"We're surprised -- and thrilled," said Virginia Center for the Book Executive Director Deborah Hocutt on learning that the Virginia center had won the 1999 Boorstin National Center for the Book Award.
Her thoughts were echoed a few minutes later by Madeline Matson, director of the Missouri Center for the Book, when the Library's Center for the Book director, John Y. Cole, announced that the Missouri center had won the 1999 Boorstin State Center for the Book Award. Each of these annual citations includes a cash prize of $5,000.
The personal presentation of the Boorstin State Center Awards by Librarian of Congress Emeritus Daniel J. Boorstin and his wife, Ruth, was a highlight of the 10th annual state center "idea exchange day," held at the Library on May 3. Dr. Boorstin established the Center for the Book in 1977. When he retired in 1987, he and Mrs. Boorstin created an endowment to support the center.
A reception at the end of the day included officials and representatives from the American Library Association, the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science and Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA). Dr. Billington congratulated the Boorstin Award winners and Mr. Cole, the center's director since 1977, for fulfilling the Boorstins' goal of creating a national catalyst for promoting books and reading.
The purpose of the annual "idea exchange" meeting is for the coordinators of the 36 state centers affiliated with the national center to exchange information and ideas about their respective programs. "Invariably, it's a terrific day" said Mr. Cole. "Each year I am inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication of our state center coordinators -- both the veterans and new coordinators. And there always are new twists. This year much time was spent learning about and discussing cooperative partnerships that have been developed by and among the state centers themselves."
The National Award, won by Virginia, recognizes the contribution that a state center has made to the Center for the Book's overall program. The Virginia Center for the Book's initiatives included the sponsorship of a "Virginia Authors Room" at the Library of Virginia, the creation of a listserv for all 36 affiliated centers and the establishment of the first statewide system of local affiliates. Florida and Vermont are the previous National Award winners.
The State Award, won by Missouri, recognizes specific successful projects. Mr. Cole cited Missouri's annual Celebration of the Book and its creation of databases for information about Missouri authors and the Missouri community of the book. Nebraska and Oklahoma are the previous winners.
The continued growth of the state center network was one of the topics discussed on May 3. The new Utah Center for the Book, located at the Salt Lake City Public Library, received special recognition. The Utah center was represented by Blair Felton, who reported that the new center's mission was "to celebrate, honor and promote interest in books, reading and the literary and book arts culture and heritage of Utah and the West." Salt Lake City librarian Nancy Tessman, who took the initiative in creating the Utah center, was also present. The District of Columbia, Massachusetts and New Jersey, all potential homes of new state centers, sent representatives to the meeting.
In his remarks Mr. Cole noted one major change regarding "host" institutions: The Montana Center for the Book has moved from the Montana State Library in Helena to the Montana Committee on the Humanities in Missoula. Thus it is now the third state center to be located in a state humanities council -- Maine and Tennessee are the other two. Mr. Cole also reminded state centers that their affiliation with the Library of Congress must be renewed every three years and that applications from the 16 centers due for renewal in 1999 must be received by Dec. 1. He also stressed the growing importance of the Center for the Book's Web site, which has expanded dramatically and become a heavily used resource for the entire book and reading community.
First-time participants in the annual "idea exchange day" were Tricia Brown (Alaska), Jocelyn Jacobson (Arizona), Robert Daseler (California), Christiane Citron (Colorado), Denise Pendleton (Maine), Jackie Payne (Michigan), Pat Coleman (Minnesota), Mark Sherouse (Montana), Katherine Walter (Nebraska), Leona Wright (Nevada) and Floyd Dickman (Ohio).
Center for the Book Program Officer Maurvene D. Williams presented the spring 1999 edition of her 41-page compilation, the State Centers for the Book Handbook (right). Its major sections are:
- "Profiles of the State Centers," which provides information about each center's founding, mission, host institution, coordinator, funding, publicity, administration, satellites and activities; and
- "State Center Projects by Topic: A Sampling," which provides information about book and author awards, book discussion groups, book fairs, festivals and other celebrations of the book and writer; exhibitions, lectures, seminars and workshops; publishing projects, radio, television and other media projects; writers projects; and participation in three national projects: Letters About Literature, Mother Goose Asks "Why?" and River of Words.
Additional sections include directory information about the coordinators, a list of state center Web sites, guidelines for establishing state centers and a subject index. Copies of the Handbook are available without charge (see below).
Discussions during the day featured reports from each state center and the sharing of ideas about administrative isues and programming. Special guests and speakers included Center for the Book consultants Virginia Mathews (Viburnum Family Literacy Project) and Cathy Gourley (Letters About Literature Project); Carole Moultray of Kings College, Pa., also representing the Letters About Literature project; Pamela Michael, director of the River of Words project; Nina Cobb, Library of America; and Sandy Dolnick, executive director of Friends of Libraries U.S.A.
For information about the Center for the Book and its affiliated state center program or for a copy of the 1999 State Center Handbook, contact the Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, DC 20540-4920, (202) 707-5221; fax (202) 707-0269; or visit the center's Web site at www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook.