Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
April 21, 1995
University of Virginia Library To Present Its 4 Millionth Acquisition, a Poem by Rita Dove, to the Library of Congress
On Thursday, May 4, at a luncheon for Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Rita Dove on the day of her reading to close the 1994-95 literary season, the University of Virginia Library will present a special copy of Poet Laureate Rita Dove's Lady Freedom Among Us to the Library of Congress. University Librarian Karin Wittenborg will make the presentation to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. The poem was published in the fall of 1994 by Janus Press as a limited edition; Ms. Dove first read the poem at the ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Capitol and the restoration of the "Freedom" statue on the Capitol Dome in October 1993.
The University of Virginia Library chose Ms. Dove's book for its 4-millionth acquisition because it wanted a work that was American, that would have a demonstrated connection with the University of Virginia faculty, and that would have lasting significance. The acquisition of Lady Freedom Among Us not only celebrates libraries and literature but also illustrates the ways in which libraries are changing in a world in which both print and electronic media are valuable resources. The University of Virginia has made the book accessible on the Internet.
Lady Freedom Among Us was designed and hand-printed by New England artist Claire Van Vliet, the curator and proprietor of the Janus Press. A 1989-94 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, she is an accomplished printer, printmaker, and papermaker whose books are among the finest produced in America today.
The Janus Press came into existence in 1955; to celebrate its 40th anniversary, the Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division, in collaboration with the Interpretive Programs Office, will present a special exhibition, "The Janus Press, 1955-1995: Forty Years of Bookmaking, Printmaking and Papermaking." The exhibition, which will open in December 1995, will feature the printed books, illustrations, and handmade papers of Ms. Van Vliet. Library benefactor Lessing J. Rosenwald was a strong supporter of Ms. Van Vliet, and the Library of Congress has collected Janus Press books from its earliest days. In 1991, the Library of Congress acquired the Janus Press's archives, which includes correspondence, artists' proofs, drawings, and paper and binding samples; since then, Ms. Van Vliet has continued to donate material to the Library. The exhibition will link finished books with the materials that relate to their making.
Rita Dove's reading on the evening of May 4 will bring to a close her term as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.
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