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Hi, All,

Sorry I went all history nerd today but I love the story of the network of
Centers for the Book and talk about it fairly regularly when I am raising
friends or funds.  The CfB in LOC was established, as Rocco and Guy said,
by an Act of Congress.  A pdf of the typed then photocopied and etc (and so
blurry!) Act is available here:
https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/STATUTE-91/pdf/STATUTE-91-Pg1151.pdf

As I understood it from John Cole, the founding ideas for the Center were
twofold:  one was that it would become an outreach mechanism for the
Library of Congress and two was that it would stimulate interest in books
and reading, by which was meant interest in the book as a material object
and reading as a lifelong cultural activity.  At the time, John told me,
the thinking was that video was displacing reading and some advocacy for
book culture was necessary.  Again, this was not a sense only in the US.
Other nations (primarily in Europe) were establishing national centers for
the book to understand the heritage of the written word in their languages
and cultures, as well.

Initially the CfB in LOC was advised by a 100 member board, with two
representatives from each of the 50 states.  John worked with that model
for 5 to 6 years, but he told me that it was impossible to get into the
states through that tructure, and the board was so large that it was not
easy to focus attentions, etc and so on.

At any rate, at a library conference somewhere, he was talking with a
colleague from Florida, Jean Tebbe, about this conundrum, and it was she,
as John told me, who said, "I think I can help you."  It was her idea that
instead of a centralized board, an affiliate network of state-based
organizations could bring LOC initiatives in to states and combine them
with home based projects all in service of the broad mandate to promote
books, reading, literacy and libraries.  The Florida CfB was established in
1984.

Daniel Boorstin was still Librarian of Congress when I first started
attending the annual LOC meetings.  He and his wife, Ruth, would come to
the meeting for an hour, most usually right after the luncheon.  He was
someone whose histories I had read while an undergraduate and so meeting
him and getting to talk to him made an impression, for sure.

At the time, the Center for the Book office in LOC was staffed by John
Cole, Maurveen Williams, Anne Boni, and Pat White (whom Staceya later
replaced when Pat retired).   The Center was responsible for raising the
funds to cover some of those salaries, though.   When Dr Billington came to
LOC he agreed to pay the staff salaries but John had to commit to
establishing a CfB in each of the 50 states ... I believe it was 2003 or
2004 when the network was fully formed.

Massachusetts was the 38th Center for the Book, affiliated officially on
Jan 1, 2000.  When I first came to the meetings, the founding
director/coordinator for nearly all of the centers was still active and so
there was a lot to learn those folk.  Some of the standouts were Nancy
Pearl (WA), Sally Anderson (VT), Frannie Ashburn (NC), Kat (surname escapes
me!, CT, then at Hartford PL), Glenda Carlile (OK), Mary Kay Dahlgreen
(OR), Gail Bialas (TX, then at Dallas Public), .... the list goes on.
 Steve Herb (PA), Sid Berger (CA), and I all started in the same year,
2000. Susan Coleman (VA) arrived at just about this time, IIRC. Renee
Schwartz (NJ) and Mary Russell (NH) joined the fold fairly early in the
2000s, as well.

It would be good to try to capture a history of the CfB network before
memory fades too much in our states, commonwealths, districts, territories
and/or protectorates.

I'll return to my rocking chair now ...

Sharon

*********
Sharon Shaloo, Executive Director
Mass Center for the Book
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617.872.3718 (office)
massbook.org