On Saturday, the State Library of Louisiana will present the 16th annual Louisiana Book Festival. This year’s event brings together 230 authors of some of the most important and timely books written this year, for a day of programming that offers something for everyone.
As a member of the Louisiana Library and Book Festival Foundation, the festival’s primary sponsor, I wanted to provide some perspective on this important community event that enriches the lives of so many. I’ve been honored to be on a team that for 16 years has worked to develop and execute this nationally and internationally recognized festival. During this time, the State Library has created one the largest events produced by any state agency in Louisiana that is also free and strives to provide programs for all ages and interests.
Since the inaugural Louisiana Book Festival in 2002, nearly 300,000 people have attended, walked the halls of the State Capitol and the State Library, and mingled with just over 3,200 award-winning authors from all over the world who have written, in all possible styles and genres, about Louisiana.
Each year I watch the State Library staff work tirelessly on top of their regular duties to make the festival the best that it can be. What they accomplish with a small staff is incredible. Comparable festivals have three times the manpower. An undertaking of this size and scope can only be accomplished with long-term partners and supporters, and the book festival has no shortage of these, beginning with one of the biggest champions of the festival, the late Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who as lieutenant governor served as honorary chair of the first festival, as have all succeeding lieutenant governors. In fact, this exemplary public-private partnership combines resources from the city-parish; the efforts of multiple State agencies; private donations through the Louisiana Library and Book Festival Foundation; matching federal dollars; nearly 500 community volunteers; contributions from over 230 authors from all over the world who participate at their own cost; as well as the use of the Louisiana State Capitol for the duration of the festival, an extraordinary privilege for which we are most grateful.
The Louisiana Book Festival is a true standard of success in a state that often ranks at the bottom. It is an event that all of us in Louisiana can be proud of and enjoy. So come out and see just how awesome it is.
board member, Louisiana Library and Book Festival Foundation