ABA and Book Sense to Participate in Second National Book Festival

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On July 25, First Lady Laura Bush and Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced that the second National Book Festival would be held in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, October 12, 2002. "America was transformed three days after the first National Book Festival was held September 8, 2001," Mrs. Bush said in a statement. "But one thing that did not change was our love of spending time with friends and family -- especially our children. The second annual book festival will give us an opportunity to celebrate and share our love of books, reading, and storytelling."

"Reading and libraries are crucial to our national well-being," said Billington. "We want this National Book Festival to stimulate interest in authors, reading, and the world of books and ideas."

Mrs. Bush hosts the National Book Festival, which will be free and open to the public and is scheduled to run from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. It is sponsored by the Library of Congress, and is made possible by charter sponsors AT&T, WorkPlace USA, and the Washington Post, with additional support from patron sponsors the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress, PBS, Target, and other contributors.

Participating in the festival for the first time, the American Booksellers Association and Book Sense will be in the "Let's Read America" pavilion, which is located in the areas between the reflecting pool and 4th Street N.W. on the National Mall. The pavilion will provide practical information about reading and literacy promotion activities throughout the U.S. In the same vicinity will be tents for food sales, musical performances, book signings, and sales.

As part of the "Let's Read America" pavilion, "ABA and Book Sense will be distributing copies of the September/October Book Sense 76 list; as well as copies of our Reading Group 76," said Oren Teicher, ABA COO. "Our hope will be to share our member's passion and knowledge about books with the attendees ... and to spread the word about independent bookstores' perseverance and vitality in these uncertain economic times."

Aside from the "Let's Read America" pavilion, the festival will have on the West Lawn of the Capitol pavilions devoted to "Storytelling," "Fiction & Imagination," "Mysteries & Thrillers," "History & Biography," and two pavilions for "Children & Young Adults." A Library of Congress pavilion will include information on its Web site and other services to the public.

All told, the National Book Festival will feature more than 70 award-winning authors, illustrators, and storytellers. Included among festival events will be author readings and book discussions; performances by storytellers; book sales and signings; appearances by children's storybook characters, such as Clifford the Big Red Dog; a conservation clinic for books, family letters, and albums; and performances representing a wide range of America's musical traditions.

This year's National Book Festival will see a number of changes from last year, according to John Y. Cole, director of the Library of Congress's Center for the Book, and coordinator of the author and reading promotion programs for the National Book Festival. For starters, this year's event will be entirely outside and has moved from the East Lawn to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, he told BTW. "It's a better location," he said. "There's more space."

The festival also has a new pavilion, the "Pavilion of States," which will highlight state reading programs and local libraries. "All the states will be represented, including the District of Columbia," Cole explained. The pavilion, which is funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will have representatives from each state, he said, chosen by each state's librarian. "[The representatives will be] promoting events going on in each state," he explained. "The purpose is to have them call attention to books, reading, libraries, and reading promotions, such as state book festivals."

Cole also noted that the National Center for the Book has received two grants totaling $110,000 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and AT&T. The grants will be allocated to the 22 state centers for the book that are helping to promote the National Book Festival this year. Each center will receive $5,000, which will help fund their events that publicize the National Book Festival, he said. Most state centers will be holding their promotions in late August and early October.

The 22 state centers for the book promoting the National Book Festival are: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

For example, the Arkansas Center for the Book will organize and hold a series of storytelling programs on four Saturdays in September (September 7, 14, 21, 28). Six of Arkansas's major independent bookstores will be participating in the event: That Bookstore in Blytheville in Blytheville, WordsWorth Books in Little Rock, That Bookstore at Mountebanq Place in Conway, Jefferson Street Books in El Dorado, Books Galore in Harrison, and Corner Books in Bentonville. Each bookstore will use both professional and amateur Arkansas storytellers, will adapt the program to suit its own customers, and will display and distribute National Book Festival posters and bookmarks.

While last year's festival garnered a turn-out of some 30,000 people, "we're planning for a crowd of 50,000" for this year's festival, said Craig D'Ooge, a spokesperson for the Library of Congress.

For more information on the National Book Festival, go to www.loc.gov/bookfest or call toll-free (888) 714-4696.