By AUDREY FISCHER
For those not able to be among the 150,000 who attended the 2010 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress reached out to classrooms, libraries and homes through its award-winning website.
The effort started early, with the May 25 launch of the National Book Festival website at www.loc.gov/bookfest/. Visitors to the site were invited to stay on top of the latest book festival news by subscribing to the Library’s RSS feeds and e-mail updates.
“One of the ways we observed the 10th year of the festival, celebrating ‘A Decade of Words and Wonder,’ was to make our festival website more interactive and lively,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.
“We try to give book-lovers as much information as possible about the National Book Festival, in a useful way, on our website,” said Matt Raymond, the Library’s director of communications. “It might seem a little daunting, what with six author pavilions and numerous other attractions spread out across four city blocks on the National Mall.”
In addition to information about the 2010 book festival, the website offers a look back to past festivals through photographs, webcasts and podcasts of author presentations, “video vignettes” from interviews with past festival authors and a retrospective video of the festival’s first decade. To generate excitement, a countdown clock ticked away the days, hours and minutes remaining until the festival opened.
In August, visitors to the website were given a have a chance to vote for their favorite book festival author, choosing from the roughly 500 authors who have appeared at the nine previous National Book Festivals, or will appear at this year’s festival. Headed by Diana Gabaldon, the list of voters’ top 10 authors is posted at www.loc.gov/bookfest/vote/. Gabaldon appeared at the 2002, 2005 and 2010 National Book Festivals.
A popular feature of the National Book Festival website since the festival’s early years has been an educational guide to the festival for children and teachers. Once again, this year’s Kids-Teachers site at www.loc.gov/bookfest/kids-teachers/ was designed to help students, educators and parents bring the magic of the National Book Festival to their town.
On the site, students can learn more about the authors, vote for their favorites in the aforementioned contest, and even learn how to host their own local book festival. They can download the festival poster by Illustrator Peter Ferguson and play “Eye Spy” to learn more about the characters depicted on the poster. They can link to Read.gov, the Library’s literacy-promotion site, to read “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure.”
And they could enter a bookmark design contest sponsored jointly by the Library of Congress and Borders, the official bookseller for the festival. The bookmark contest encouraged children across the country to design a bookmark that conveyed their love of reading. Contest winners and their school libraries each received Borders gift cards. State winners also received gift cards. Delaney Benich, a 6th grade student from Crown Point, Ind., designed the winning bookmark which was printed and distributed at the 2010 National Book Festival. The winning designs are posted on www.loc.gov/bookfest/kids-teachers/creative/bookmarks.html.
While the National Book Festival is an annual event, booklovers are encouraged to visit the festival’s website year-round to enter the world of words and wonder.