Hey folks, 

Here in Virginia, we had to cancel our 2020 Va. Festival of the Book, which was scheduled for March 18-22. Though we made that decision on March 10, it feels like a lifetime ago now. In retrospect, we are so glad we made the decision, though, at the time, we actually received a bit of mild pushback from some folks since the situation was nowhere near the crisis that it has become. 

Since then, we've been working to retrofit digital content from the Festival's website ( to provide ways for readers and authors to engage online, and have been doing a great deal of re-posting and re-tweeting virtual book clubs, etc. to try to spread the word about Festival authors' work and encourage people to buy books from their local booksellers. 

We've also been sharing local and state resources that our partner organizations are providing (from info about how to access free meals for K-12 students to hotlines for sexual violence resources; from volunteer opportunities to community funds to support vulnerable neighbors; etc.) in an attempt to do whatever we can to acknowledge and support the incredible work that's being done and the incredible needs that loom large for many in our state (and everywhere). 

Following California's lead (thanks, Julianna!) lead and with support from a Mellon Foundation/Federation of State Humanities Councils grant for "Democracy and the Informed Citizen," we are also working to support programming in Virginia public libraries through some targeted re-granting. So far, most of the programs receiving those funds are scheduled for the fall, so we're hoping they'll continue as planned; one spring program has had to be rescheduled already though. 

Another current endeavor for us is through an existing partnership with other book festivals, with which we're planning a "Virtual Festival of Festivals," 
led by Loft Literary's Wordplay festival. More on that soon, hopefully.

Finally, as part of Virginia Humanities and the University of Virginia, we're in week two of working from home, which is not optional at this point. All in-person programs have also been canceled. I feel incredibly lucky to have my two dogs who are helping me stay sane amidst it all. For our colleagues with kids, however, they just got the news on Monday that all K-12 schools across the state are now closed through the end of the school year, so they're now juggling everything else with becoming homeschool instructors for the foreseeable future. (We're also trying to work to adapt our existing resources to meet these new homeschooling needs.)

That said, it's really great to hear from all of you, and I hope you continue to stay healthy and take every possible precaution.  

All best in these weird times, 

Sarah Lawson
Assistant Director
Virginia Center for the Book
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From: Center for the Book state centers communication <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Rocco Staino <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 12:50 PM
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Working in the age of coronavirus
Well here in NYS we have had to postpone our Writers Hall of Fame event from June to November.  I am glad that Alabama  was able to host their event.  I am also glad that Ralph Ellison is now in both our Halls of Fame.  I also loved the video.

We have also postponed our latest Literary Landmark dedication from May 30 until October.

Not sure if my images from the 1996 Center for the Book publication posted.  If anyone wants a copy of their state's 1996 information send me an email.

Wash Your Hands,


On Tue, Mar 24, 2020 at 10:44 AM Pearce, Michael <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Good morning,

Welcome to official day 2 of the Alabama Center for the Book’s life in the age of the coronavirus. The University of Alabama Libraries began working remotely on Friday, ,March 13th and are scheduled to work remotely for the foreseeable future. This coincided with our spring break, the week of 3/16-3/20, so I had a week to get used to being home all the time.


We held the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner on Monday March 9th, honoring 7 writers who are from, or have ties to Alabama.  As part of this effort we spent the last 18 months making author travel arrangements, procuring the event space, creating banners and the event program, as well as invitations and the linked video above, managing the attendance and parking logistics, decorating the weekend prior to the event, writing the emcee and tech scripts for the ceremony, managing press availability with authors, and finally orchestrating the lights, sound and video during the event.   


We gave a grant to the Alabama Humanities Foundation to support author events at the Alabama Book Festival, which was scheduled to be held on 4/18/20. We are also working on a framework to extend these type grants to public libraries throughout the state. The festival, like most everything else, is now postponed as we ride this out. I am currently working from our dining room, and spend ˝ time homeschooling my 6 year old. My primary job responsibilities are housed within the University of Alabama Libraries, and right now they consist of covid-19 messaging and social media planning. UA licenses Zoom which, as you know, has been very easy to use.


The next stage in implementing our vision statement is to create a framework for offering grants to book artists in the state of Alabama. As such, I am thinking of creating a “competition” for folks interested in creating artist’s books, broadsides or chapbooks related to the pandemic, with an eye towards addressing the toll that the stress and fear related to the coronavirus takes on us all, and perhaps provide commentary on the intricacies of social distancing in an age where technology cannot fully replace normal human interactions. Of course I’ll probably tone that down a bit for public consumption.

Hoping this finds you all well.


Michael Pearce


From: Center for the Book state centers communication <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Lamolinara, Guy
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2020 2:36 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: working in the age of coronavirus


Dear Affiliates,


It is hard for me sometimes to believe how are lives and work activities have so drastically changed in just the past two weeks!


I just started teleworking last week and am still getting used to the lack of social interchange with my colleagues face-to-face. I have never teleworked before because I have always enjoyed coming into the office each day. It also puts me in a “work” mindset. The constant racket from the construction project next door is a constant and annoying distraction. If you know Alexandria, Va., and its historic district, then you know we all live in rowhouses in a densely populated neighborhood. I live in one of those rowhouses, attached on only one side. Right next door, about 12 feet away, they are erecting a large Sunrise senior living facility on what has been a parking lot for the entire 33 years I have lived in this house. At least when the times comes, I won’t have to move very far!


On a more serious level, I am writing to reach out and learn how all of you are coping, how your work, activities and plans have changed, and what I (and the Library of Congress) can do to support you. I can tell you we are planning to release online later this week the beginning of a series of reading and learning activities with some top authors who have agreed to work with us to reach out to young readers who are home from school. As soon as I have details, I will let you know. Perhaps it is something you can offer your users.


Can you tell us if you are engaging in any novel approaches to reaching your constituencies?


What activities have you been forced to cancel? Are you doing any virtual programming?


Are you involved in a state or local book festival? Are you making contingency plans?


Anything you would like to say to get the conversation going, please share.


Take care. I hope we return to “normal” soon, whatever the new normal may be.