Book Festival Draws Crowds despite Mud, Tight Security. (News Fronts Washington)

Article excerpt

The heightened security and muddy lawns that marked the second National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., couldn't keep the crowds away. Some 40,000 book lovers strolled the grounds of the U.S. Capitol October 12, dropping in and out of billowing white circus-style tents where authors and books were the main attraction.

First Lady Laura Bush, a former librarian, and Librarian of Congress James Billington presided over the daylong festival, which was free to the public and featured over 70 authors, illustrators, and storytellers.

In contrast to last year's kickoff on the steps of LC's Jefferson Building (AL, Oct. 2001, p. 16-17), this year's invitation-only opening ceremonies were held inside the White House. "Let this festival remind us of the pure joy of the bookworm," the First Lady proclaimed. She later toured the festival accompanied by Russian First Lady Lyudmila Putin.

Building on the success of last year's inaugural festival, this year's event also included book discussions; appearances by children's storybook characters such as Clifford the Big Red Dog; performances representing a wide range of America's musical traditions; and a conservation clinic for books, family letters, and albums. In contrast to last year, there was no admission to government buildings; book sales, signings, and all other events were held in tents on the Mall. …