Graphic novelist Stephan Pastis, author of the “Timmy Failure” series, presents a program in the Center for the Book’s Young Readers Center

Guidelines for Establishing State Centers and Suggested Activities

State centers for the book are affiliated with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (also referred to hereafter as the national center) and work with the Library to promote books, reading, literacy and libraries and the state's literary heritage. Several points from the guidelines that follow should be given particular attention in the preparation of a proposal.

  • The initiative for a state center for the book must come from the state that wishes to establish the center. Guidance in developing the proposal (and on the coalition necessary to support it) is available from the national center, but funding, staffing, and programming are responsibilities of each state center.
  • Once granted, the initial affiliation between a state center and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress lasts three years. State centers must formally request each three-year renewal.
  • The state library should be closely involved with the center. If the center is not to be located at the state library, the state library must agree to its location elsewhere and to serve as a major partner.
  • The activities of a state center in promoting books, reading, libraries, and literacy are more important than its location. The state center should not be or be seen as a vehicle for promoting any single library.
  • A state center for the book should be truly statewide in its governance, support, and activities. Its creation should help unify a state's book community, from author to reader, and its activities should reinforce and strengthen the work of other organizations. State centers should not be or be seen as "competitors" with other organizations.
  1. Proposal to the Library of Congress
    The organizers of a potential state center should submit a proposal to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The proposal will be reviewed by the national center's executive committee, which meets each spring and fall. The request should outline a proposed program of activities that parallels, in spirit and scope, the program at the Library of Congress. The new center will not receive any direct financial support from the national center, so organizers should present their plans for supporting the center. For example, will the new center be part of an organization authorized to receive contributions, or will it seek separate, not-for-profit status? What are the likely sources of funding? Names and affiliations of potential advisory committee members should be included along with a list of proposed projects and activities. It should be clear from the proposal that the new center will serve a useful and constructive purpose in the state, a function not now being performed by any other organization or statewide coalition.
  2. Organizational Structure of the State Centers
    The structure will vary from state to state, depending on which individuals or groups take the initiative, the needs and opportunities in a particular state, the degree to which the state library or state humanities council wishes to be involved, and potential sources of funding. The organizing group should represent a coalition of prominent book, library, business, civic, and educational groups from throughout the state or region. Potential members include authors, educators, publishers, printers, book designers, illustrators, and manufacturers; booksellers; librarians; library supporters; book collectors; journalists; book reviewers and critics; and other citizens interested in the world of books. The state library and state humanities council should play major roles in the center and its activities. A statewide advisory board is needed, and it is suggested that a state's Congressional representatives be invited to serve on the board, at least in an honorary capacity. At least one statewide coordinator should be designated by name in the proposal submitted to the national center.
  3. State Centers and the National Center
    A state center, once its proposal has been approved, will be known as an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Close communication and cooperation between the national center and each state center are essential, especially with regard to program planning, fundraising, and the use of the national center's name. Representatives of the state centers should plan to participate in an annual meeting at the Library of Congress each spring when each center will report on its activities and exchange ideas with the other centers. Both parties will review the affiliation between the national center and each state center every three years, at which time the state center must formally request its renewal. The key question will be whether the joint effort has advanced the cause of books and reading in creative, constructive, and meaningful ways. If there any doubts, this affiliation may cease.
  4. State Centers and Other Organizations
    Partnerships with other organizations are the best way to promote books, reading, libraries, literacy, and book culture. Often these partnerships can be formed with the state or local chapters of organizations that work closely on a national level with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Nearl 100 national education and civic organizations are the national center's reading promotion partners. Likely partners include regional and local chapters of publishing and library groups and organizations such as American Booksellers Association, American Library Association, Friends of Libraries U.S.A., International Reading Association, and Reading Is Fundamental. Information about reading promotion partners, and other related ("community of the book") organizations can be found on the Center for the Book's web site at:
  5. Activities of the State Centers
    A state center affiliated with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress is expected to reinforce and extend, at the state level, the mission of the national center. It should serve the same catalytic function locally that the Center for the Book serves nationally. A state center should not compete with other groups within the state; instead its activities should complement and strengthen the work of other organizations.

    State centers are invited to make use of themes and projects promoted by the national center. Examples include Read More About It, Books Make a Difference, A Nation of Readers, and other national promotion efforts such as "Books Change Lives," "Be A Lifetime Reader," and "Shape Your Future--Read!". The Center for the Book also participates in National Library Week (April), Banned Books Week (September), International Literacy Day (September 8) and National Children's Book Week (November).

    State centers are expected to develop and carry out activities appropriate to their own states, e.g., celebrating the states book and literary heritage; working with local radio and television stations to promote books and reading; organizing seminars, exhibitions, and lectures; compiling directories of useful resources; sponsoring publications; and hosting statewide events that call attention to the importance of books, reading, and libraries.

Here is a list of ideas that includes some of the most popular state center projects

  • Work with the state tourist board to encourage reading about the state and its heritage (e.g., short reading lists in tourist brochures and maps) and to recognize and publicize the state's literary landmarks.
  • Interview Members of Congress, state officials, and other prominent citizens about books that have made a difference in their lives; publicize and make use of the results.
  • Work with the Governor's office to support reading initiatives and literacy projects.
  • Sponsor a community festival of the book or book fair.
  • Compile a calendar of book and literary events.
  • Name streets and public buildings in honor of authors.
  • Sponsor book awards.
  • Develop a literary map.
  • Organize a Reading Day at a local sports event.
  • Develop a traveling exhibit about a state's literary heritage.
  • Host a Library of Congress traveling exhibit.
  • Sponsor book collecting contests.
  • Commission an essay on state resources for studying the history of books, reading, and libraries.
  • Sponsor an annual "lecture on the book."
  • Designate appropriate places and geographic features as literary landmarks.
  • Sponsor awards programs for reading achievement.
  • Reprint books or essays that describe a state's literary and cultural heritage.
  • Publicize and distribute lists of recommended books for readers of all ages.