March 21, 1997 Miss America 1997 Officially Opens Library of Congress's New Reading Promotion Campaign

Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

Tara Holland, Miss America 1997, joined Librarian of Congress James H. Billington at the Library of Congress on March 21 to launch "Building a Nation of Readers," the Library's national reading promotion campaign for 1997-2000. She also participated in a drawing to select the National Reading Is Fundamental Reader for 1997. "Literacy is the key to America's future," she said. "The 'Building a Nation of Readers' campaign will remind Americans that they can make a difference in the lives of individuals and the life of our nation."

Miss Holland, who became a literacy volunteer at the age of 17, spoke at a meeting of the Library's national reading promotion partners. She also unveiled a colorful poster, contributed to the campaign by Jim Henson Productions, that shows some of the Muppets "Building a Nation of Readers." She and Dr. Billington also opened a Library of Congress photography exhibition, "Library: The Drama Within," that emphasizes the vital role of libraries in literacy and lifelong learning.

"Since she became Miss America last September, Tara Holland has become a highly visible and inspiring spokesperson for the cause of literacy and reading," said John Y. Cole, Director of the Library's Center for the Book and chair of the "Building a Nation of Readers" campaign. "We are delighted she can be at the Library of Congress to kick off our campaign and meet with representatives from the more than 50 organizations in the Center for the Book's reading promotion partners network."

A graduate student at the University of Missouri prior to winning the Miss America title, Tara Holland graduated magna cum laude from Florida State University. Her first job was as an adult literacy tutor. At Florida State, she was vice president and then president of the Campus Alliance for Literacy.

"Building a Nation of Readers" is the sixth national reading promotion campaign organized by the Center for the Book since 1987. Schools, libraries, educational, civic, and government organizations, corporations, professional associations, labor unions, and others are invited to join the campaign by organizing and supporting reading promotion and literacy projects that benefit all age groups. Suggestions about how individuals and organizations can take part in the campaign are available at the Center for the Book's home page: Principal campaign sponsors are the H.W. Wilson Foundation and Pizza Hut Inc.

The Center for the Book was established by law in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy, and libraries. Its projects and those of its 31 affiliated state centers and many of its national reading promotion partners are funded primarily by private contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations.


PR 97-047
ISSN 0731-3527