The Center for the Book Is a State of Mind

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Show Notes

Straight from “the mothership of all libraries,” Guy Lamolinara, head of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, joins Laura and Don to discuss how his career evolved from aspiring dentist to journalist to thirty-four-year veteran of the Library of Congress, his formative years in Cleveland, the network of Center for the Book state affiliates, the upcoming the National Book Festival, and much more.  

The Library of Congress recently released the full author lineup for the National Book Festival, which takes place Saturday, August 24, 2024, in Washington, DC. Visit the 2024 National Book Festival website to learn more about this free event, where Ohio Center for the Book representatives will be in attendance to celebrate Ohio’s literary heritage and the 2024 Great Reads from Great Places selections.

In this episode:

Excerpts

Transcript

Guy Lamolinara (00:00):
Another person I shook hands with is Angela Lansbury and she said to me how lucky you are to work here, which I thought was such a great thing to say.

Laura Maylene Walter (00:12):
Welcome to Page Count, presented by the Ohio Center for the Book at Cleveland Public Library. This podcast celebrates authors, illustrators, librarians, booksellers, literary advocates and readers in and from the state of Ohio. I'm your host, Laura Maylene Walter, the Ohio Center for the Book Fellow and author of the novel BODY OF STARS. Today I'm co-hosting, along with Don Boozer, the manager of the literature department and the Ohio Center for the Book coordinator. Don, glad to have you back on the pod. Hello.

Don Boozer (00:44):
Glad to be back. Looking forward to this.

Laura Maylene Walter (00:46):
Today we're both going to interview a very special guest, Guy Lamolinara, the head of The Center for the Book at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. We're going to discuss the Center for the Book, the National Book Festival, memories of hometown libraries, and how exactly one goes from being an aspiring dentist to a journalist, to having a long career at the Library of Congress. Guy, welcome to the podcast. Thanks so much for being here.

Guy Lamolinara (01:11):
Thank you for having me. I'm very excited to talk to you.

Laura Maylene Walter (01:15):
Well, we're thrilled to have you. And you know, not only are you the head of the Center for the Book, which qualifies you to be on this podcast since we are one of the state affiliates, but it turns out that you are also no stranger to Ohio. So can you tell us about your Ohio connection and where you're from?

Guy Lamolinara (01:32):
Yes. I was born and raised in Ohio in a suburb of Cleveland on the west side. And I went to high school in Ohio and went to college at Ohio State in Columbus. So I've been in Ohioan, and lived in Ohio for quite a long time.

Laura Maylene Walter (01:50):
Well, we're proud that you're representing Ohio's literary heritage in that way by being the head of the Center for the Book.

Guy Lamolinara (01:56):
Thank you.

Laura Maylene Walter (01:57):
Let's talk about your career trajectory because I mentioned the dentist...dream, which I don't know if you want to get into that, but I find that so interesting. So you went to Ohio...OSU. Tell us about your plans for your career.

Guy Lamolinara (02:12):
Well, I had braces when I was in my early teens and I think I was very impressed by the orthodontist who worked on me. And you know, his career seemed so interesting and the fact that he was self-employed and he had no boss I thought was very tantalizing. So I started out at Ohio State thinking, oh, I'm going to be a dentist, in fact an orthodontist eventually. And I took all the chemistry, physics, and biology courses, but I also had been taking a lot of English literature courses and I found that I really, really did not enjoy any of the science classes that I took. And I really enjoyed the English Lit classes and I enjoyed, especially being able to write. Writing is something I love to do and I eventually realized that dentistry was really not a career path for me, that I needed to do something that would allow me to write.

Don Boozer (03:09):
Did you write whenever you were in high school or how did you find your pension for writing?

Guy Lamolinara (03:12):
Well, I did writing in high school in my English classes, but when I did the writing in college, I found that I really, really enjoyed it and once I got my BA I decided I did not want to go to dental school, that I really wanted a career in writing and that was why I went to Ohio State graduate school and got a Master's in Journalism

Laura Maylene Walter (03:34):
As a fellow English major. I love to hear someone abandoning the practicalities of a dental career to study writing and journalism. I'm not joking. I love it. <laugh>. Was it always journalism that you were drawn to or were you ever a fiction writer or a creative writer or a poet?

Guy Lamolinara (03:49):
I've never been a fiction or creative writer and I'm not, today I, I enjoy writing factual stories and I worked on the school newspaper at Ohio State and then when I graduated I moved to Kansas City, Missouri and there I worked on the paper for two years.

Don Boozer (04:07):
Now, I guess we should say that you can be creative when you write nonfiction too, so just throwing that out to everybody. So.

