The 35 official state affiliates of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, like the LC center itself, depend primarily on grants or donations from the private sector for program support. Recently, three state centers -- Vermont, Florida and Washington -- have received substantial foundation grants that will help shape the nature of their activities in the years ahead.
Vermont Receives $1.5 Million Grant from the National Science Foundation
"What can you learn about science from a 300-year-old goose?" asks a Vermont Center for the Book brochure.
"Plenty!" the National Science Foundation (NSF) asserts through its recent award of $632,537 in the first year of a $1.5 million grant to support the Vermont center's Mother Goose Asks "Why?" informal science education program. NSF recently announced the three-year award, which will enable the Vermont Center for the Book to train facilitators to conduct Mother Goose Asks "Why?" programs in 14 states. Nine of the 14 state participants are state centers for the book in Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Wyoming and Vermont.
Mother Goose Asks "Why?" combines literature and science to help preschool and primary-grade children use thought-provoking picture books, activities and discussion to learn basic science. The grant comes on the heels of a successful three-year pilot project involving more than 2,000 Vermont parents, child-care providers, preschool educators and primary-grade teachers. As a result, more than 6,000 young Vermonters read and discussed books and conducted experiments in order to understand how science shaped their everyday lives.
In September 1998, a team from the Vermont Center for the Book will spend five days in Baltimore training representatives from the 14 participants. LC Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole will take part. On subsequent visits to the states, Vermont Center for the Book staff members will work directly with local facilitators to monitor the success of the program.
The NSF grant also supports the creation of You Can Count on Mother Goose, a reading and discussion mathematics program for preschool and primary-grade children, which also will be piloted in Vermont.
For further information, contact the Vermont Center for the Book, 256 Haywood Drive, Chester, VT 05143; telephone (802) 875-2751; fax (802) 875-2790.
Florida Awarded $150,000 Grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund
The Florida Center for the Book, located at the Broward County Library in Fort Lauderdale, has received a three-year, $150,000 "Audiences for Literature Network" grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund.
The Florida center, established in 1984 as the first state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, will use its grant to bring literary programs to Broward County, Venice and the Tampa Bay area. The overall project goal, which complements the Florida center's established purpose of "bringing readers and writers together to promote books, reading and libraries," is to increase audiences for literature. The project is part of a national initiative that involves eight literary arts centers.
Florida projects supported by the new grant will include encouraging K-12 students to enter contests related to River of Words, a three-year series that brings the literature of nature, especially poetry, into public and private parks. The 100th birthday of Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway will be celebrated in 1999 with panel discussions with Hemingway experts and a reading discussion series and an exhibit. In a series on literary laughter, literary dramatists will present the writings and personalities of Dorothy Parker, Will Rogers and Walt Whitman, along with discussions of their books.
For further information, contact the Florida Center for the Book, Broward County Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, phone (954) 357-7404; fax (954) 357-7399.
Washington Receives $175,000 Grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund
The Washington Center for the Book, located at the Seattle Public Library, has received a three-year $175,014 Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund "Audience for Literature Network" grant. It will enable the Washington Center for the Book, which was established in 1989, to strengthen its program of working with libraries, other cultural organizations and local radio stations to create writer-in-residence programs with nationally known authors. The project, "If All of Seattle Read the Same Book," will begin in September 1998.
"This is the largest grant ever awarded to the Washington Center for the Book," said Nancy Pearl, the center's executive director. "Our goal is to connect people to the experience of literature through reading and discussion. We believe readers are eager to share their impressions and that an appreciation of a book is deepened through talking with other readers."
The author residencies will enable the people of Seattle to enjoy three full days of free programs by a major author. This year's featured author is Russell Banks, author of the acclaimed Cloud-splitter and The Sweet Hereafter, among other novels. During each author's visit to Seattle, Nancy Pearl will host a live radio interview, including call-in questions and answers. A real-time discussion between the author and readers over the Internet will take place from the Central Library's Community Learning Lab. There also will be meetings in neighborhood libraries for library book group members to discuss books with their authors.
Cowboy Hall of Fame Hosts 1998 Oklahoma Book Awards
Writers, readers and book lovers from throughout Oklahoma gathered on March 14 at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City for the Ninth Annual Oklahoma Book Awards ceremony. Center for the Book Program officer Maurvene D. Williams presented opening remarks at this "celebration of Oklahoma books and authors" sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book.
The awards program, widely acknowledged as a model for other states, recognizes authors of books published in the previous year and written by Oklahomans or about Oklahoma in five categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children/young adult, and design/illustration. In addition to these five categories, the board of directors of the Oklahoma Center for the Book selects one person each year to be honored for a body of work. This award, the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, is named for the Norman, Okla., historian who served as the first president of the Oklahoma Center for the Book.
For further information about the Oklahoma Book Awards or the Oklahoma Center for the Book, contact Glenda Carlile, Executive Director, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, 200 N.E. 18th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73105; or call (800) 522-8116 toll free statewide.
New Mexico Honors Young Readers
On May 9, at the Albuquerque Public Library, Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole and Marsie Cate, coordinator of the New Mexico Center for the Book, presented awards to the student winners of two Center for the Book statewide contests: Letters About Literature and River of Words.
The goal of the New Mexico Center for the Book, which was established in 1996, is to become a significant statewide resource for promoting "the importance of literature, literacy, books and the printed word." On April 20, the New Mexico center hosted a poetry reading in Santa Fe by Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. The event was sponsored by the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, which provides grant support for a wide range of poetry programming. The Friends of the Albuquerque Public Library also provided support. Another event featuring Mr. Pinsky, whose term of office as poet laureate has been extended until 1999, has been scheduled for 1999.
For further information, contact Marsie Cate, New Mexico Center for the Book, 3922 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87505; phone (505) 983-1516; fax (505) 983-1391.
Future Public Programs
Forthcoming speakers in the Center's "Books and Beyond" author series include: Scott Ferris, Rockwell Kent's Forgotten Landscapes (Oct. 6); Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (Oct. 20); and William Styron and James L.W. West III, William Styron: A Life (Nov. 4).