David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, is donating $5 million to provide major support to the National Book Festival (which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year on Saturday, Sept. 25) for the next five years.
“The ability to learn how to read and love reading got me where I am today,” said Rubenstein, who reads six to eight books a week.
Rubenstein is a member of the Library’s James Madison Council, a private-sector advisory group, and in recent years has been generous with both his time and with funding for cultural and educational institutions in several states. He’s also the incoming chair of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
But before all that, he was a kid whose dad would send him to Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt public library, where he’d check out the maximum number of books allowed each week – 12 – and devour them.
Thomas Jefferson said he could not live without books, and “I am never more happy than when I am alone with my books … it’s one of the joys of my life,” Rubenstein said. But more than that, he said, reading is the foundation of success in life.
The Library’s programs to interest people of all ages in reading and literacy, from its website Read.gov and its Center for the Book to the beloved National Book Festival, can help turn that around, Rubenstein said.
He also called the gift a thank-you to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, for his outstanding career ensuring that the Library of Congress has blazed a trail in the digital world and serves as the world’s greatest national library.
“If Thomas Jefferson were here today, he’d say ‘Dr. Billington, you’ve done a great job’ shepherding his library,” Rubenstein said.
In June a more deluxe version of the National Book Festival website will feature a "vote for your favorite Book Festival author" feature. Available on the site now is a "retrospective" video featuring Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and other organizers, authors and book-lovers, along with several "video vignettes" from past festival authors.
Borders, the official festival book vendor, will also sponsor a draw-a-bookmark contest for kids in its stores, with the winning designs to be distributed as free bookmarks at the festival and featured on the site.