In September, the Library of Congress hosted its National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Many humanities councils who serve as Centers for the Book affiliates, including Vermont Humanities, Indiana Humanities, Humanities Tennessee, and more were in attendance. With this year’s theme, “Books Bring Us Together,” council staff connected with readers of all ages and were visited by Dr. Shelly Lowe (Navajo), Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. See below for images and remarks from council staff about their experiences at the National Book Festival.
We kicked off the month by traveling to Washington D.C. to celebrate the National Book Festival at the Library of Congress. We had the pleasure of partnering with the Indiana State Library to welcome book lovers and celebrate our recent Indiana Authors Awards winners. We were also joined by Hoosier authors, Leah Johnson and Karen Joy Fowler, who signed books, t-shirts and passed out swag.
“The Book Festival was fabulous! It was my first time and the experience could not have been better. I was certainly in book nerd heaven. Our superstar colleagues at the Indiana State Library went all out with the You Should See Me in a Crown decoration theming and we had two authors spend time at our booth interacting with guests (the incredible Leah Johnson & Karen Joy Fowler). I wish I could bottle that feeling of satisfaction I think we all felt at the end of the day.” –Marisol Gouveia, Indiana Humanities
Vermont Humanities attended the National Book Festival for the first time in our new role as the Library of Congress-affiliated Vermont Center for the Book. Many Humanities Councils across the nation serve as their states’ Center for the Book, while libraries and universities serve that function in other states and territories. Dr. Shelly Lowe, a member of the Navajo Nation and the first Native person to serve as Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, visited with Executive Director Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup at the Vermont booth. He shared with her the original comic pamphlets from El viaje más caro, the resources that have been anthologized in English as The Most Costly Journey. Thank you to Cabot Creamery and the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing for their support!
As part of the Festival’s Great Reads from Great Places, we celebrated two Tennessee authors and their books: Julia Watts’ Needlework and Margaret Renkl’s Graceland, at Last.
Both books make mention of quilting and so… with the help of many, many, many contributors on Saturday, we created this quilt where each triangle contains an attendee’s book recommendation.
“I got to represent Tennessee at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, last Saturday, along with my TSLA colleague Andrea and friend Patrick from Humanities TN. It was a full day but an incredibly positive one as well – more than 2,000 kids and their parents visited our booth, told us their favorite book, and contributed to our book suggestion quilt. Y’all, there are SO MANY well-behaved, well-read, smart, funny, kind people out there. I met boocoodles of them at the NBF, but I met them at our hotel, in a bar, in a taxi, at a restaurant, in stores. They want to tell you about the great book they read, and they want to build a collaborative art project. They want to tell you about their travels and the people they’ve met. They want to learn about you and where you live and what you’ve done. It was a wonderful reminder of how awesome people can be.” -Kate Smith, Tennessee State Library and Archives
This was our first experience at the National Book Festival since Wyoming Humanities took over the state’s Center for the Book program, and it was an amazing experience! The opportunity to engage with thousands of people to chat about our state as well as the chance to connect with our humanities and Center For the Book colleagues from across the country was incredibly rewarding and energizing. We can’t wait to return next year, bigger and better!
North Carolina Humanities
The National Book Festival was a wonderful opportunity to share North Carolina authors and tell visitors about North Carolina Humanities and NC Center for the Book. We enjoyed connecting with visitors from NC and the rest of the U.S. It was a nice opportunity to connect with other centers and state humanities councils (it was great to see everyone, and a special thanks to Federation President Phoebe Stein for organizing and inviting state humanities folks to dinner on Friday to connect). Festival workers stopped by multiple times throughout the day to see if we needed anything. We greatly appreciated the support from NEH (Karen Kenton and Chair Lowe stopped by and took the time to talk with us and take pictures of our booth).
“Attending the National Book Festival at the end of my first week directing the Maryland Center for the Book was the perfect way to be welcomed into the amazing community of book lovers and advocates. I’m excited and encouraged to create programming in the future knowing that there are such great partners to learn from and build with.” -Aditya Desai, Maryland Humanities