October 2014 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Award Winners at the Library of Congress

Coming up this week on Friday, the winners of the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest will be feted at the Library of Congress. With encouragement from Fine Books & Collections, which launched the contest back in 2005, the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA) now carries the baton for this competition, with support from the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS), the Center for the Book and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division (Library of Congress), and the Jay I. Kislak Foundation. Our longtime featured columnist and author, most recently, of On Paper, Nick Basbanes, will give this year's talk on the dynamics of collecting over the last 25 years, as he's witnessed it. A grand time will surely be had by all.

To be honored are the following young collectors:

First Prize: Katya Soll, University of Kansas, Dictatorship, Recovery, and Innovation: Contemporary Theatre of the Southern Cone
Second Prize: Hanna Kipnis King, Swarthmore, "Plucked from a holy book": Ashkenazim on the margins
Third Prize: Audrey Golden, University of Virginia, Pablo Neruda and the Global Politics of Poetry
Another trio of important prizes was given out last week at the LOC. The 2014 Library of Congress Literacy Awards, held on October 8, were originated and are supported by philanthropist (and book collector) David M. Rubenstein, and he gave the keynote address. Michael Suarez, director of Rare Book School, also delivered remarks.

During the ceremony, John Cole, the director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, and Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, recognized organizations that have shown exemplary progress in literacy programs and promotion. Each of these three winners gave presentations about their work:

David M. Rubenstein Prize ($150,000): Room to Read
Room to Read, founded in 2001, believes that world change starts with educated children and that the best way to create long-term systemic change in the developing world is through literacy and gender equality in education. It focuses on literacy  as the foundation of all other learning by developing reading skills and the habit of reading among primary-school children. To achieve this goal, Room to Read increases access to culturally relevant, age-appropriate reading materials; increases the effectiveness of instructors teaching literacy skills; and improves the existing school environment so that it is more conducive to learning. The organization also aims to equalize the educational experience for girls by supporting them in completing secondary school with the academic and life skills necessary to succeed in school and beyond. Room to Read's service area
is Africa and Southeast Asia.

The American Prize ($50,000): SMART
The third-grade reading level is widely recognized as a key indicator of a child's future educational success. A student who  cannot read on grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently in third grade. In 1992, the Oregon Children's Foundation created a program to address the growing number of elementary school children who were reading significantly below grade level. Start Making a Reader Today (SMART) now operates at more than 250 program sites throughout the U.S. and serves approximately 9,000 children each year.

The International Prize ($50,000): Mother Child Education Foundation
The Mother Child Education Foundation (A?EV) was started in 1993 and is the largest literacy organization in Turkey. Its mission is to empower the Turkish people through education and enable them to improve the quality of their lives. It operates a variety of projects designed to address family, adult and early childhood literacy. At the time of A?EV's founding, only one in 10 children received any form of preschool education before starting primary school, resulting in large deficits in readiness to learn. A?EV developed the Mother Child Education Program (MOCEP) for low-income mothers and children without access to preschool education. However, early MOCEP trials revealed that not all participating mothers were literate and therefore many were unable to carry out the collaborative cognitive exercises with their children, pushing A?EV into a complementary area of need, adult literacy.