Guy Lamolinara (04:13):
That is true.

Laura Maylene Walter (04:14):
This is a podcast for Ohio's literary landscape and of course that includes journalism and I wish it included more journalism, if you know what I mean, but that's, that's the way things are changing. Yeah. So I find that so interesting because you are, you work at the Library of Congress, but you're actually, you never went to library school, is that right?

Guy Lamolinara (04:32):
That's correct. And I'm not a librarian really here at the library. I started here at the library in the Public Affairs office, which is now called the Office of Communications. And what drew me to the library was there was a job opening for the editor of the magazine. So I thought to myself, well that could be a great job because it's journalism even though it's, you know, in a government setting. And the current job I had in journalism here in Washington was one I really, really didn't like. So I applied for the job at the library and got it much to my surprise. But when I took the job, I never thought I would stay very long. I really thought I would miss the day-to-day, excitement of journalism and you know, daily deadlines, things like that. But obviously that wasn't true because 34 years later I'm still here.

Don Boozer (05:22):
I did notice on a recent blog post on the library of Congress's site that you mentioned the, the Army Times that you worked for as well.

Guy Lamolinara (05:29):
Yes.

Don Boozer (05:29):
Were you in the military or was that just a...

Guy Lamolinara (05:31):
No, I wasn't, that was just a job I happened to get and I worked on their newspapers there and they also had a magazine about marketing to people in the military and I worked on that magazine as well. I worked there for several years and then I went to the Congressional Quarterly and I worked on their weekly magazine there that came out every week and it was a very exciting place to work. I learned a lot about Congress while working there.

Don Boozer (05:56):
For good and for ill, I'm sure <laugh>.

Laura Maylene Walter (05:59):
We actually have that in common. I am not a librarian and I came to the library world, I'm a writer and I had worked as an editor of a trade magazine. So different, nothing flashy, but I was covering workplace safety, so covering a lot of government regulations. So to come to the library world where I did edit and write...The library had more of a magazine back then, which we don't have anymore. And yeah, I feel like I always have to correct people. They assume I'm a librarian and the factual, you know, journalist in me is like, no, I have to tell them I'm not a librarian and I have to be honest about it.

Guy Lamolinara (06:30):
Yes, I do that often. And one other thing I should mention to you was that while I was at Ohio State, I had a part-time job working in the library there, but while I was working there, never in a million years did I think my career would end up in library, much less the Library of Congress.

Laura Maylene Walter (06:46):
It was fated, perhaps. Yeah.

Guy Lamolinara (06:48):
I think it was.

Don Boozer (06:50):
You just went straight to the top then after that, so that's...

Guy Lamolinara (06:52):
The mecca, as they say.

Don Boozer (06:54):
<laugh> I like to refer to it as the mothership, myself. So...

Laura Maylene Walter (06:58):
So you've been there you said for 34 years. What can you tell us about what has changed maybe since you've been there? I know you have said that you were working at the Library of Congress when the internet became... You were at the forefront of working with the internet. Can you just tell us what that was like?

Guy Lamolinara (07:15):
It was such an exciting time. I was in the public affairs slash communications office at the time and I was still editor of the magazine and the Library of Congress, thanks to its former librarian, James Billington, we were already digitizing our materials and putting them on compact disc and distributing that way to libraries and schools across the country. So Dr. Billington really had this foresight that materials could be distributed electronically. And this was before the internet came about. And I think it was 1997, I don't recall exactly the year that the internet was introduced. And of course since the library already had so many materials digitized, we were really at the forefront at the time of putting materials online. And it afforded me the opportunity to get our name in so many publications and newspapers and on television because the media were fascinated with what we were doing and the fact that we were doing it before anyone else was.

Don Boozer (08:22):
Yeah, it's so interesting to even look at the morning shows and things where they talk about back when the internet started and they, they're referring to it as, you know, does anybody know what internet is? Do we know <laugh>? It's like, and to have the Library of Congress be in the forefront of that I think is just, it's very cool.

Guy Lamolinara (08:35):
It was.

Laura Maylene Walter (08:35):
Yeah, when everything was the "worldwide web" and the "net", you know.

Guy Lamolinara (08:39):
That's exactly right. And we still had to explain to people how to get online.

Laura Maylene Walter (08:44):
I wonder how things will change in another, you know, 34 years.

Guy Lamolinara (08:48):
I don't know.

Laura Maylene Walter (08:49):
I can't, I almost don't want to know. I don't want to imagine. Well let's talk about the Center for the Book since that is your role and that is why Don and I are here at all on this podcast. Since we are one of the affiliates. Maybe explain to our listeners who aren't familiar with the Center for the Book, what it is and what your role is.

