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Library of Congress Chooses New Venue for National Book Festival

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Beginning in March, the Library of Congress will host birthday celebrations for authors Phillip Roth, Vladimir Nabokov, and poet Countee Cullen--on March 19, April 22, and May 30, respectively. For each event, writers and poets will read from the authors' works. The Library's Manuscript Division and Rare Book and Special Collections Division will also display materials from each author's Library of Congress collections.   

 The Library's National Book Festival, to be held on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, will change venues from the National Mall to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, also in Washington, allowing for the addition of two new pavilions and a series of evening events. Some wonder whether the festival's new additions and air-conditioned comforts will be able to compete with the previous excitement and bustle of the National Mall, something unique to the National Book Festival until this year.

 The previous three times I have attended the festival on the Mall, I visited each of the pavilions, listened to authors talk with Capitol Hill as their backdrop, and passed time gazing at the Washington Monument while waiting for book signings. Though my shoulders ached from carrying my literary materials throughout the day, I enjoyed it. For me, the festival celebrated more than just literature. It also celebrated the nation's capital, and what better place to celebrate literature, literacy, and the nation than in the heart Washington, D.C.?

That said, the convention center will offer a new International Pavilion and a "Great Books to Great Movies" Pavilion. Evening events will include a panel discussion and screening of a movie adapted from classic literature. Will these new additions compensate for the change in the festival's ambiance? Wait and see.

Will you be attending the Library of Congress' literary celebrations and the National Book Festival? What are your thoughts on the festival's new venue and events? Leave your opinions in the comments below or tweet Education Week Commentary at @EdWeekComm. 

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