co-chaired by Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Carol Rasco, the director of the department's "America Reads" Challenge. The live, interactive teleconference was filmed in the Northwest Gallery of the Library's newly restored Jefferson Building. The discussion, which focused on summer reading for children, was broadcast via satellite to thousands of communities nationwide through local cable access channels, the Public Broadcasting System, Channel One and the Discovery Channel. A short film about the renovated Jefferson Building was shown and the reading promotion activities of the Center for the Book were described (the July issue of the LC Information Bulletin will include a report).
Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole is the author of several recent articles and essays, including "Libraries, Literacy, and the Library of Congress" in the May 1997 issue of American Libraries; "Publishing at the Library of Congress: A Brief History," in the summer 1996 issue of Publishing Research Quarterly; and the "Library of Congress" entries in the 1997 edition of Collier's Encyclopedia and the International Encyclopedia of Information and Library Science (Routledge, 1997).
These presentations, which are free and open to the public, will take place in the Mumford Room of the James Madison Memorial Building at 6 p.m. unless otherwise indicated. July 1: historian Pauline Maier (American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence); July 21: writer Patricia Jean Wagner (The Bloomsbury Review Booklover's Guide); Oct. 29: novelist David Grossman (The Zigzag Kid); Oct. 31: historian Wayne A. Wiegand (Irrepressible Reformer: A Biography of Melvil Dewey), 4 p.m.