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2023-2024 LOUISIANA READERS' CHOICE AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED

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BATON ROUGE, La. – More than 23,000 students across Louisiana read almost 81,000 books during the last year to select the winners of the 2023-2024 Louisiana Readers' Choice Awards.

More students were able to cast votes this year with the addition of a category for kindergarten to second grade. In that category, 9,274 students read almost 31,000 books.

Since the program began 25 years ago, students have ready almost 1.5 million books and cast 460,000 votes.

"The Louisiana Readers' Choice Awards program has always been a great way to get our young people to read," said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. "I'm proud of our State Library staff for taking the initiative to increase participation by adding a category for our youngest readers."

"It's always encouraging to see how many students take part in the Louisiana Readers' Choice Awards voting process. I hope that means they've been busy with books, hopefully developing a lifelong love of reading," said State Librarian Meg Placke. "This year's nominated lists were varied in theme and genre, but the winning and honor titles showcase friendship, teamwork, and empathy."

Winners are selected from booklists carefully chosen by committees of school and public librarians across the state. Many students cast their ballots on voting machines supplied by the Secretary of State's Voter Outreach Division.

This 2023-2024 Louisiana Readers' Choice winners and honor titles are:

Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Kindergarten-Second Grade

Winner: Are You a Cheeseburger?(Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins)

written and illustrated by Monica Arnaldo

Honor: Chez Bob(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Hachette Book Group)

written and illustrated by Bob Shea

Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Grades 3-5

Winner: Allergic(Graphix, Scholastic)

written by Megan Wagner Lloyd, illustrated by Michelle Mee Nutter

Honor: The Floating Field: How a Group of Thai Boys Built Their Own Soccer Field(Millbrook Press, Lerner Publishing Group)

written by Scott Riley, illustrated by Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien

Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Grades 6-8

Winner: Starfish(Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House)

written by Lisa Fipps

Honor: Deadman’s Castle(Margaret Ferguson Books, Holiday House)

written by Iain Lawrence

Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Grades 9-12

Winner: Firekeeper’s Daughter(Henry Holt & Co. Books for Young Readers, Macmillan)

written by Angeline Boulley

Honor: Any Sign of Life(Greenwillow Books, Harper Collins)

written by Rae Carson

An award ceremony for honored authors will be held during the Louisiana Book Festival on Saturday, November 2. For more information about the program, including previous winners, participation information, and additional resources such as bookmarks, posters, and study guides provided at no cost, please visit the Louisiana Readers' Choice Awards website.


Daniel Monteverde
State Library of Louisiana
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Veronica Mosgrove
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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225-342-7009

 

 

LOUISIANA POETS GATHER FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH 2024

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Louisiana Center for the Book hosts 14th annual National Poetry Month Program

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

 

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana will celebrate National Poetry Month in April with the 14th annual Just Listen to Yourself: Louisiana's Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets. Louisiana Poet Laureate Alison Pelegrin will host the event.

Pelegrin has invited six poets from across the state to read their work. Participants are Kelly Harris, Skye Jackson, former Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane, Erin Little, Brad Richard, and Laureate Mona Lisa Saloy, who preceded Pelegrin as the state's Poet Laureate.

The free, in-person event will be held in the first-floor Seminar Center of the State Library in Baton Rouge at noon on Thursday, April 11, 2024. The State Library of Louisiana is located at 701 North 4th Street.

"This program has highlighted some of the best poets – and some rising stars – in the state since it began," said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. "I know Louisiana Poet Laureate Alison Pelegrin's lineup of homegrown talent for the first National Poetry Month presentation of her tenure won't disappoint."

"Is there any music more beautiful than the voices of Louisianans? Who better to remind us of that fact than this spicy group of Louisiana poets celebrating National Poetry Month with words steeped in Louisiana culture, wisdom, and soul," Pelegrin said. "It's an honor to continue this tradition begun by Darrell Bourque and hosted by the State Library through its Center for the Book – all champions of the written and spoken word."

