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December 6, 2012

Renowned Reader Supports New Literacy Awards As Library of Congress Hosts International Summit of the Book

$1.5 Million Gift from David Rubenstein Will Support Literacy Nationally, Internationally

The Library of Congress today opened the first International Summit of the Book, a gathering of leaders in academia, libraries, culture and technology to discuss the powerful and crucial form of information transmittal. As the conference opened, attendee and longtime friend of reading David Rubenstein announced he is contributing $1.5 million to fund three new Library of Congress annual literacy awards over five years.

"Reading has been a powerful force in my life and is a major contributor to my success," said Rubenstein, a co-founder of the Carlyle Group and major donor to the Library of Congress, including its annual National Book Festival. "The public library my parents urged me to investigate as a child turned into a limitless source of information and amazement. For me, it opened a door to the universe.

"Considering that the Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, it’s an apt place to launch this series of literacy awards."

The trio of annual awards will include the David M. Rubenstein Prize for a groundbreaking contribution to the sustained advancement of literacy by any individual or entity worldwide; the American Prize, honoring a project developed and deployed in the United States during the preceding decade with special emphasis on combating aliteracy; and the International Prize, which would honor the outstanding work of an individual, a nation or a non-governmental organization (NGO) working in a specific country or region.

"The Library of Congress joins the nation and the world in gratitude for this latest expression of David Rubenstein’s support for the life of the mind," said James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress.

"David has long supported the popular National Book Festival, has made it possible for us to display the historic Abel Buell map of America and has been generous with the Library and the American people in many other ways," Dr. Billington said. "This new set of awards will invigorate those who understand the value of literacy to critical thinking and how essential it is to living and good government."

The literacy awards program will be managed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book. Final selection of prize winners will be made by the Librarian of Congress, who will solicit recommendations from literacy experts on a National Advisory Board to be established for the program. Criteria for the prizes include innovation, replicability, sustainability, measurable impact and demonstration of reliance on existing professional literature and applied practice.

The first winners will be announced in 2013 at the second annual International Summit of the Book, which will be held in Singapore on August 16, 2013.

The literacy awards announcement was a rousing kickoff for the first-ever summit, where a panoply of experts in books, literacy and publishing met to discuss the value of books and the challenges faced by cultures that rely on this long form of information transmittal.

"Books in their many forms are nothing short of imperative to an informed democracy," Billington said. "They key is its in-depth format: this presentation of a concept or story is the key to converting mere information into knowledge."

In addition to Rubenstein and Billington, scheduled speakers at the two-day first International Summit include Rep. John Larson of Connecticut, who was instrumental in conceiving the summit; U.S. Sen.. Jack Reed, Rhode Island; Ismail Serageldin, director of the Library of Alexandria and director of the World Digital Library Executive Council; Elizabeth Eisenstein, historian of early printing; Caroline Brazier, Director of Scholarship and Collections, The British Library; Anton Likhomanov, director general of the National Library of Russia; Glòria Pérez-Salmerón, director of the National Library of Spain; Ramón Mujica Pinilla, director of the Biblioteca Nacional del Peru; and John Kgwale Tsebe, the National Librarian of South Africa.

Also appearing are rare-book experts Michael Suarez of the University of Virginia and Mark Dimunation and Daniel DeSimone of the Library of Congress; Marie Arana, an author, writer-at-large for the Washington Post and senior consultant to the Librarian of Congress; Tom Allen, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers; James Shapiro, vice president of the Authors Guild; Nan Talese, senior vice president and publisher at Doubleday; Geoff Kloske, president and publisher at Riverhead/Penguin books; Karen Lotz, president and publisher at Candlewick Press; and Niko Pfund, president and publisher at Oxford University Press.

The U.S. Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, is slated to speak on Friday, as is author Walter Dean Myers, currently designated by the Librarian of Congress as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

The summit was made possible by the generous support of the Newman’s Own Foundation, which turns all net profits and royalties from the sale of Newman’s Own products into charitable donations. Bob Forrester, president and CEO of the Newman’s Own Foundation, said the late actor and founder of Newman’s Own, Paul Newman, was a lover of books and would have been delighted at his foundation’s sponsorship of the event.

The 2012 International Summit of the Book begins what library leaders envision as an annual global meeting of minds to discuss and promote the book as a crucial format for conveying societies’ scholarship and culture. The event will conclude with a ceremony recognizing The National Library of Singapore, which will host the next summit in Singapore August 16, 2013.

The International Summit on the Book at the Library of Congress is part of a larger "Celebration of the Book" at the Library, which encompasses multiple events and programs, including the National Book Festival and the "Books That Shaped America" exhibition. An online survey soliciting feedback on the "Books That Shaped America" list attracted comments from nearly 9,400 readers.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at

Join the discussion on Twitter @librarycongress #booksummit

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PR 12-221
ISSN 0731-3527

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