Guy Lamolinara (09:07):
The Center for the Book is a network of 56 affiliated centers, the Ohio Center for the Book of course being one of them. But we have a center in every state: in the District of Columbia and in all the territories including the three Pacific Island territories. So we're everywhere that the United States is and we have this common mission as to promote books, reading libraries and literacy nationwide. And of course through these centers we're able to do that. And the centers also have a unique mission for each center and that's to promote their states or territories literary heritage. And what I mean by that is they promote authors from their state or territory. They promote books about their state or territory. Something that signifies, for example, Ohio in your case would be your literary heritage.

Don Boozer (10:00):
I think some people will hear Center for the Book and they think that they can go to the Library of Congress and say, you know, where's the Center for the Book? I wanna visit the center for the book. So it is literally a network.

Guy Lamolinara (10:09):
It's a state of mind. Yes.

Don Boozer (10:10):
There you go. <laugh>.

Guy Lamolinara (10:11):
Yes.

Laura Maylene Walter (10:12):
It's a state of mind.

Guy Lamolinara (10:12):
A state of mind rather than a physical place.

Don Boozer (10:14):
There you go. There you go. The Zen of the center for the book.

Laura Maylene Walter (10:17):
It's in our hearts.

Guy Lamolinara (10:19):
I'm talking to you from my office, which I guess is the Center for the Book.

Don Boozer (10:23):
There you go.

Laura Maylene Walter (10:24):
The real Center for the Book was the friends we made along the way. <laugh>.

Guy Lamolinara (10:28):
That's right.

Laura Maylene Walter (10:29):
Don, since you are the coordinator for the Center for the Book and I know you managed other departments within Cleveland Public Library before you moved to Literature, which is where we kind of house our Center for the Book. I'm just curious from your perspective to kind of take over it in this way, what was your experience with the Center for the Book maybe before that and how have you found it to be? I know you're pretty active with some of the other regions and some of the other states, so I'm just curious to hear your experience working with them.

Don Boozer (10:57):
I really like telling people that we're the home of the Ohio Center for the Book because it gives me the chance to say things like, you know, that we get to play with the Library of Congress in Washington DC and have worked with the National Book Festival and the Roadmap to Reading and all those sorts of things. And it really gives a sense of the network too. I have the honor of being part of the advisory council as well to represent our region. So I think that that gives me a nice broader perspective too and gets me a chance to work with the other coordinators in the area too and then take what we learn from our constituents back to the Library of Congress as well. So having that connection to the Library of Congress I think is just the coolest thing.

Laura Maylene Walter (11:32):
Yeah, and we're definitely all proud here at the library to host Ohio's one Center for the Book. And I know a lot of the other centers for the book, maybe we can talk about some of them, but they're often hosted at either state libraries, humanity centers. I think there's only a handful of public libraries like Cleveland Public.

Guy Lamolinara (11:50):
That's correct. And I'm really happy that Cleveland Public is the host because of course the Cleveland Library system was a system I used growing up and I visited Cleveland Public Library in my teens several times when my local library did not have the materials I needed for something I was working on. And if you've never been there, you must go because it's a gorgeous building. They have incredible materials and I was very fortunate that Don, about two weeks ago when I was in town, gave me and my colleagues a tour of the wonderful place there. You absolutely need to go to Cleveland Public Library.

Don Boozer (12:27):
Thanks for the plug. I appreciate that. We were really excited to be able to show off our collections and it was very gratifying for me and and the other staff members to have people from the Library of Congress ooh and awe over our collections and be able to talk to the staff. So it was a great experience and we really appreciate you taking the time to visit.

Guy Lamolinara (12:44):
We loved it. We really did.

Laura Maylene Walter (12:46):
Some of the pictures were posted on Instagram through the library and I had friends who live in different states who aren't connected to library work at all and they were, oh my goodness, The Library of Congress came to Cleveland Public Library?? They were so <laugh>. It was, fun. I was like, yes, yes. It's very impressive. Thank you.

Don Boozer (13:03):
Why yes, yes they did. As a matter of fact.

Guy Lamolinara (13:05):
I always think that's funny when we travel as representatives, the library people are so impressed that we work here.

Don Boozer (13:11):
You have to admit you have an amazing building that you work in.

Guy Lamolinara (13:14):
We do.

Don Boozer (13:14):
So, which building of the Library of Congress?

Guy Lamolinara (13:17):
I work in the Madison, which is the most modern of the three buildings. The building that everyone knows and that tours come to see is the Jefferson Building which opened in 1897 and it's a gloriously beautiful building.