Copies of books by participants will be available for purchase at the program.

The Louisiana Center for the Book, established in the State Library of Louisiana in 1994 for the purpose of stimulating public interest in reading, books, literacy, and libraries and celebrating Louisiana's rich literary heritage, is the official state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. For more information, please visit LouisianaBookFestival.org and follow us on Facebook.

 


Daniel Monteverde
State Library of Louisiana
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225-342-4930

Veronica Mosgrove
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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225-342-7009

 

LOUISIANA NATIVE DAVID KIRBY TO RECEIVE 25TH LOUISIANA WRITER AWARD

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Monday, April 1, 2024

 

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana proudly announces poet and author David Kirby as the recipient of the 25th Louisiana Writer Award. The award is given annually by the Center to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life exemplified by a contemporary Louisiana writer's body of work.

 

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Kirby, the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University, grew up near Baton Rouge and earned his undergraduate degree from LSU. While he's been gone from Louisiana for many years, much of his work is rooted in the state.

"Louisiana is right there in my bloodstream with the red and white cells, the platelets and the plasma. I haven't lived in Baton Rouge for years, but I think of my boyhood there every day – it shapes my writing, my teaching, the conversations I have with old friends and people I've just met," Kirby said upon learning of this recognition. "If you're around for a while and keep at it, you'll win a prize or two, and I've certainly won my share. But none of them means more to me than this year's Louisiana Writer Award."

"David Kirby has never forgotten where he came from, which is obvious in his work, with Louisiana often his inspiration," said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. "He's the type of author the Louisiana Writer Award was established to recognize – not only for his poetry, but David also moves effortlessly among genres."

Kirby has written almost 40 books during his career, including The House on Boulevard St: New and Selected Poems, which was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award. The Winter Dance Party, Poems 1983-2023, a milestone marking 40 years of Kirby's career, is set for an August release from LSU Press.

In addition to poetry, his nonfiction includes Little Richard: The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll, a biography of the flamboyant musician Kirby remembers listening to on a radio during his days as a boy in south Louisiana. He's also written about music for the Chicago TribuneWashington Post, and New York Times Book Review among others.

"David Kirby is like one of those messenger gods of old. He is everywhere bringing the vital and lifesaving messages in the shape of poems," 2007-2011 Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque wrote after learning that Kirby would receive the award. "In his nearly a-book-a-year publications, he limits his coverage to nothing less than to everything he loves, everything he values."

The Louisiana Writer Award will be presented to Kirby during the annual ceremony at the Louisiana Book Festival on Saturday, November 2, in Baton Rouge. Visit the Louisiana Writer Award webpage for more information about Kirby and his work.

Learn more about the 20th Louisiana Book Festival at LouisianaBookFestival.org as the year progresses and follow us on FacebookInstagram, and X (formerly Twitter).

The Louisiana Center for the Book was established in the State Library of Louisiana in 1994 to promote interest in reading, books, literacy, and libraries, and to celebrate Louisiana's rich literary heritage. It is the state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book.


Daniel Monteverde
State Library of Louisiana
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225-342-4930

Veronica Mosgrove
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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225-342-7009

 

WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH PROGRAM SPOTLIGHTS THE SECRET LIFE AND PUBLIC NOTORIETY OF KATE CHOPIN

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BATON ROUGE, La. – It was 125 years ago when Kate Chopin's The Awakening hit shelves – and faced immediate backlash.

Called "poison" by The St. Louis Republic and "trite and sordid" by The Pittsburgh Leader, the novel about a woman who embarks upon a journey of self-discovery while on vacation in Grand Isle was out of step for the time and largely forgotten until well into the 20th century.

Who was Chopin and what led her to write the controversial novel in 1899? Dr. Emily Toth will answer that question during her presentation, "Kate Chopin's Secret Life and Public Notoriety," as the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana celebrates Women's History Month.

The virtual program will be available on YouTube and Facebook on Monday, March 18, 2024.

