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2021 National Book Festival Highlights: Your Library of Congress

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Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the 2021 Library of Congress National Book Festival! This year marked a big shift for the Festival: The 2021 event spanned 10 days, from Sept. 17-26, and featured more than 100 authors, poets, writers and illustrators in a range of formats — all celebrating the Festival theme, “Open a Book, Open the World.”

Lucky for you, the National Book Festival continues. You can still explore the whole treasure trove from the Festival website: author conversations, presentations by Library experts, NPR podcasts, interviews on Washington Post Live, the PBS television special and virtual events from PBS Books, and the “Festival Near You.”

On a weekly basis for the rest of the year, this blog will highlight many of the great programs featured at the 2021 National Book Festival. Whether you’re experiencing them for the first time, or revisiting favorites, we hope you enjoy these programs — and that they continue to open the world for you.

We begin this series with the Library of Congress’ own experts, who take you into the Library’s vast collections and services to learn more about conservation, copyright, art and literature, comics, and genealogy. Watch these five welcoming presentations, and discover what your national library has to offer:

  • “Art, Literature and Poetry: Creative Collaborations at the Library of Congress”: Curators Stephanie Stillo and Katherine Blood, along with chief of the Rare Book Division, Mark Dimunation, discuss the many different creative unions between art and the written word over the past century — beginning with early 20th-century livres d’artiste and concluding with contemporary graphic and book artists.
  • “Copyright: The Engine of Free Expression”: John A. Saint Amour, assistant section head for the Information Section at the U.S. Copyright Office, shares how writing a story, creating a work of art, composing or recording music, or simply taking a picture engages with copyright — and how copyright affects your work.
  • “Navigating Unexpected Genealogical Finds”: Reference librarians Sheree Budge and Candice Buchanan use their own families as case studies for the secrets that genealogical research sometimes reveal, and provide resources that family history researchers can use to cope with the consequences of discovering surprising information about ancestors.
  • “The Spider-Man Origin Story in Art & Comic Books”: Library staff Sara W. Duke and Megan Halsband highlight and discuss how the Spider-Man stories came from comic books, and the imaginative possibilities of a talented writer and artist — cartoonist Steve Ditko and scriptwriter Stan Lee — working as a team.
  • “The Visible Book: A Look Inside at Book Construction, Historic to Modern”: Shelly Smith, head of Book Conservation, shows you how to identify the influences of historic book structures in the modern bindings of today.
Library of Congress experts leading Festival presentations, from top left: Katherine Blood, Candice Buchanan, Sheree Budge, Mark Dimunation, Sarah W. Duke, Megan Halsband, John A. Saint Amour, Shelly Smith and Stephanie Stillo.


You can watch all of the programs from the Festival on our National Book Festival website. For up-to-the-minute Festival news, highlights and other important information, subscribe to this blog. The Festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You can support the Festival, too, by making a gift now.


  1. Thank you

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