Don Boozer (13:31):
Yeah, that main reading room is just absolutely amazing. I had the opportunity to stand behind the reference desk there on my very first ALA that I went to that was in Washington DC before I even graduated from library school there having the reception at the Library of Congress. And so I'm like okay, I could get used to this.

Guy Lamolinara (13:47):
<laugh>. Yeah, it's a beautiful place to work.

Laura Maylene Walter (13:49):
I lived in DC for one year right out of college right after school and I went and got my reading card from the Library of Congress and I went a few times but it never occurred to me at the time that I would one day end up working in the library world in Cleveland of all places and and be interviewing you today. So it's exciting. But I am curious about, so you did just come to Cleveland a few weeks ago, which is great and you said you had visited Cleveland Public Library as a teenager when you were growing up in Cleveland. Do you have any memories from that time from when you were younger visiting the library, anything you can recall or what was it like to come back more recently?

Guy Lamolinara (14:25):
I do have some vague memories going there and I remember entering that beautiful space where you enter in that globe of that's illuminated. I remember that. I remember talking to a librarian there, but I don't remember a lot. And of course, you know, visiting as a teenager, I did not get to see the entire building the way we did when Don gave us that tour. So many, many of those spaces you showed us were new to me.

Laura Maylene Walter (14:52):
Don, if you want to just mention some of the places you took everyone on the tour or Guy, if there's anything that stood out. This is not a test to see how much you remember what Don said, <laugh>.

Guy Lamolinara (15:01):
Some things that stood out to me was how the iconography of your building in so many ways is similar to the iconography we have here at the Jefferson building of the library. And of course I loved all the Superman memorabilia that you have. I thought that was so much fun. And of course I have to mention that you have the world's largest collection of chess sets, many of which are on display and there's even a chess set made up of salt and pepper shakers.

Don Boozer (15:30):
That's currently my favorite one, yeah.

Guy Lamolinara (15:31):
So that's one reason to visit the Cleveland Public Library

Laura Maylene Walter (15:34):
I love this by the way. Thank you. I feel like we have a lot of sound bites now for ads for the library, but <laugh> yeah, I promise I'm not trying to just promote our own library while we're talking to you.

Guy Lamolinara (15:43):
That's okay.

Laura Maylene Walter (15:44):
But maybe we should get into the National Book Festival, which is a huge Library of Congress initiative and the Center for the Book is involved. I actually read Guy, you had written a blog post a couple years ago, why is the National Book Festival actually national? So maybe for our listeners who haven't been or aren't familiar, tell us a little bit about the National Book Festival and then we definitely want to talk about Roadmap to Reading as well.

Guy Lamolinara (16:09):
Yes, the National Book Festival started in 2001, so this will be our 23rd year of having it. And it started out as a much smaller festival and it was on the National Mall and on the grounds of the Library of Congress, it was outdoors. Then as it grew we moved into tents. We were in big tents on the mall and we drew lots of people, you know, just people that weren't intending to go to the book festival but they were on the mall and so they attended some of our sessions but once the mall was renovated, the grass area we had to move, we could not set up those tents there anymore. And so we moved to the Washington Convention Center and I admit initially I thought it wasn't a very good idea, but I think I've come and so many people have come to really appreciate being in the center because it's a more comfortable place to be, especially if the weather is bad. We've had book festivals in the past where it was pouring rain or it was so hot that people could hardly stand to be outdoors. People really enjoy that. And another thing is people with disabilities can navigate the convention center much more easily than the National Mall. It's a much better experience for people and you can actually hear the authors much better than when they're outdoors.

Don Boozer (17:26):
One of the things I like about the National Book Festival too is you all have done a great job in recording a lot of the sessions too, so they're available to people, literally nationally now.

Guy Lamolinara (17:36):
That's exactly right. Virtually every one of the sessions we've had with authors has been recorded. And another thing that makes the National Book Festival national is not only that we have authors from all across the country, but it's another thing we have there called the Roadmap to Reading. And Don, I know you're very familiar with this because you've been part of it. And the roadmap to reading is an area in the convention center where every one of the Centers for the state has a table and they can talk about their state's literary heritage to the thousands of visitors who come and every year each center for the book names two books that quote unquote represent their state's literary heritage. One is for children, one is for adults. So those books are sold at the book festival and many times the centers will bring those authors to the festival and they can sign their books. And we have another activity for young people. There's a map we pass out to them and if they visit every table and collect a stamp from those tables, they get a prize at the end. So it's really a very family oriented activity and I can tell you adults like it as well because last year I did the stamp thing, which I had never done in the 23 years I'd been to the festival and it was a lot of fun.