Toth, who writes about Louisiana women and describes herself as a "lifelong fan of gossip and biography," is a professor of English and women's studies at LSU. She holds a PhD in comparative literature from Johns Hopkins University, where she "discovered Kate Chopin and the power of women's secrets," according to her academic biography. "She honed her listening and secret-finding skills as a professor at Louisiana State University."

Toth is the author of Kate Chopin, a 1990 biography of the writer that was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written four other books on the author. The Louisiana Center for the Book, established in the State Library of Louisiana in 1994 for the purpose of stimulating public interest in reading, books, literacy, and libraries and celebrating Louisiana's rich literary heritage, is the state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. For more information, please visit LouisianaBookFestival.org and follow us on Facebook.


Daniel Monteverde
State Library of Louisiana
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225-342-4930

Veronica Mosgrove
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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225-342-7009

 

BLACK HISTORY MONTH PROGRAM TO FEATURE POET MONA LISA SALOY

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BATON ROUGE, La.– The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana will celebrate Black History Month with a virtual presentation featuring New Orleans native and former Louisiana Poet Laureate Mona Lisa Saloy,whose books of poetry focus on Black Creole culture. The recorded presentation will debut onYouTubeand Facebook on Monday, February 26, 2024.

Saloy’s presentation, titled Some History of the 7th Ward, will shine a spotlight on the historic Black neighborhood in New Orleans.

“The 7th Ward has nurtured so much of the Black culture that makes Louisiana and New Orleans such unique places. Its importance can’t be overstated,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “There are few people as qualified as Mona Lisa Saloy to tell the stories of the neighborhood and its people, and I am proud The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana has partnered with her to honor Louisiana’s rich Black history and culture.”

Mona Lisa Saloy is an author, folklorist, and scholar of Creole culture. She is the Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Professor of English at Dillard University in New Orleans and recently completed her second term as Louisiana Poet Laureate.

Her first poetry collection, Red Beans and Ricely Yours, won the T.S. Eliot Prize and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award. Her second, Second Line Home, celebrates New Orleans Black Creole culture.

Black Creole Chronicles, her most recent book, continues that theme. It is the 2024 selection for One Book One New Orleans, a program that invites people to read the same book at the same time as a way to increase literacy and a sense of community.

Saloy said her presentation will focus on the importance of the 7th Ward, a neighborhood with a rich but often overlooked history despite its location near the French Quarter.

“Many folks ask what’s the deal with the 7th Ward? Where was the Black downtown? Gens de couleur what? We’ll celebrate some highlights of the neighborhood’s distinct history, from arts of the streets up to the founders of jazz, architectural links to Africa, and the St. Augustine Marching 100,” Saloy said. “You’ll also hear some new poems.”

Black Creole Chronicles: Poemsis available for purchase through Cavalier House Books, the Louisiana Book Festival’s bookseller. Use code BHM2024 for a 20% discount at checkout.

The Louisiana Center for the Book, established in the State Library of Louisiana in 1994 for the purpose of stimulating public interest in reading, books, literacy, and libraries and celebrating Louisiana’s rich literary heritage, is the state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. For more information, please visit LouisianaBookFestival.org and follow us on Facebook.


Daniel Monteverde
State Library of Louisiana
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225-342-4930

Veronica Mosgrove
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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225-342-7009

 

PUBLIC LIBRARY USAGE CLIMBS IN LOUISIANA

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BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana's public libraries recorded more than 9 million visits in 2022 and patrons checked out items more than 46 million times, marking double-digit growth over the prior year, newly released figures show.

The numbers were reported in the 2022 edition of Public Libraries in Louisiana: Statistical Report, which is compiled by the State Library of Louisiana and was recently completed and released. All 67 public library systems in the state provided data for the report.

"Public libraries are so important to the communities they serve. The proof is there in black and white when you look at these stats," said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. "Our libraries are true community hubs with so many different and invaluable services. A vibrant state needs vibrant public libraries, and we have that here in Louisiana."

