The following post was written by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer in Literary Initiatives and head of the Center for the Book.
The Library of Congress is very fortunate to have three “ambassadors” in its literary arsenal: the U.S. Poet Laureate, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and the recipient of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.
These so-called ambassadors bring national attention to the importance of books, reading and literacy — attention that syncs perfectly with the mission of the Center for the Book at the Library and its 53 affiliates (in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
As part of its commitment to share these ambassadors with the nation, the Center for the Book embarked on a pilot to bring each of these noteworthy individuals to events with select affiliate centers.
Last March, the former recipient of the Library’s Fiction Prize, Colson Whitehead, had a virtual conversation with Rocco Staino, head of the New York Center for the Book (also known as the Empire State Center for the Book). The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner talked about growing up in New York, a place where he still lives. Staino and Whitehead also spoke in a wide-ranging interview about the influences New York has had on his writing. In fact, Whitehead’s newest book, “Harlem Shuffle,” is set in 1960s Manhattan.
This week, Jason Reynolds, in his third year as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, will discuss his ambassador platform, GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story and his award-winning book “Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks.” He will also demonstrate new ways educators, parents and caregivers can connect to kids. The event is presented in collaboration with Humanities Tennessee Southern Festival of Books and the Tennessee Center for the Book. Join Reynolds in what is sure to be an extraordinary event on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m ET. The event will stream live on the Southern Festival of Books’ YouTube channel. Dollar General, based in Tennessee, supports the National Ambassador program.
Later this month, U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, in her third year in the position, will connect with local American Indian communities in Minnesota in an event called “Bringing Joy: An Evening with United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.” The event begins on Monday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. ET and will include a cultural blessing, an honor song and a presentation from Harjo. You can register for the virtual event here.
We hope you can attend these events that are designed to bring the riches of the Library of Congress to all Americans, not only through its remarkable website at loc.gov but also through the extraordinary people who represent us as our “ambassadors.”