Don Boozer (18:50):
I think it's always interesting to see what stamps, the different centers choose. My current favorite. I do like our ladybug and our cardinal in Ohio, but I still think the best one is the Red Slipper in Kansas.

Laura Maylene Walter (19:01):
Oh yeah, that's a good one. I wanted to ask both of you more about your experience of sitting at the table. I did, I went with Don and when was that? 2022. So I went once, but especially Guy of your first time doing it, I mean it's, it feels a little hectic. There's so many people who come through,

Guy Lamolinara (19:16):
It's extremely hectic. But I have to tell you, I'm lucky because I never actually sit at the tables. I just go around and make sure everything's working fine, but I don't have to sit there all day. It's quite hectic. I mean you're just stamping, stamping, stamping all day long and many of the tables have other people come with them or we'll have volunteers from the Junior League helping as well because it really is a very hectic day.

Don Boozer (19:41):
Yeah, the Junior League, they do a great job in providing help for the tables. I will admit that I didn't necessarily believe the veterans from the book festival that would talk about how the stamping was just, you know, nonstop. And I was like, oh it can't be that bad. And after having been a couple years like oh I get it <laugh>. Okay. Yeah, it really is.

Laura Maylene Walter (19:58):
And I feel like you can't have enough swag at your table to hand out. I mean anything from bookmarks to flyers, people want it all, which is interesting. Yeah.

Guy Lamolinara (20:07):
Yes, they do.

Laura Maylene Walter (20:08):
A pro tip for anyone going to the National Book Festival and going to Roadmap for Reading is get there early because some of the states like Vermont, I believe handed out cheese and it will go fast.

Guy Lamolinara (20:18):
That's exactly right. I think the cheese was probably the most unusual thing we've ever had passed out and certainly the most perishable. I think Ohio needs to bring a bucket of Buckeyes.

Laura Maylene Walter (20:30):
Yes.

Don Boozer (20:30):
Bucket of Buckeyes, yeah. What could possibly go wrong? <laugh>

Laura Maylene Walter (20:35):
<laugh>. Oh no, the peanut allergies all throughout the whole convention center. <laugh>.

Don Boozer (20:38):
Yeah, exactly.

Laura Maylene Walter (20:41):
Yeah. But that stuff goes fast. So, is there anything you want to tell us about this year's National Book Festival? Tell us when it is, are there any highlights you can share at this early stage? We're recording this listeners probably a few months before it airs, but what can you share with us?

Guy Lamolinara (20:56):
I can tell you the date of the festival, which is August 24th, a Saturday. I don't know a lot about it except I can tell you of course we'll have the Roadmap to Reading there. I don't have any names of authors yet that I can announce to you, but I know it's going to be a great affair like it is every year.

Laura Maylene Walter (21:13):
And it's really excellent for kids. And I actually have family in DC and the year I went, my little niece and nephew were able to come and they did the whole Roadmap to Reading and there's so many games and things for kids. So it's whether it's adults who want to hear all the panels or kids who just want to have fun, I think it's a fabulous event.

Guy Lamolinara (21:32):
And we have so many authors there for young people and of course they sign their books after their presentations. It's a way for the kids to meet their favorite authors, which they love.

Don Boozer (21:42):
And the authors really seem really giving of their time too. I, I've been impressed. I stood in line for John Scalzi as a matter of fact. He was just so gracious with the big long line and everything and the last signer of the day and it was really great to be able to have those sorts of interactions.

Guy Lamolinara (21:55):
Yes. In fact, I remember one year we had an author whose line was so long that it took three hours to get through it and he sat there for every single child that came and wanted his autograph.

Don Boozer (22:08):
That's great. It's nice when you can meet your heroes and they actually live up to your expectations.

Guy Lamolinara (22:12):
Yes. One year I got to meet Linda Ronstadt when she came to the book festival, which is something I'll never forget. I got to be her escort. So I actually got to spend the day with her and I'm a huge fan of her. So it was one of the highlights of my experiences here at the library.

Don Boozer (22:29):
Linda Ronstadt's escort, what, what could possibly be misconstrued from that? <laugh>.

Laura Maylene Walter (22:33):
<laugh> Don!

Don Boozer (22:35):
That actually brings us, I think Laura, you we wanted to ask Guy about some of the notable people that he has met in his career, if I remember correctly.

Laura Maylene Walter (22:41):
Yes. Let's give the people what they want. Celebrity gossip!