In-person visits to the 334 public library locations and 29 bookmobiles across the state dropped steeply during the coronavirus pandemic when stay-at-home orders were in place. But visits have steadily increased since 2020. In 2022, public libraries saw 9.2 million visits, an increase of 21% compared to the prior year.

While visits fell off during the pandemic, the public's appetite for items to check out remained insatiable. In fact, that figure has only grown. Patrons borrowed items 46.8 million times in 2022, an increase of 13% compared to 2021. Of the loans in 2022, 35.1 million of them were electronic items, such as e-books.

Use of electronic resources also continued to grow, the report shows. Patrons used computers at public libraries 1.8 million times and logged on to Wi-Fi 4.7 million times in 2022.

Also of note:

• There were 2.4 million library card holders in Louisiana in 2022, almost 54% of the state.
Librarians answered 2.5 million reference questions in person and online.
• 2.1 million people attended almost 75,000 in-person and live virtual events hosted by public libraries.
• Electronic databases were accessed almost 26 million times by library card holders.
• More than 72,000 items were borrowed for patrons by their home library from another library through the Interlibrary Loan System.

"These figures clearly show the public's enthusiasm for all the services libraries provide, especially when you consider that Louisiana's population is about 4.5 million people," said State Librarian Meg Placke. "We say it all the time: the modern library is more than just a place to check out books. And the best part is these services are offered free of charge."

"I've been putting this report together for a long time, and I'm so gratified to see these numbers show growth," said Associate State Librarian Michael Golrick. "Patrons have made it clear that they value what their local libraries offer."

A complete copy of the 2022 Public Libraries in Louisiana: Statistical Report and previous year's editions can be found on the State Library's website.


Daniel Monteverde
State Library of Louisiana
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225-342-4930

Veronica Mosgrove
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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225-342-7009

 

LOUISIANA BOOK FESTIVAL ATTENDANCE CONTINUES TO CLIMB

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Wednesday, December 06, 2023

BATON ROUGE, La. – More than 21,000 people attended the 2023 Louisiana Book Festival and associated events, continuing a rebound that began once the festival returned to in-person programming.

"It's not surprising the number of people who attend the Louisiana Book Festival is growing after a few years in the virtual world. Year in and year out, the staff puts together an amazing lineup of authors and presentations," said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. "Like a lot of events, the book festival had to remind people that it was back in person. The public has obviously received that message and wholeheartedly embraced the live festival's return."

Almost 200 authors and more than 100 exhibitors took part in the 19th Louisiana Book Festival, which was held Saturday, October 28, at the State Library of Louisiana, Capitol Park Museum, and the State Capitol. Attendance was up from 2022, which totaled about 14,000 people despite a rainy day that year.

"We could not have asked for better weather this year," said State Librarian Meg Placke. "That combined with the lineup was a recipe for success. We are so grateful to everyone who comes back every year, and we can't wait to see them and lots of new faces next year for the 20th Louisiana Book Festival."

While most of the activity happens in Baton Rouge the day of the festival, there are writing workshops held the day before the festival and programs at schools and public libraries around the state in the days before and after. One of the goals of the Louisiana Book Festival is to inspire a love of literature and reading at an early age.

"That's why we have such a large list of children's and young adult authors who take part every year," said Jim Davis, the book festival's executive director. "But we know not everyone can make it to Baton Rouge for the big day, so we take a little bit of the festival to them. They seem to love it as much as we hoped they would, and we couldn't do it without the willingness and enthusiasm of our wonderful authors and presenters to promote literacy and reading."

The date of the 2024 Louisiana Book Festival will be announced in the coming weeks on LouisianaBookFestival.org and the festival's social media channels on Facebook and Instagram.

The Louisiana Center for the Book, the official state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, was established in the State Library of Louisiana in 1994. Its mission is to stimulate public interest in reading, books, literacy, and libraries and to celebrate Louisiana's rich literary heritage through events such as the Louisiana Book Festival.


