September 26, 2009 Library of Congress 2009 National Book Festival Attracts More Than 130,000 Book Lovers to the National Mall
Ninth annual National Book Festival promotes literacy and education in the digital age and beyond
More than 130,000 book-lovers gathered Saturday on the National Mall for the ninth annual National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress with Honorary Chairs President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Festival-goers celebrated creativity and imagination with their favorite authors, illustrators and poets in standing-room-only pavilions, including Let’s Read America; the Pavilion of the States; Children; Teens & Children; Fiction & Fantasy; Mysteries & Thrillers; History & Biography; Poetry & Prose; and the Library of Congress pavilion, which featured Web 2.0 tools and technologies for visitors to interact with the Library’s vast resources.
“The National Book Festival has again been a marvelous celebration of reading, and was enormous fun for everyone,” said Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. “The Library of Congress has embarked on many new and exciting opportunities this year to engage book-lovers of all ages, leading education into the digital age and beyond.”
For those who were unable to attend the festival or missed a pavilion, the authors’ presentations are available as webcasts on the festival homepage (www.loc.gov/bookfest).
There was something for everyone at this year’s festival. Highlights included:
- The launch of the Library’s newest literacy initiative, Read.gov, with the unveiling of the yearlong online story “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure.” 2008 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka was among the many award-winning authors who will be adding new chapters to the ongoing story every two weeks.
- To keep festival-goers up to date on the latest happenings at the festival, the Library of Congress launched its first-ever mobile text campaign. By texting ‘BOOK’ to 61399, mobile-phone users could opt in to receive the latest festival announcements, as well as author presentation and signing schedules.
- Festival-goers also had the option to receive updates for this year’s event such as author activities, day-of event details and more, by following the Library on Twitter (@librarycongress, hashtag #nbf) or becoming a fan of the Library on Facebook (www.facebook.com/libraryofcongress).
- Nearly 80 best-selling authors gave presentations including John Irving, John Grisham, David Baldacci, George Pelecanos, Jodi Picoult, Jon Scieszka, Kate DiCamillo, Lois Lowry, Judy Blume, celebrity chef Paula Deen, James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks, Lee Child, Julia Alvarez, Junot Diaz, Annette Gordon-Reed, Ken Burns, Gwen Ifill and U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan.
- New to the festival, the Digital Bookmobile, a high-tech exhibit powered by OverDrive, which supports reading and literacy with eBooks from libraries, enabled visitors to browse a public library’s website, sample popular eBooks, audiobooks, music and video titles, and learn how to download and try out supported mobile devices.
- Parents and kids explored the world of literacy in the PBS KIDS Raising Readers pavilion, which featured live stage performances by Elmo and Chris from Sesame Street.
- Children sang along with PBS KIDS’ Steve Songs, enjoyed Read Alouds with Martha from Martha Speaks, and posed for pictures with PBS KIDS characters from the cast of Super Why, Leona and Cleo from Between the Lions, and Duck from Word World, as well as other favorite storybook characters such as Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Maya and Miguel.
- Bullseye the Target Dog posed for pictures with his many fans
- Authors posed for photos with festival-goers in the Pavilion of the States, which featured information about reading- and literacy-promotion programs and literary events in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. trusts and territories.
The 2009 National Book Festival is made possible through the support of Target, the Distinguished Benefactor; Charter Sponsors PBS & PBS KIDS Raising Readers and The Washington Post; Patrons AT&T, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The James Madison Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts; Contributors Borders, Digital Bookmobile powered by OverDrive, the Library of Congress Federal Credit Union, Penguin Group (USA), ReadAloud.org, Scholastic Inc., and US Airways; and Friends the Marshall B. Coyne Foundation, The Hay-Adams, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Thanks also to C-SPAN2’s Book TV for providing onsite coverage of the festival, to the Junior League of Washington for providing 425 volunteers for the event, and to the nearly 1,000 volunteers in all.