Guy Lamolinara (22:46):
Many of these people I didn't actually get to meet but I saw them.

Laura Maylene Walter (22:49):
Yeah.

Guy Lamolinara (22:49):
They were in events that we were having. For example, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip came to the library once. During that event Jane Fonda was there and her husband Ted Turner at the time. I've seen Mikhail Gorbachev, he came to the library...the Empress of Japan. One person I did get to meet was the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and that was a thrilling experience. She was just so warm and friendly and so gentile. She had white gloves on I remember, which I thought was very neat. And another person I shook hands with is Angela Lansbury. And she said to me, how lucky you are to work here. Which I thought was such a great thing to say.

Laura Maylene Walter (23:30):
That's amazing.

Don Boozer (23:31):
That's awesome. It is amazing. I think even the people that, that I've got to meet through the Center for the Book, the authors that I've gotten to interview, just because we have that affiliate status and I think that having that connection to the Library of Congress again, gives us the sort of an entrée into people that they at least, you know, take another look at our emails and things like that whenever we can mention that.

Guy Lamolinara (23:51):
Yes, that's true.

Laura Maylene Walter (23:52):
Is there anything you might want to mention or highlight some of the work that a few of the other Centers for the Book are doing? Because you know, here in Ohio we get so wrapped up with our little Ohio corner, but some of the centers I know have great things going on. So if anything comes to mind that you would want to highlight,

Guy Lamolinara (24:10):
Many of the centers are doing book festivals and they were inspired by our National Book Festival. So I'm really, really pleased about that. And a lot of the centers have book awards, which of course promotes their local authors, which I think is a great thing for them to do. A lot of them do walking tours, literary walking tours. And if you're in a city like New York City for example, it's a very easy thing to do because so many authors have lived there and they're in a confined space. So some centers do things like walking tours, some of them do nature tours based on books that authors have written. It really runs the gamut. It's, it's a very creative thing that they do. But it's all in the name of promoting books and reading.

Don Boozer (24:56):
We mentioned of course that you were able to visit us a couple weeks ago and I was curious, do you get a chance to visit very many of the Centers' home institutions?

Guy Lamolinara (25:04):
I have had a chance to visit quite a few of the states. I've even been to Alaska. I got to go to Alaska, not once but twice. One time when I went, it was on a tour that Tracy K. Smith, the poet laureate at the time was doing, she was bringing poetry to rural spaces and we took this trip to Alaska and we got to see things that tourists would never normally see. We went to tribal villages. In fact, I remember one time we got off the boat at this one village and the person standing there said, who are you? Because they knew immediately we were not from there. But it's been a very exciting thing and I've been to the Puerto Rico Center for the Book when they were established a few years ago. I've been to Hawaii, I've been to many, many places. South Dakota, Louisiana.

Don Boozer (25:53):
That is one of the things about the National Book Festival and the Roadmap to Reading that the Puerto Rico comes and the Northern Mariana Islands come. It really gives us who work in the Centers and sort of the outposts to see that we are actually part of a network too. Because that's one of the tangible places that you can see, you know, the other people that are involved in this endeavor.

Guy Lamolinara (26:12):
Yeah exactly. I think last year we had 54 of 56 centers and like you said Northern Mariana's was one of them and I'm so impressed that they would come because it's a very, very long trip for them.

Don Boozer (26:24):
I talked to one of their people that were there and they actually ended up having an Ohio connection and I still have their flag they were handing out hanging on my office door. So <laugh>.

Guy Lamolinara (26:33):
That's very cool.

Laura Maylene Walter (26:34):
Oh, maybe we should do something with them.

Don Boozer (26:35):
Yeah, yeah.

Laura Maylene Walter (26:36):
We're always interested in collaborating. And I don't know how much our listeners want to hear the behind the scenes that we have monthly Center for the Book meetings that Guy leads. But here on Page Count we did partner with the Wyoming Center for the Book and the Indiana Center for the Book for programs. And so we're open to doing more if other Center for the Book people are listening.

Guy Lamolinara (26:57):
I love hearing that because we really do encourage collaboration among the centers.

Laura Maylene Walter (27:02):
And the Center for the Book is part of the Educational Outreach division. Is that right? At the Library of Congress?

Guy Lamolinara (27:09):
That's right. It's formerly called Professional Learning and Outreach Initiatives.

Laura Maylene Walter (27:13):
And I guess I'm curious for listeners who have never been to the Library of Congress, do you have any fun facts about the Library of Congress or behind the scenes insights that they might be interested in if they do come and visit or just things they might not know about all the work the Library of Congress does?