Daniel Monteverde
State Library of Louisiana
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225-342-4930

Veronica Mosgrove
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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225-342-7009

 

2023 LOUISIANA BOOK FESTIVAL WELCOMES YOUNG READERS

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BATON ROUGE, La.– An exciting day of activities and programs for everyone from toddlers to teens will be among the attractions during the 19th Annual Louisiana Book Festival on Saturday, October 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Baton Rouge's Capitol Park area.

The Young Readers Pavilion will feature appearances by beloved storybook characters from Mo Willems’s Elephant and Piggie books, authors talking to children about their featured books, musical performances, face painting, balloon artists, and book-related crafts. Teen HQ in the State Library of Louisiana building is an area for teens and tweens to hang out and plan their day. It will include crafts, giveaways, and trivia games.

“One of the goals of the Louisiana Book Festival is to inspire a love of reading and literature, and we want to make sure that starts with our youngest readers. That’s why the staff of the State Library and the Louisiana Book Festival take a lot of care to make sure the day is inviting for everyone, especially children and teens,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “We want the next generation of readers and writers to start here.”

There will be three children’s tents, where 19 featured authorswill make appearances and interact with young readers. Among those authors are Matt Haines (The Little Book of King Cakes), Shannon Atwater (Goodnight, Pothole), Winsome Bingham (The Walk), and Emma Bland Smith, who wrote Claude: The True Story of a White Alligator, winner of the 2022-2023 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award for Grades 3-5.

The annual Louisiana Readers’ Choice Awards ceremony, will be held at 11:30 a.m. in the State Library’s Capitol View Room, where Smith will be joined by the other two recipients of 2022-2023 Louisiana Readers’ Choice Awards,Carrie Firestone, whose Dress Coded won the Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award for Grades 6-8, and Robin Ha, whose Almost American Girl won the Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Award for Grades 9-12. Lyla Lee, whose book I’ll Be the One is the honor book for the Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Award for Grades 9-12, will also be recognized at the ceremony.

“We couldn’t be happier to have all the winners of the Louisiana Readers’ Choice Awardsat this year’s festival. It’s an exciting first for us,” said Megan Thomas, the book festival’s Children’s Coordinator. “The Louisiana Book Festival is a great way for children and teens to meet some of their favorite authors, and the votes that students cast during the Louisiana Readers’ Choice Awards made it clear that these authors rank high.”

“In addition to all activities like games and arts and crafts, there are nearly a dozen eventswhere children and teens can meet authors during the Louisiana Book Festival. It’s always exciting to connect readers with their favorite writers,” said Teen HQ Coordinator Skye Norwood. “Whether young readers are into nonfiction, fantasy, mysteries, thrillers, or poetry, we have something for them.”

Another highlight for young people will be the five members of the National Student Poets Class of 2023. The program returns to the Louisiana Book Festival for its second year.

Hayley Arceneaux, a Baton Rouge native who became the first pediatric cancer survivor in space and the youngest person to orbit the earth, will discuss her book, Wild Ride, during a program for young readers and adults at 9 a.m. in the State Library Seminar Center.

Musical performer Rick Kelley of Music with a Message for Kids will spend the two weeks leading up to the festival visiting schools and libraries in all corners of the state promoting the Louisiana Book Festival. His interactive performances, which involve music, singing, and promotion of literacy, inspire kids to read and find joy in books and libraries.

Outreach programs continue with authors Emma Bland Smith, Carrie Firestone, Robin Ha, and Chris Barton who will also make appearances at schools and libraries in the days before the festival.

All authors are scheduled for signings in the festival book tent operated by Cavalier House Booksof Denham Springs.

For more information about the 2023 Louisiana Book Festival, visit LouisianaBookFestival.org.

The Louisiana Center for the Book was established in the State Library of Louisiana in 1994. Its mission is to stimulate public interest in reading, books, literacy, and libraries and to celebrate Louisiana’s rich literary heritage. It is the official state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book.


Danny Monteverde
State Library of Louisiana
225-342-4930
 
Barry Landry
Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism
225-342-7009
 
Veronica Mosgrove
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
225-342-7009
 
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