Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

March 22, 1996

Center for the Book and American Institute of Graphic Arts Form Partnership To Sponsor "The Alphabet Project"

The importance of letters, language, and design in promoting reading and literacy is at the heart of "The Alphabet Project," a new cooperative effort of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).

The partnership will celebrate the alphabet and the aesthetics of book design, and will stimulate appreciation of effective written communication. It also will foster creative thinking about using design and new media in communicating ideas and information. A primary focus will be on nurturing joint projects among the 30 state affiliates of the Center for the Book and the 37 AIGA chapters of graphic designers across the country.

According to John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book, and AIGA Executive Director Richard Grefe, initially the partnership will consist of four elements: exploring and demonstrating the importance of the alphabets of the world as keys to literacy and as extraordinary communication devices; alphabet-related exhibitions, publications, competitions, and other projects; joint programs recognizing the 50 best-designed books of each year through traveling exhibits and other projects, extending the tradition of the "50 Best Books Show" started by the AIGA in 1917; and the celebration of poetry in public places, which will take place in cooperation with other organizations, including the Poetry Society of America.

On Jan. 25-26, national and state representatives from the Center for the Book and AIGA participated in an idea exchange and planning session initiated and hosted by the Florida Center for the Book, based at the Broward County Library in Fort Lauderdale. It was agreed that the first state projects will be developed in California, Florida, and Minnesota. The AIGA's exhibition of the 50 best-designed books of 1994 was displayed with an exhibit checklist prepared for the occasion by the Florida Center for the Book.

The Center for the Book/AIGA Alphabet Project will continue at least through the year 2000. Sponsorship and funding for many of the individual projects will be sought from corporations and foundations that have a particular commitment to the written word and its future.

The AIGA is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1914 to promote excellence in graphic design through competitions, exhibitions, publications, professional seminars, educational activities, and a variety of public interest projects.

The Center for the Book was established in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books, reading, and libraries and to encourage the study of the book as an artifact, art form, and means of communication. Its projects are supported by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations.

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PR 96-47
ISSN 0731-3527

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