Guy Lamolinara (27:30):
Well, they probably all know we're the largest library in the world. There's this misconception that we have every book ever published that is not true. We have millions and millions and millions of books. We have millions of so many other items like manuscripts. But we do not have every book ever published. But we have materials on virtually anything that any type of media. That information is recorded on maps, manuscripts, prints, photographs, legal materials. We have the papers of 23 presidents. We will soon be opening a treasures gallery here at the library, which will showcase some of the most important and fascinating things the library has. For example, many people come here and they want to see the pockets of Abraham Lincoln, what he had in his pockets the night he was assassinated and that's something we have here. We also have Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. We have the Gettysburg address, we have Martin Luther King's, "I have a dream" speech, we have the papers of the NAACP. I mean it just goes on and on.

Laura Maylene Walter (28:36):
So you have a few important things is what you're saying <laugh>.

Guy Lamolinara (28:38):
Yes. Just a few.

Laura Maylene Walter (28:39):
Don is just laughing over there.

Don Boozer (28:40):
Just a few. Just a few. Yeah. Oh my heavens, wow.

Guy Lamolinara (28:43):
I was very impressed with the things Cleveland Public Library had that you showed us.

Laura Maylene Walter (28:47):
Yeah, we do have a lot of great things here and we're, I think we're all very proud of it. And it is funny, I think Don, when you were giving the tour as proud as we are, it's like, oh, they are from the Library of Congress though. So you know, the one thing that could definitely show us up.

Don Boozer (29:01):
I thought one of the fun things was that the globe is the first mention of North America on a map and and everybody from the Library of Congress is like, oh yeah, we're familiar with that map.

Guy Lamolinara (29:10):
Yeah, we actually have it.

Don Boozer (29:12):
I was going to say.

Guy Lamolinara (29:13):
That's another thing you could come see on display. But I was very impressed that you have that photograph of Eliot Ness with Al Capone, the only known photograph.

Don Boozer (29:23):
I share that one with everybody. For those of you who haven't been to Cleveland Public Library, we had a researcher here doing research on Eliot Ness who was the safety director for the city for a number of years. And they were doing research in our photograph collection and found the only photograph they had ever seen of both Al Capone and Elliot Ness in the same photograph together. So that became the frontispiece of their book. So that's, that's a cool little anecdote we have from our photograph

Guy Lamolinara (29:46):
It is.

Laura Maylene Walter (29:47):
I'm always jealous of, I can't think off the top of my head which library or archives or university has it, but Sylvia Plath's braid in a box. I have to look it up and maybe I'll link to it in the show notes. But I guess that's the material I'm looking for is more hair from from famous authors <laugh>.

Don Boozer (30:05):
I will say that all of the digital collections too, I just gave a presentation to a group of high school students, honors English class the other day here at the library. And I was touting the digital collections at the Library of Congress. It is an absolutely amazing collection. So anybody who is interested at all in history and that sort of thing is the online home of the Library of Congress is a great site to explore as well in addition to the physical buildings in DC.

Guy Lamolinara (30:29):
That's true. You go down a rabbit hole once you get on our website.

Laura Maylene Walter (30:33):
Absolutely. The best kind, the best kind.

Don Boozer (30:34):
The best kind of rabbit hole.

Guy Lamolinara (30:35):
That's the best kind.

Laura Maylene Walter (30:36):
The library rabbit hole. Well, speaking of authors and you know Guy, your whole career is books. But when you're on your own time, what authors do you appreciate? What do you like to read these days? Tell us about your own literary habits.

Guy Lamolinara (30:52):
Most of the authors I read you might be surprised to know our dead authors. I really...it's, I really have an appreciation for older literature and William Faulkner is my favorite writer, I will tell you. And my feeling is that Toni Morrison, who of course was from Ohio, Lorraine Ohio, I think she was our last great literary genius here in America. So I really love reading her work as well. I love the Russian authors, the classic Russian authors. I do read some contemporary literature. It's not that I don't read it, but I always find that I get more out of some of the older classic novels.

Don Boozer (31:33):
Well, there's a reason they're classics, so.

Guy Lamolinara (31:35):
That's right. <laugh>

Don Boozer (31:37):
You may not have had a chance to hear it, but Laura did a nice audio tour of the Toni Morrison room at the Lorraine Public Library just a few episodes ago on page count. So that was an interesting little field trip that we had.

Guy Lamolinara (31:47):
I will definitely look that up.

Laura Maylene Walter (31:48):
It was really great. And Don and I will both go to the Thurber House in Columbus soon. So we're trying to take it on the road more and maybe sometime we can go to the Library of Congress, Don, so I'll put in that expense request today, <laugh> to make that happen. Don, do you have more questions that you wanted to ask? I know you might've had a hard hitting one about a fashion accessory, but I'll leave that to you.

