The promotion of books and reading internationally as well as nationally has been an important activity since the Center for the Book was established 30 years ago. (See Information Bulletin, July/August 2001 for a summary of the center’s international projects and publications from 1978 to 2000.) Recent international projects are outlined below.
The Center for the Book frequently hosts librarians and other visitors from abroad who have a special interest in books and reading promotion, as well as special events such as book talks, book festivals and author awards. Visitors during the past year included librarians from the South Korean National Library for Children and Young Adults; John K. Tsebe, National Librarian of the National Library of South Africa; and librarians from Russia and Uzbekistan.
The Center for the Book, along with the Library’s Hispanic Division and the Consortium of the Latin American Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, hosts the Americas Awards for Children and Young Adult Literature. Held annually at the Library of Congress, the awards honor outstanding U.S. works of fiction, poetry, folklore or selected nonfiction that “authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean or Latinos in the United States.”
On Oct. 6, 2007, authors Margarita Engle and Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren and illustrators Sean Qualls and Nicole Tadgell received the 2006 Americas Award.
Engle and Qualls were honored for their book “The Poet Slave of Cuba” (Henry Holt, 2006). Elvgren and Tadgell were recognized for their book “Josias, Hold the Book” (Boyds Mill, 2006).
Engle is a Cuban American poet, novelist and journalist whose work has won such awards as a San Diego Book Award and a Willow Review Poetry Award. Qualls is the illustrator of “The Baby on the Way” and “Powerful Words.” Elvgren has been published in Ladybug and Highlights for Children. Tadgell has illustrated a number of books, including “Fatuma’s New Cloth,” winner of the Children’s Africana Book Award.
“It was wonderful to hear from the authors and illustrators about their path to writing and creating,” said Sherrie Galloway, Teacher in Residence at the Library of Congress, “No two were the same, and yet each came up with something special. I always come away from such author events with tidbits to share with students about why people write, motivation, the value of illustration, vision, the years of dedication to get something in print, persistence.”
Gail Petri, education resource specialist in the Library’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, said, “One of the things I remember vividly from Margarita Engle’s talk is that she struggled about how to write Juan Francisco Manzano’s story until it finally dawned on her that she must write her book as he wrote it—in poetry form. I was so inspired by her talk that I bought the book and read it without stopping. Her story is amazing.”
Webcasts of the 2007 Americas Award ceremony and several past ceremonies are available on the Center for the Book Web site.
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
The 73rd IFLA General Conference in Durban, South Africa, held from Aug. 19-23, 2007, attracted 3,100 delegates from 116 nations. Attendance was strong at all Section on Reading programs and meetings. In Pretoria on Aug. 15-17, prior to the General Conference, the Section on Reading joined with two other IFLA sections to sponsor an international pre-conference on “Innovative Multicultural Library Services for All.”
The section’s major program on “Libraries in Good Health: Resources and Practices Designed to Support Community Development and Outreach in Health Related Issues” was held in Durban on Aug. 21. Sponsored jointly with the sections on public libraries and on school libraries and resources centers, the program featured six papers on aspects of health in relationship to reading and literacy.
In support of the United Nations Literacy Decade 2003-2012, at the forthcoming 2008 general conference in Quebec City, the Section on Reading will host a “reading fair” that will share information about selected literacy and reading promotion projects.
For the past decade, the Center for the Book has been closely involved in the activities of the Section on Reading of IFLA. The section’s newsletter, which is edited by Center for the Book Director and former Section Chair John Y. Cole, is available on the section’s Web site. The August 2007 issue includes a summary of the section’s accomplishments during the past eight years compiled by Gwynneth Evans, the outgoing section chair.
Director John Y. Cole represented the Center for the Book at the LIBER Think Tank Conference on “The Future Value of the Book as Artifact and the Future Value of Digital Documentary Heritage,” held at the National Library of Sweden on May 24-25, 2007. Massachusetts Center for the Book director Sharon Shaloo represented the national Center for the Book at “Beyond the Book: Contemporary Cultures of Reading,” an international conference on Sept. 1-2, 2007, held at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.