(The following is a guest post by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer in the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.)
Thomas Jefferson, the Library of Congress’s spiritual founder, wrote about the pursuit of happiness.
“I like to think that literacy is fundamental to that pursuit. So many doors are closed to those who cannot read. Everyone in this world has a right to happiness and with that comes the right to read.” So said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden during a ceremony last fall honoring the 2016 Library of Congress Literacy Awards winners and best practices honorees.
Many of us take for granted being able to read instructions on filling out a job application, on reading a website or even something as simple as reading a street sign. Imagine how terrifying it is for those who cannot read to even think about applying for a job.
It’s no surprise that those who cannot read earn significantly less than those who can and that many of these people are living in poverty.
During the Library of Congress National Book Festival gala program in September, the Library shared a short film highlighting some alarming statistics about literacy:
- 757 million adults cannot read or write a simple sentence, and two-thirds of them are women
- In the United States one in six adults reads at a basic or below-basic , meaning they cannot read anything more complex than a TV Guide
- Worldwide, 61 million elementary-age children are not in school, and in the United States, 34 percent of children entering kindergarten lack the basic language skills needed to learn to read
- Low literacy levels cost the united states $225 billion each year and cost the global economy $1.19 trillion annually
David M. Rubenstein, the philanthropist who sponsors the awards, is himself a voracious reader, and he has stated many times publicly that reading has been key to his success in life.
If you work for a literacy organization or know someone who does, you are encouraged to apply yourself or on behalf of another literacy group. A quarter-million dollars will be awarded this fall to three worthy organizations. For more information, visit to read.gov/literacyawards/.
The Young Readers Center in the Library of Congress hosted a series of events Jan. 28 to celebrate its new Saturday hours of operation, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The center, which opened in October 2009, will offer more young people and their families the opportunity to experience the wonders and resources of the nation’s library. “It […]
Award-winning author and literacy advocate Stephen King helped the Library of Congress today launch its call for nominations for the 2017 Library of Congress Literacy Awards. The annual awards support organizations working to promote literacy, both in the United States and worldwide, and are made possible through the generosity of David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and […]
Happy New Year! Let’s look back on some of the Library’s headlines in December. Topping the news was the announcement of the new selections to the National Film Registry. Outlets really picked up on the heavy 80s influence of the list. “It’s loaded with millennials,” said Christie D’Zurilla of The Los Angeles Times. “Ten of […]
(The following guest post is by John Van Oudenaren, director for scholarly and educational programs at the Library of Congress.) By the time the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the European powers had been fighting for more than two-and-a-half years. U.S. troops joined their British, French and Belgian allies in battles […]
King George III of England: wasn’t he the one effectively told by the feisty New World colonists to “Nix the tax, Rex?” When they turned Boston Harbor into the world’s largest teapot, it was to get the attention of a government back home in England headed by George III, a monarch they would eventually disown. […]
The Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress and the Galileo Museum in Florence, Italy, today unveiled a multi-media interactive website that celebrates the life and times of 16th-century cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, who created the 1507 World Map, which is the first document to use the name “America,” represent the Pacific Ocean and […]
In case you missed it, the Library of Congress has a new Librarian of Congress, who made headlines throughout the month of September. In addition to being named Fox News Sunday Power Play of the Week, Carla Hayden spoke with several outlets, including USA Today, The Washington Post, The Guardian, NBC, NPR, CBS, The New […]
The Library of Congress hosted the 16th annual National Book Festival last Saturday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. Thousands of book-lovers came to get books signed, check out exhibits, play with their kids and get close to some of the world’s most popular authors. This year was a year of several firsts. […]
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced the winners of the 2016 Library of Congress Literacy Awards tonight at the Library of Congress National Book Festival gala. The awards honor organizations working to promote literacy and reading in the United States and worldwide. The awards recognize groups doing exemplary, innovative and replicable work, and they spotlight the […]