Don Boozer (32:13):
<laugh> Well, those of you who may have met Guy know that he's known for wearing his hats and I was just wondering if you have an actual collection or I don't think it's the same one that we see all the time, so.

Guy Lamolinara (32:23):
No, no, it's not. I have hats for both warm weather and cold weather. I am currently about to transition to my straw hats, but I would say I probably have about 25 to 30 hats in total. And every time we have our monthly meetings, I try to wear a different hat.

Don Boozer (32:40):
And you always look very dapper too, I will say. So.

Guy Lamolinara (32:44):
Thank you. I'd put my hat on, but I realize this is a podcast, you wouldn't be able to see it anyway.

Laura Maylene Walter (32:49):
<laugh>,I'll be requesting a headshot of you if you have one in a hat, all the better.

Guy Lamolinara (32:53):
I have one in a hat. I absolutely do.

Laura Maylene Walter (32:55):
That's probably for the best so that we don't Photoshop one in there. So.

Guy Lamolinara (32:58):
Yes.

Don Boozer (32:59):
<laugh>. Exactly, exactly. Was it just something that you just had just picked up? How did you start? Because you know, hats are not one of those things, especially the fashionable ones that you wear are not necessarily like an everyday wear anymore. So I'm just curious, how did you start?

Guy Lamolinara (33:13):
I don't know how I started wearing hats. I'm not really sure. Before Covid, I used to come to work every day in a suit and tie. I don't do that anymore, but I was sort of known for that and I thought, well, I'll have a hat to go with it.

Don Boozer (33:26):
That's great.

Guy Lamolinara (33:26):
But I still wear the hats.

Laura Maylene Walter (33:28):
Well I think as we start to wrap up, I feel we often hear a lot of doom and gloom out there about the state of books, reading, and literacy. And I'm curious if there's anything in your work, Guy, that you would like to speak to, what you've learned by heading up the center for the book. Any thoughts on our current book landscape in this country and reading landscape and if you have any maybe bright spots for us to focus on?

Guy Lamolinara (33:54):
Well, I realize I can't represent all the state of literature, but <laugh> from my work here at the library, I'm so encouraged by the fact that we do have these Centers for the Book and the work they're doing is very much interesting to people all across the country. You know when you go to the National Book Festival and you see thousands of people coming with their kids, et cetera, and they're there because they love books. So I know that book reading is still a big thing in this country.

Don Boozer (34:24):
I will second that. Seeing the number of people that come to National Book Festival is just overwhelming, very encouraging. I completely agree.

Guy Lamolinara (34:30):
And it's not just our festival, it's all these festivals all across the country and it's author talks that you hear about all across the country. People are interested in books and authors and I think they always will be.

Don Boozer (34:42):
I think it's one of those things that we have to keep in mind too, that it's not necessarily the print paper book, eBooks, audiobooks...

Guy Lamolinara (34:48):
That's right.

Don Boozer (34:48):
All those sorts of things. They're still books. So people are still interested in stories and authors and writing and...

Guy Lamolinara (34:53):
Comic books like Superman!

Don Boozer (34:55):
There you go. Exactly, exactly.

Laura Maylene Walter (34:57):
I love that we started with Superman and brought it right back.

Guy Lamolinara (35:00):
Yes <laugh>.

Laura Maylene Walter (35:01):
Well, I think that is a fantastic note to end on. So Don, thanks for co-hosting with me. And Guy, thank you so much for joining us. We really enjoyed chatting with you today.

Guy Lamolinara (35:10):
Thank you both so much. It was such a pleasure talking to you. It really was.

Laura Maylene Walter (35:21):
Page Count is presented by the Ohio Center for the Book at Cleveland Public Library. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate, and leave a review for Page Count wherever you get your podcast. Learn more online or find a transcript of this episode at ohiocenterforthebook.org, follow us on Instagram @ohiocenterforthebook or find us on Facebook. If you'd like to get in touch, email ohiocenterforthe book@cpl.org and put 'podcast' in the subject line. Thanks for listening and we'll be back in two weeks for another chapter of Page Count.

Guy Lamolinara (35:57):
You covered pretty much everything, including my hats.

Laura Maylene Walter (36:00):
<laugh>

Guy Lamolinara (36:02):
I wasn't expecting that one.

Laura Maylene Walter (36:03):
We had to get that one in there <laugh>.

Don Boozer (36:05):
That was all me. I will take responsibility for that one.

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