August 14, 2000 International Literacy Day To Be Marked at the Library of Congress on September 8

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: (202) 707-5221

Thirteen major education and literacy organizations will combine resources at the Library of Congress on Sept. 8 to celebrate International Literacy Day. The event, which calls attention to worldwide literacy issues, is open to the public. It will be held at the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., beginning at 9:30 a..m. on Madison Plaza. A formal program will be held from 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. in Madison Hall, and a symposium, "Literacy in the Information Age," will take place in the Mumford Room from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

"The Library of Congress, which collects materials from throughout the world and in more than 460 languages, is an enthusiastic host for this important day," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "Improving literacy skills throughout the world is a daunting but important challenge, and one in which libraries play a vital role. The ability to read is imperative to our survival as a civilization."

UNESCO estimates that 880 million adults throughout the world, two-thirds of them women, do not know how to read or write, and that more than 113 million children do not have access to an adequate education.

The event begins outside on Madison Plaza at 9:30 a.m. with storytelling and "read alouds." Information booths and table displays will highlight "best practices" in reading promotion and literacy development as well as recent information and studies concerning literacy. There also will be celebrity appearances. The program at 10:30 a.m., introduced by Dr. Billington, will feature literacy and education professionals, learners who have recently acquired literacy skills, and the announcement of the International Literacy Awards for 2000. The "Literacy in the Information Age" symposium from 1:30 to 3 p.m. features comments from international literacy experts on the final report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's International Adult Literacy Survey.

The 13 sponsoring organizations are the Association of American Publishers, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the International Literacy Institute, the International Reading Association, the National Institute for Literacy, Reach Out and Read, Reading Is Fundamental, SIL International, United Nations Children's Fund, UNESCO, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Education, and the World Bank.

For further information, contact the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, telephone (202) 707-5221. The Center for the Book was established in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books, reading, libraries and literacy. For information about its program, publications and the activities of its affiliated centers in 40 states and the District of Columbia, visit its Web site at


PR 00-112
ISSN 0731-3527