Activities Highlight Library Partnership

Posted March 12, 2007 at 4:56pm

A series of activities today at the Library of Congress will celebrate a new partnership with the National Literary Society of the Deaf and the Center for the Book. Leaders from both organizations say that the new partnership will make way for projects and initiatives that raise reading awareness in the deaf community. [IMGCAP(1)]

“The notion is to help organizations develop projects that promote reading … we facilitate projects for each of these partners,” said John Cole, director of the Center for the Book. “Working with the deaf organizations to promote reading in their community also enables us to draw them into our community.”

Cole said the partnership was formed from a series of talks with leaders in the deaf community, beginning last year when organizations celebrated the first Deaf History Month Program held at the Library of Congress.

Today’s event will feature talks from Ricardo Lopez, president of the National Literary Society of the Deaf, Robert Davila, president of Gallaudet University and Nancy Block, chief executive officer of the National Association of the Deaf. Other speakers include Diana Gates, reference and instruction librarian at Gallaudet University Library and Gina Cooper, executive director of the D.C. Public Library.

“This partnership with the Center for the Book is important for the deaf community because of its diversity,” Lopez said. “The NLSD is looking forward to forg[ing] collaborative efforts with libraries all over the country, to develop strategies for interested organizations in local communities.”

The PBS film documentary “Through Deaf Eyes” will be shown at today’s event. Filmmakers say the documentary is the first comprehensive film on deaf history. Karen Kenton, the film’s executive producer, said an exhibit from Gallaudet University in 2001 inspired the project.

“We wanted to broaden people’s concept of what is normal,” Kenton said. “There’s [not just] one way of being deaf.”

The film tells a variety of stories and touches some of the most fundamental issues facing the deaf community, including how technology contributed to social change for deaf people and the arguments on how deaf children should be educated.

The event at the Library of Congress includes a tour of the Thomas Jefferson Building and an unveiling of three new directories that will be made available in public libraries. “Deaf Community Contacts @ your library,” “Speakers and Storytellers Sign @ your library” and “Books About and By Deaf Persons @ your library” are being developed by Alice Hagemeyer, founder and president of Friends of Libraries for Deaf.

“The directories would provide resources to libraries in their efforts to promote deaf culture, books and literacy,” Hagemeyer said.

The NLSD was established in 1907, when 28 deaf people who wanted to further their education attended a meeting at an Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. Today, the group boasts 2,000 organizations and individuals.

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress partners with more than 80 organizations to promote reading, libraries and literacy.

“Reading for pleasure is decreasing in our country, so we have events to highlight the importance of reading for individual fulfillment,” Cole said.

Cole said the Center for the Book brings together organizations to develop projects to promote literacy.

“The whole purpose for the center is that there is a link between reading, literacy and democracy,” Cole said.

The event, sponsored by the Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action and the Library of Congress Deaf Association, is free and open to the public. The first part of the program will begin at 11 a.m. in the West Dining Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building.