Is the book dead? Not according to the thousands of bookworms and literature lovers who braved the rain to come out to the National Book Festival in downtown Washington D.C. over Labor Day weekend. The annual event, which is sponsored by the Library of Congress, featured a star-studded literary line-up with over 100 authors reading and presenting. Speakers included best-selling novelist David Baldacci, New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Authors Guild president Scott Turow.
Luckily for the rainy day attendees, the festival was indoors at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Until 2014, the festival was held on the National Mall. 2017’s event was the 17th National Book Festival, which was founded by First Lady Laura Bush and former Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in 2001. Laura Bush had previously founded the Texas Book Festival in 1995.
The Library of Congress Literacy Awards were announced at the opening gala, and went to the Children’s Literacy Initiative, the National Center for Families Learning, and India’s Pratham Books. Last year, at the 16th annual festival, Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden honored Stephen King for his work in literacy.
Other highlights from this year included a panel on Ernest Hemingway and an opening night discussion from Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough. McCullough discussed his newest book, the timely The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For, and praised the Library of Congress. “The Library of Congress is the greatest library in the world,” McCullough said. “If you ever get down about American culture, there are more public libraries in this country than there are Starbucks.”
The entire event was streamed on C-SPAN, and if you weren’t able to make it to D.C. you can watch the videos online here.