The awarding of Boorstin Center for the Book awards to Vermont and Oklahoma, the official announcement of the creation of the Nevada Center for the Book, and a lively discussion of reading promotion and literacy projects were highlights of the ninth annual state center "idea exchange day," held at the Library on May 4.
Twenty-six states sent representatives or delegations; in all, 60 reading promoters from around the country shared ideas and information.
"State center day is part educational experience and part pep rally," said Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole. "Each of our affiliated state centers has an opportunity to report, brag a little and of course to borrow ideas that work from the other centers. The enthusiasm and creativity of the state centers is what makes the Center for the Book endeavor a success story."
On behalf of Librarian of Congress Emeritus Daniel J. Boorstin and his wife, Ruth, Mr. Cole presented the 1998 Boorstin Center for the Book Awards to the Vermont and Oklahoma Centers for the Book. Each of the annual awards includes a cash prize of $5,000. The awards are supported by a gift from Dr. Boorstin, who founded the Center for the Book in 1977.
The National Award, won by the Vermont center, recognizes the contribution that a state center has made to the Center for the Book's overall program. The Vermont center's recruitment and involvement of other state centers in reading promotion initiatives such as "Mother Goose Asks Why?" was cited in the award, which was accepted by Vermont center Executive Director Sally Anderson. The Vermont center became an official affiliate in 1994.
The State Award, won by Oklahoma, recognizes a specific state project or initiative. In presenting the award to Oklahoma Center for the Book Director Glenda Carlile, Mr. Cole cited the success of the Oklahoma center's annual Oklahoma Book Awards program. The Oklahoma center became a Library of Congress affiliate in 1986 and established its awards program in 1990.
Mr. Cole also presented recognition certificates to 1997 Boorstin Award winners Florida (National Award) and Nebraska (State Award).
The new Nevada Center for the Book is located at the Nevada State Library and Archives in Carson City. Coordinator Martha Gould and Bonnie Buckley of the State Library represented Nevada on May 4 and described forthcoming projects such as the development of a literary map, participation in the annual Nevada Day celebration and, with the Nevada Humanities Council, sponsorship of the annual Great Basin Book Festival.
The discussions on May 4 were organized around two major topics: organizational issues and programming. Organizational concerns included staffing, fund-raising, advisory boards, Web sites (22 state centers have Web sites, all linked to the LC Center for the Book's site) and relationships with other organizations.
The programming discussions included a review of current projects in which many state centers participate, including the "Building a Nation of Readers" national reading promotion campaign; the "Letters About Literature" student essay contest (21 state centers are involved); and the "River of Words" environmental poetry and art project. The list of new or prospective projects in which state centers will participate included the Library of Congress Bicentennial in the year 2000, particularly the "Favorite Poem" project initiated by Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky and supported directly by the Center for the Book; the "Mother Goose Asks Why?" science book and family literacy project of the Vermont Center for the Book; "Literary Heritage USA," a project with Friends of Libraries U.S.A.; and the Viburnum Foundation Family Literacy Project, which will operate in eight rural states in 1998-99.
Each state center presented highlights about its activities and future plans. Examples included: "Wisconsin Authors Speak," which brings authors to small communities throughout the state; a children's writing camp (Montana); the annual Illinois Authors Book Fair; a family literacy program that can be replicated in different parts of the state (Connecticut); and "New Books, New Readers" book discussion groups for adults who are new or infrequent readers and the "Born to Read" family literacy project.
Other plans include the 1998 Ohio Summer Reading program ("Drop Anchor in a Good Book"); a new fund to support the Michigan Center for the Book; California Literary Landmarks; Alaska's Writing Rendezvous and its Contribution to Literacy in Alaska Awards; the Neighborhood Reading Program (Vermont); the "Write from Maryland" author recognition program; Choices for the 21st Century and Let's Talk About It discussion programs (North Carolina); a program featuring Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky that also was a fund-raiser (New Mexico); a traveling exhibit, "From Clay Tablets to Compact Discs: The Story of the Book" (Texas); a new host site (the Nebraska Library Commission) for Nebraska; and planning grants from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund for "Audiences for Literature Network," a literary initiative (Florida and Washington).
"The Poets Among Us" reading and discussion series (Washington); the Young Fugitive Writers' Workshop (Tennessee); the Virginia Authors' Room and Virginia Reads poster project; a literary guide for the state of Georgia; an annual Celebration of the Book and a guide to the state's literary heritage (Missouri); an annual celebration of Louisiana historical writing; and the "Books & Co." author-interview television program (Arizona).
Special guests and speakers at the meeting included Center for the Book consultants Virginia Mathews (Viburnum Family Literacy Project) and Cathy Gourley ("Letters About Literature" project); Pamela Michael, director of the "River of Words" project; Sandy Dolnick, executive director of Friends of Libraries U.S.A., Susan Graseck and Megan Secotore, Choices Education Project; Jim Kelly of the University of Massachusetts -- Amherst, who described efforts under way to create a Massachusetts Center for the Book; and Esther Fann, representing the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America.
In his remarks on the "state" of the Center for the Book, John Cole reported on the year's activities and the continued growth of the center's network of affiliated state centers and organizational partners. He emphasized the increasing importance of the center's site on the World Wide Web, which has expanded into a significant and increasingly popular resource for the entire book and reading community.
Looking ahead, he reported that William R. Ferris, the new chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, was eager to strengthen partnerships between state humanities councils and state centers for the book. Currently two state centers (Maine and Tennessee) actually are divisions of state humanities councils, and many other state centers receive substantial support from state humanities councils. Another new direction is the creation of local centers for the book that are affiliated with the state center. The Virginia Center for the Book has taken the lead and, he noted, brought copies of its affiliation guidelines to the meeting.
For information about the Center for the Book and its affiliated state center program and for the Web site addresses of state centers, contact the Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, DC 20540-4920, (202) 707-5221 (telephone), (202) 707-0269 (fax), or visit the center's Web site.