September 5, 2001 National Book Festival to be Held September 8

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189; Crystal Wright (202) 828-8869
Public Contact: (888) 714-4696

Note to assignment editors: To arrange to cover the Festival, register at the press tent on the east lawn of the U.S. Capitol beginning at 9 a.m. on September 8. Media wishing to cover the opening ceremony must arrive for pre-set by 6:30 a.m. on the Neptune Plaza in front of the Thomas Jefferson Building.

Some 60 award-winning authors and illustrators of books for both adults and children will participate in the first National Book Festival on Saturday, September 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Library of Congress and on the east lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The festival, which is hosted by Mrs. Laura Bush and sponsored by the Library of Congress, is free and open to the public. The First Lady and the Librarian of Congress will officially open the festival at 9:30 a.m. on September 8 in a brief public ceremony on the Neptune Plaza of Library of Congress. (Pre-set for press is 6:30 a.m.)

Authors who will read from their works include Stephen Ambrose, Natalie Babbitt, Robin Cook, Billy Collins, Sue Grafton, Larry L. King, David Levering Lewis, David McCullough, Walter Mosley, Katherine Patterson, Richard Peck, Gary Soto, and Scott Turow.

Additional activities will include book-signings, musical performances, storytelling, panel discussions, demonstrations of illustration and new technologies, as well as special readings from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. at the Children and Young Adults Pavilion by 15 NBA players representing the National Basketball Association's national reading campaign, "Read to Achieve."

The Librarian of Congress and Mrs. Bush hope that the National Book Festival will encourage American families to develop a lifelong love of reading. The event, which is free and open to the public, is made possible by generous donations from Charter Sponsors: AT&T, WorkPlaceUSA, the Library's James Madison Council; Patron: The Washington Post; and Contributors: AOL Time Warner , AOL Time Warner Book Group, Borders Books and Music, Chevy Chase Bank, The Coca-Cola Company, Half Price Books Records Magazines, LeapFrog, the National Basketball Association, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Scholastic Inc., UPS, and US Airways.

At a news conference announcing the festival July 30, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said, "We must all try, in every way we can, to send the message that reading is critical to our lives and to the life of our nation. At the Library of Congress, we are anxious to make our unique collections available throughout the world, which we are doing through our two Web sites, 'American Memory' ( and 'America's Library' ( These two sites draw students and teachers, as well as kids and families, into reading about history through original photographs, diaries, letters, films, and maps. These primary source materials add another dimension, but they also encourage deeper reading in books."

"I am proud to join with Dr. Billington and the Library of Congress in hosting this year's National Book Festival," said Mrs. Bush on July 30. "This event gives us an opportunity to inspire parents and care givers to read to children as early as possible and to encourage reading as a lifelong activity," she added. "I look forward to welcoming book lovers of all ages to our nation's capital to celebrate the magic of reading and storytelling." Mrs. Bush's support of this festival builds on her leadership in creating an annual book festival as first lady of Texas.

Pavilions will be set up on the east lawn of the U.S. Capitol with both adult and children's authors reading excerpts from their works throughout the day. Additional pavilions will be devoted to "Great Ideas for Promoting Reading, Literacy, and Libraries," "History and Current Events," "Mystery & Suspense," "Fiction and Imagination," "Children and Young Adults," and "Storytelling." Book-signings, book sales, and panel presentations on children's books, mysteries, and poetry will be held in the Library's Jefferson Building. A session on "Biography: Telling America's Stories" will take place in the Madison Building. The Library's exhibition galleries and reading rooms will be open and a wide range of special programs to inform and entertain visitors of all ages on such topics as children's book illustration, copyright, and how to preserve family photos and documents will be held in the Jefferson Building.

The day also will include demonstrations in the Library's National Digital Library Learning Center in the Madison Building on computer learning featuring the Library's Web sites, and talking books and new technologies from the Library's services for people with disabilities. Musical groups will perform throughout the day in front of the Jefferson Building and food will be available on the plaza of the Madison Building across the street.

The Library of Congress, the world's largest repository of knowledge and creativity, has been sustained for 201 years by Congress and serves all Americans in a variety of ways. It is the research arm of Congress through the Congressional Research Service and the Law Library; the protector of creativity through the Copyright Office; an unparalleled collector of more than 121 million items, including 27 million books and serial publications, millions of prints, photographs, films, maps, recordings, broadcasts, and manuscripts. It promotes reading through its Center for the Book and Children's Literature Center. The Library catalogs for libraries everywhere, and serves as a library for people with disabilities nationwide. And now it has become a national digital library on the Internet, serving the world at

For more information about the National Book Festival, call toll-free (888) 714-4696 or consult the Festival's Web site at


PR 01-127
ISSN 0731-3527