New York state literary center appoints new director at SU
The New York Center for the Book announced Oct. 26 that Natasha Cooper would serve as the center’s new director.
The New York state center is based at Syracuse University’s E.S. Bird Library, where it was established in March of 2002, said Mary Beth Hinton, associate director of Bird. Cooper has been a SU reference librarian since 2000 and her appointment as director will only be a part-time job.
‘Some duties will be taken over but not all,’ she said.
Deirdre C. Stam started the program in 2002 while living in Syracuse, Hinton said. Although Bird was the official site for New York state, Stam ran the operation out of her office in New York City. At the time, she was a professor at the Palmer School of Library and Information Science at Long Island University.
Hinton said it will be nice for the center to now be run out of the library.
The goal of the entire center is to promote books, reading and the role that they play, Cooper said. The New York state center has run programs such as Letters About Literature and the Immigrant Writing Program and has taken part in the National Book Festival.
One of the challenges of the center is that it is a state program and the entire state needs to be considered, Cooper said.
‘I need to figure out what’s unique to New York state in reading,’ she said.
Stam created the Immigrant Writing Program after considering the significance of Ellis Island to New York, Cooper said.
‘(Stam) looked at how it exists as a strong part of New York and its role in the development of the state,’ Cooper said.
Letters About Literature is a yearly competition in which children write letters about a book and how it influenced them, Cooper said. The national winners are given the chance to read their letter at the annual National Book Festival.
The festival takes place every fall on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Cooper said. Authors read in different pavilions throughout the festival and each state affiliate center is given a place.
The New York state center is an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, said John Y. Cole, the director of the National Center for the Book. There are affiliates in all 50 states. Daniel Boorstin, a librarian at the Library of Congress, created the original Center for the Book in 1977.
‘It was a small catalytic office,’ he said. ‘There was just one person for the first year.’
Either private gifts or government foundations provide all the funding, Cole said. The state affiliates and the National Reading Promotion Partners, a collection of not-for-profit literacy groups, make up the two subdivisions of the organization.
A 2002 press release announcing the establishment of the center said the Onondaga County Public Library, various SU schools and colleges and ProLiteracy Worldwide act as major resources in the Syracuse area for the New York state center. The Columbia University Library and SU’s Lubin House act as offices in New York City.
Still in an exploratory stage, Cooper is working at continuing Stam’s projects, Hinton said. Although it is a statewide center, Cooper is still drawing on local resources while making sure organizations throughout the state are involved.
Last year the library associates coordinated Central New York Reads, Hinton said, calling it an extensive program that demonstrated a lot of interest in the community.
Central New York Reads is similar to the ‘One Book’ reading promotion project, a program Cooper said is interested in creating at the New York state center. The program, already a part of many state affiliate communities, involves an entire community reading the same book.
The CNY Reads book for 2006-2007 is Khaled Hosseini’s ‘The Kite Runner,’ a book SU adopted as the required reading for this years freshman class.
‘At least coming not knowing anybody, there was something everyone had in common, even if it was just complaining about the book or saying it was good,’ said Kelsey McCraney, a freshman education major who read the book before coming to SU in the fall. ‘I think it was a good idea just because it is something else you can bring up and discuss, it’s always nice to hear other people’s opinions.’
For more information, see NYbook.org.
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