The Texas Book Festival & Librarians: A Partnership from the Beginning

By Meraz, Gloria | Texas Library Journal, Fall 2016 | Go to article overview

The Texas Book Festival & Librarians: A Partnership from the Beginning


Meraz, Gloria, Texas Library Journal


As most of you know, the Texas Book Festival was launched in 1995 by then First Lady of Texas Laura Bush and a committed group of volunteers, including librarians. The Book Festival bloomed out of a desire to advance literacy efforts in the state, support Texas public libraries, and promote Texas authors and literature.

Now, on its 20th anniversary,TBF is a state institution - an event like no other that brings together diverse people all in the name of literacy.

TLJ asked our librarian community to share their personal TBF stories. Below, you will read remembrances of TBFs past. We want to celebrate the many wonderful years of past festivals, but we also want to energize you to participate and volunteer for the 2016TBF. Let's keep this great event growing strong!

Memories...

For nine of the first 10 years, I handled the children's authors. Laura Bush attended some of the sessions with her daughter, Jenna. It was fun to see them sitting on the floor listening to authors speaking. One of the programs I started is the precursor to today's Reading Rock Stars that brings authors into schools that would otherwise never have that kind of program and gives copies of their books to the students. A neat project we did while I was at the Texas State Library was to create autograph books for the kids. The booklets included some fun activities as well as autographs from the Governor and First Lady. These gave the kids a reason to talk to the authors and get an autograph even if they couldn't buy a book. The best part about working at the Book Festival in the early years was being invited to the White House for the National Book Festival. Jeanetfe Larson

The first year I attended the Texas Book Festival (probably 1998 or 1999), I spoke with Naomi Shihab Nye. I had heard about a book of hers called Mint: A Chapbook of Poems that I was unable to find in any bookstore - new or used. When I told her this, she said she had just gotten a call from a bookseller somewhere who had multiple copies that she was buying back from him. She offered to send me one when they arrived. And she did - along with some promotional material for another book. Multiple moves (including to Indiana) later, and I still have Mint and the other items. In fact, an autographed copy of her poem "Who's Rich?" is in my office now. All of these treasures came from one little conversation at the Texas Book Festival.

Another year at the Texas Book Festival (2001 or 2002), I was the author escort for Joan Lowery Nixon. We talked about her book The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore, and I told her that reading that book as a teen had made quite an impression since it was set in Houston. …

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