September 29th dawned windy and warm on the National Mall in Washington, DC as over 120,000 people began arriving for the 7th Annual National Book Festival. During the day long festival 70 nationally and internationally renowned authors shared their love of books and reading with bibliophiles of all ages. For a librarian there isn't anything that's more fun than this day. The enthusiasm for books and reading is infectious, and the sights and sounds of families sharing their love of reading with one another is nothing short of heart warming.
Since 2001 the Library of Congress has sponsored, and First Lady Laura Bush has hosted, this annual celebration of the joys of reading and lifelong literacy. Each year states send representatives to the Festival to promote their literary heritage and literacy activities in the Pavilion of the States. This year Kat Lyons from the CT Center for the Book at Hartford Public Library; Mary Engels and Linda Williams from the State Library; Susan Aller, Chair, CT Center for the Book Advisory Committee, and Billie Levy, Past Chair of the Advisory Committee staffed the Connecticut table talking with thousands of families from across the country about Connecticut's literary heritage and distributing packets of information on Connecticut to teachers and others interested in learning more about our state.
This year's festival, as in the past, was nothing short of amazing. In addition to the Pavilion of the States, there were author pavilions showcasing more than 70 American authors, illustrators, and poets, including Connecticut's Stephen Carter, Rosemary Welles, and Mercer Mayer. Mr. Mayer was the festival artist this year and spent time with us at our booth in the Pavilion of the States.
From 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. festival goers could listen to authors for all ages and interests. Whether your tastes are for thrillers or biography, fantasy or poetry, whether you are 8 years old or 80, you could find an author you love at the festival. I was able to listen to one of my favorite authors, J. A. Jance, talk about how she became a writer, the passion she has always had for books and reading, and how she now shares that with American troops overseas.
The festival is all about people sharing a love of reading, and I can't think of anything I'd rather be a part of. You can read more about the festival at: http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/index.html and perhaps plan a trip there next year for yourself. Next year's festival is tentatively scheduled for September 20, 2008.
Connecticut Display at the National Book Festival
L to R: Billie Levy, CT Center for the Book; Linda Williams, Mary Engels, CT State Library; Kat Lyons, CT Center for the Book; Mary Chute, IMLS
Mary Engels, Director, Middletown Library Service Center