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National Book Festival Inspires Readers

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

By Mary Chute
Deputy Director for Libraries, IMLS

Recently, the rain clouds cleared on the National Mall and the 2011 National Book Festival delighted and inspired readers and book lovers of all ages.  This year’s two day event held September 24-25 was the 11th book festival and the largest yet with a record setting attendance of over 200,000.

On the first day of the event, IMLS once again sponsored the Pavilion of the States which provides opportunities for library and book lovers to "visit" all 50 states, the District of Columbia and a number of the U.S. territories.

Author Chris Van Dusen assists with map-stamping at the Georgia table.

One of the big draws in the pavilion is a map of the US created especially for the National Book Festival. Many young people (and those young at heart) tour the tent "visiting the states" and having their map stamped by the hosts from the states. For those who completed their national tour, there was a prize awaiting them at the IMLS table where a number of our staff took turns welcoming, congratulating - and more importantly - explaining who we are and what we fund.

Representatives from the individual State Libraries and Centers for the Book had the opportunity to network with colleagues.  The meet and greet also provided an opportunity to highlight the unique work being accomplished in each state to promote books and authors, reading and writing, libraries and the power of information. Our Director Susan Hildreth visited each state’s table for introductions and provided a photo to help them tell the story back home.

The result of someone's hard work: a fully-stamped map of the states!

This year they outdid themselves with numerous guest authors and illustrators spending time at their "home" state tables to inspire the nation's next generation of creative genius.  Former NFL linebacker and children’s book author Chris Draft toured the states and encouraged fans to get their library cards.

Left to right: Elaine Black, author Carmen Agra Deedy, author John McCutheon, Chris Draft, author Shelia Moses, and David Baker.

To sum it up - it was two days of a wonderful reading celebration and a great time was had by all. Plans are already in the works for next year, and from what I witnessed there are a lot of current and future reading enthusiasts already looking forward to it!