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November 9, 2012

Library of Congress to Host First International Summit of the Book

Librarian of Congress: Books Are Imperative to an Informed Democracy; Singapore To Host 2013 Summit

The Library of Congress on December 6 and 7 will host the first International Summit of the Book, a gathering of leaders in academia, libraries, culture and technology to debate and discuss the powerful and crucial form of information transmittal: the book.

"Books in their many forms are nothing short of imperative to an informed democracy," said James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress. "The ability to read is the key to a good life and a functioning society. But the book itself – whether on paper or an electronic format – is unique in its power: this long-form presentation of a concept or story is the key to converting mere information into knowledge."

"The world’s national research libraries collect, preserve and ensure access to knowledge and creativity," Billington said. "Through the ongoing International Summit on the Book, these institutions will further the expansion of wisdom and human understanding."

The summit will take place in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. Keynote speeches and panels throughout the two-day event will be free and open to the public. Registration is required at; the site will be available beginning Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Speakers for the two-day event will include David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group and a major supporter of literacy initiatives at the Library of Congress; Rep. John Larson of Connecticut, who was instrumental in conceiving the summit; Ismail Serageldin, director of the Library of Alexandria and director of the World Digital Library Executive Council; Rep. Elizabeth Eisenstein, historian of early printing; Caroline Brazier, director of The British Library; Anton Likhomanov, director general of the National Library of Russia; Glòria Pérez-Salmerón, director of the National Library of Spain; Ramón Mujica Pinilla, director of the Biblioteca Nacional del Peru; and John Kgwale Tsebe, national librarian of the National Library of South Africa.

Also appearing will be rare-book experts Michael Suarez of the University of Virginia and Mark Dimunation and Daniel DeSimone of the Library of Congress; Marie Arana, an author, writer-at-large for the Washington Post and senior consultant to the Librarian of Congress; Tom Allen, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers; James Shapiro, vice president of the Authors Guild; Nan Talese, senior vice president and publisher at Doubleday; Geoff Kloske, president and publisher at Riverhead/Penguin books; Karen Lotz, president and publisher at Candlewick Press; and Niko Pfund, president and publisher at Oxford University Press.

The Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office Maria Pallante will speak, as will author Walter Dean Myers, currently designated by the Librarian of Congress as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

A complete schedule will be announced in coming weeks.

The summit is made possible by the generous support of the Newman’s Own Foundation, which turns all net profits and royalties from the sale of Newman’s Own products into charitable donations.

"For Paul Newman, the written word and books were magical things, which engaged the mind in all of its facets to join in whatever journey was written on the pages," said Bob Forrester, President and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation.

"The International Summit of the Book is a wonderful celebration of the role the book has played in sharing knowledge and the universality of the human experience," he said. " We could not imagine a world without books, and the Newman’s Own Foundation is honored to be the sponsor of the summit."

The 2012 International Summit of the Book begins what library leaders envision as an annual global meeting of minds to discuss and promote the book as a crucial format for conveying societies’ scholarship and culture. The event will conclude with a ceremony recognizing The National Library of Singapore, which will host the next summit in August of 2013.

"It is an honor for Singapore to host the Second International Summit of the Book following the inaugural summit organized by the prestigious Library of Congress," said Elaine Ng, CEO of the National Library Board of Singapore.

"We look forward to an insightful debate on the evolving concept of the book from an Asian perspective," she said. "We are privileged to have Professor Tommy Koh, Singapore’s Ambassador-At-Large and former Ambassador to the United Nations, as chairman of the organizing committee. We warmly welcome everyone to the summit, as well as the World Library and Information Congress 2013, which will be hosted by Singapore August 17-23, 2013."

The International Summit on the Book at the Library of Congress is part of a larger "Celebration of the Book" at the Library, which encompasses multiple events and programs, including the National Book Festival and the "Books That Shaped America" exhibition. An online survey soliciting feedback on the "Books That Shaped America" list attracted comments from nearly 9,400 readers.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at

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PR 12-193
ISSN 0731-3527

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