The Library of Congress and its highly popular celebration of authors and readers, the National Book Festival, will mark a double anniversary in 2015. In addition to recognizing the festival’s 15th year since its founding by Laura Bush and Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, the event will celebrate 200 years since the Library’s acquisition of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library.
The festival will take place Saturday, September 5, 2015, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. All programs will be free of charge.
The festival’s theme, "I Cannot Live Without Books," is a tribute to Jefferson’s legacy and his offer of his own books to replace the fledgling congressional library that was destroyed by fire during the British attack on the U.S. Capitol in 1814. The purchase of his 6,400 volumes was finalized in 1815 and the collection eventually was installed in the Library of Congress, where it is still on display and in use. Based on that core collection, the Library went on to become the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in near-countless collections. Festivalgoers this year will be given a very special glimpse into Jefferson’s lifelong passion for books.
"The Library of Congress National Book Festival has become a Washington tradition that attracts book lovers not only from the metropolitan area but across the country, and all anticipate this celebration of reading each year," Billington said. "We are planning many new features to make our 15th anniversary an extra-special event."
The National Book Festival is funded by private donors and corporate sponsors who share the Library’s commitment to reading and literacy. Since 2010, National Book Festival Board Co-Chairman David M. Rubenstein has been the festival’s lead benefactor and has pledged funding for the festival for five more years. Charter Sponsors include the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo; Patron sponsor, the National Endowment for the Arts and other sponsors will continue their support in 2015. The Junior League of Washington will also return as the Library’s primary partner for volunteer support, a role the organization has played since 2003. Those interested in supporting the National Book Festival can contact the Library at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among the first to authors accept the festival’s invitations this year are eminent historians Annette Gordon-Reed, David McCullough and Walter Isaacson; Guggenheim Fellow Daniel Alarcón; Newbery Medal-winner Kwame Alexander; PEN/Faulkner Award winner Ha Jin; Guggenheim Fellow Naomi Shihab Nye; and Pulitzer Prize for fiction winners Marilynne Robinson and Jane Smiley.
The festival will feature more than 100 distinguished authors across many fields and in all genres of writing, with audiences ranging from young readers to adults. Although new programming is promised for 2015, the festival will continue to offer its popular pavilions dedicated to Children, Teens, Contemporary Life, History & Biography, Fiction & Mystery, Graphic Novels, Picture Books, Science, Poetry & Prose and the Culinary Arts.
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may be accessed through its website, www.loc.gov.