The Library of Congress has approved an application from the Maine Humanities Council to become the home of the Maine Center for the Book.
"We are very happy to welcome Maine, a state with a rich literary heritage, to our growing network of affiliated state centers," said John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
The Maine Center for the Book will be one of four divisions of the Maine Humanities Council. The new statewide center will provide leadership in connecting appropriate state organizations in several activities, including: promoting reading as an essential life-long activity; celebrating Maine's rich literary traditions, past and present; and drawing together members of the state's community of readers and writers who treasure books and the ideas within them.
"We are delighted with this opportunity to increase state awareness about the central role of reading in our lives," said Dorothy Schwartz, executive director of the Maine Humanities Council. "Our first priority as the Maine Center for the Book is to intensify our services to those who are nonreaders or infrequent readers through our new family literacy programming."
For information about the Maine Center for the Book, contact Dorothy Schwartz, Executive Director, Maine Humanities Council, P.O. Box 7202, Portland, ME 04112; telephone (207) 773-5051 or fax (207) 773-2416.
New Book Describes the Pleasures of Reading as Seen by Contemporary Writers
In association with the Center for the Book, Milkweed Editions of Minneapolis has just published The Most Wonderful Books: Writers on Discovering the Pleasures of Reading.
Edited by writer Michael Dorris (1945-1997) who wrote the introduction, and writer and publisher Emilie Buchwald, this collection of short essays from 57 of today's best writers is an eloquent testament to the importance of books. The contributors, although they came to reading in many different ways, remember how books affected their lives. They include writers Nicholson Baker, Charles Baxter, Alan Cheuse, Gretel Ehrlich, Doris Grumbach, Thom Gunn, Kathleen Norris, Howard Norman and Katherine Paterson, and poets J.D. Clatchy, Naomi Shihab Nye and Poet Laureate Robert Pinksy.
In his afterword, Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole describes the center's activities and "Building a Nation of Readers," the center's national reading promotion theme for the years 1997-2000.
A 297-page book, The Most Wonderful Books sells for $14.95. It is available in bookstores around the nation and in the Library of Congress Sales Shop; phone (202) 707-0204.
Autumn Is Book Fair Season
The Center for the Book and the LC Sales Shop participated on Sept. 18-20 in the Fourth Annual Washington International Antiquarian Book Fair, held at the D.C. Convention Center. The exhibit booth featured book-related products and Center for the Book publications; the center also distributed brochures promoting its "Building a Nation of Readers" national reading theme. A booth highlight was "Books That Shaped America," a 16-panel facsimile traveling exhibit developed jointly with the Publishing Office and SIRS Inc.
Center for the Book Director John Cole, Program Officer Maurvene Williams and Special Assistant Pat White participated in the "New York Is Book Country" book fair on Fifth Avenue in New York City on Sept. 21. The Center for the Book shared two exhibit booths with two different reading promotion partners. The first, located near 57th Street and in cooperation with Friends of Libraries U.S.A. (FOLUSA) and the American Library Association, featured a "read-a- thon" that included authors, celebrities and willing fairgoers. The second, a five-booth display between 50th and 52nd streets, presented the 1996 "50 Books/50 Covers" exhibition of award-winning books and book covers as judged by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). These books and covers are available as part of a traveling exhibit sponsored jointed by AIGA and the Center for the Book. For information, contact Gabriela Mirensky, AIGA at (212) 807-1990, extension 231 or send e-mail to [email protected]
John Cole was a special guest on Sept. 26-27, in Reno at the Great Basin Book Festival which, on Sept. 26, featured Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky as a speaker. Mr. Cole also was a guest on Oct. 24-25 in Springfield at the Illinois Center for the Book's third annual Illinois Authors Festival and Book Fair.
Centre for the Book Established in Wales
Citing the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Centre for the Book in the British Library as forerunners, a new Centre for the Book has been established in Wales. It is a project of the National Library of Wales, the Welsh Book Council, and the Department of Information and Library Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
The goal of the new cooperative endeavor among these three national institutions is to "formalize cooperation and shared development in order to promote the book in Wales." Through research, exhibitions, lectures, joint production of catalogs and other projects, the new Centre for the Book in Wales will reflect the book's "contribution to Welsh culture in every field."
The first meeting was held at the Welsh Books Council on March 13. D. Hywel E. Roberts, one of the center's founders, explained its purpose:
"This is not a center in the sense of a building but an undertaking to collaborate in the field of books. Many have predicted the demise of the book -- the world of technology taking its place, according to some, but there is plenty of life left in the book yet and we will be giving attention to every aspect. These include: who are the authors, who publishes and why, where can books be bought and who reads them, who collects them, what are the prospects for the next century, not to mention looking back at aspects of its history."
For further information, contact professor Hywel E. Roberts, Department of Information and Library Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Wales; telephone 01970 622189.
SHARP 1997 and 1998
Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole participated in the fifth annual conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP), held in England at the University of Cambridge on July 4-7, 1997. On July 4, he and Ian Willison, University of London, co-chaired a half-day reporting session on current developments in the study of the history of books and the history of libraries. On July 5, he chaired a conference session on "Modern American Publishing."
The sixth annual SHARP conference (the second was held at the Library of Congress in 1994) will be held in Vancouver, Canada, on July 16-20, 1998, at Simon Fraser University under the auspices of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing. Conference themes will include: traditions of the written word in Asia and the Americas; interactions and boundaries between print and oral culture; book arts, text and image; and books in ancient, medieval and Renaissance periods. For information, call (604) 291-5093; fax (604) 291-5098; or e-mail: [email protected]; or visit the World Wide Web site at http://www.sharpweb.org/.