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   Volume II, Issue 1
September 2005   

Introducing the Pennsylvania Center for the Book

by Barbara Quintiliano and Jacqueline Mirabile

What do Benjamin Franklin, Anna Quindlen, August Wilson and John Updike have in common? All are writers with connections to Pennsylvania. You can search Pennsylvania’s rich literary history through the interactive Literary Map of Pennsylvania, created by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book.

One of the most attractive and informative features of the Center’s Web site, the interactive Literary Map of Pennsylvania, is the most ambitious and well-thought-out online resource of its kind. Passing your computer mouse over the name of a town, you will see a pop-up photo and brief biographical information on an author associated with the location. Other icons link to information about the earliest newspaper in each county and to the history of Pennsylvania’s Carnegie libraries.

Dr. Steven Herb
The Pennsylvania Center for the Book was the featured topic for the third session of the 2005 LVJ Summer Institutes, which took place on August 3 at Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library. Guest speaker was Dr. Steven Herb, director of the Center. The audience consisted of staff members from the libraries of La Salle, St. Joseph’s, and Villanova Universities. Dr. Herb caught their attention immediately by giving a fifteen-question quiz on writers associated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Judy Olsen, reference librarian at Falvey, scored highest on the quiz, answering a whopping five of the fifteen questions correctly, and received –what else?-- a book.

The Center also sponsors the popular Public Poetry Project, which encourages displays of poetry in everyday places, as well as the Letters about Literature contest in which children write to an author, living or dead, explaining the influence of their chosen author’s book on their lives.

The mission of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book is “to study, honor, celebrate, and promote books, reading, libraries, and literacy to the citizens and residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” (from the Center’s Web site). Established by an Act of Congress in 1977 and approved by the Library of Congress to begin operation on January 1, 2000, the Center joins 41 other state Centers for the Book in the United States. Penn State University’s Pattee Library houses the Center and has been its sponsor for the last six years.

In addition to fascinating information on various aspects of books and authors connected with Pennsylvania, the Center’s Web site features lists of bookstores, publishers, and book restorers located in the state, as well as links to audio book reviews, information about copyright, lesson plans for encouraging family literacy, county geologic maps, county histories, and much more.

Dr. Herb noted that the Literary Map of Pennsylvania is under continual revision, and he plans to add information on authors associated with Pennsylvania colleges and universities and perhaps even a feature on the wealth of writing produced by inmates of the state’s prisons. Dr. Herb encouraged visitors to use the Web site’s online form for suggesting additional authors and features. Links to literary works by genre and to historical societies and museums were some of the suggestions from the audience.

Dr. Herb holds the rank of librarian and the affiliate rank of professor of language and literacy education at Penn State University, where he is an award-winning instructor. He has been chair of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, president of the Association for Library Service to Children, and has co-authored books on the history of the Nittany Lion and on the importance of books in preschool settings.

As indicated by its title, the LVJ Summer Institute series, which just concluded its second successful year, is a collaborative effort by librarians at La Salle, Villanova, and St. Joseph’s Universities. Taking advantage of the less hectic summer months, the LVJ team schedules three informal seminars to keep the library staff of all three institutions informed about new developments in the field of academic librarianship.

LVJ I was held May 13 at Drexel Library, St. Joseph’s University, on the topic of library collection analysis. Bob Kieft, director of College Information Resources and college librarian at Haverford College, demonstrated Spectra CRC, a collection analysis software package developed by Library Dynamics. His presentation was followed by Kris Senecal, library consultant for PALINET, a mid-Atlantic library cooperative, who introduced audience members to OCLC’s WorldCat collection analysis service.

LVJ II took place on June 14 in Olney Hall on the La Salle University campus and featured Thomas Ipri, media services librarian, and James Sell, director of portal operations at La Salle, in a presentation entitled, “Reconceptualizing Library Web Services: How a Portal Changes Everything.”

Literary Map of Pennsylvania

The members of the 2005 LVJ team are Evelyn Minick, university librarian
(St. Joseph’s University); Bernetta Doane, reference librarian/coordinator of library instruction (La Salle University); and Barbara Quintiliano, instructional design librarian (Villanova University).

Photograph of Dr. Steven Herb courtesy of "Bookmark" radio program, hosted by Cynthia Berger on WPSU-FM, Penn State Public Broadcasting

Contributed by Barbara Quintiliano and Jacqueline Mirabile, reference/government documents librarian.