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Thanks for sharing, Sharon!

Kathy Galvin
WI Center for the Book

On Wed, Feb 24, 2021 at 5:20 PM Sharon Shaloo <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> 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
> [log in to unmask]
> 617.872.3718 (office)
> massbook.org
>