PHILADELPHIA, January 14, 2008 - Put Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, in your calendars for the second Philadelphia Book Festival. Linda E. Johnson, CEO of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, today announced the dates, and a major grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to ensure this new tradition becomes an annual event in Philadelphia. “The second annual Philadelphia Book Festival will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 17th and 18th, in and around the Central Library on the Parkway,” said Ms. Johnson. “Our lead sponsor for the first Book Festival, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, just awarded the Library a three-year grant to continue and grow the Philadelphia Book Festival for years to come. Knight Foundation’s $450,000 grant is a significant investment in the Library and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, ensuring that booklovers from the Greater Philadelphia Region and beyond can continue to come together to celebrate reading, literacy, and other forms of creative expression. The Free Library is extremely grateful for Knight Foundation’s generous support and commitment.”
“The Philadelphia Book Festival was so successful from the start that we wanted to ensure it became an enduring, thriving event. The continued evolution of the Parkway into a signature cultural campus for the region is part of Knight Foundation’s focus on helping transform communities. The Book Festival is exactly the type of programming that makes the Parkway come alive,” said Matt Bergheiser, Philadelphia Program Director for the Knight Foundation.
In its inaugural year in 2007, the Philadelphia Book Festival enlivened the Parkway with a diverse array of popular musicians, such as Harry and the Potters and Patti Smith; a Children’s Stage that offered continuous performances from storytellers, magicians, and children’s authors; as well as more than 70 vendors that included the best of local, regional and national publishers, booksellers, and nonprofit literary organizations. More than 100 authors gave talks or participated in panel discussions, then answered questions from their audiences, including bestselling authors Mary Higgins Clark, Lee and Bob Woodruff, Philadelphia best-selling author and Library Board member Jennifer Weiner, and Terry McMillan. The family-friendly event drew 25,000 attendees in its first year!
In 2008, featured author events and performances will again be held in venues both inside and outside the Central Library. A Literary Street Fair of exhibitors will fill 19th, 20th, and Vine Streets around the Central Library on the Parkway, and will include local and national publishers, small presses, local independent bookstores, nonprofit literary organizations, technology exhibitors, and independent authors. Authors already confirmed for the 2008 festival include Gregory Maguire, who wrote the book Wicked, on which the highly successful Broadway production is based; bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey, whose upcoming book is Pleasure; and Ana Castillo, the award-winning novelist whose latest book is The Guardians.
The three-year grant from the Knight Foundation will support increased programs and outreach for the festival, including the addition of a Gaming Gallery that will host competitions of popular video games, such as Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero.
To date, other sponsors returning to the Philadelphia Book Festival include Citibank, the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce, Target, 6abc, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than six million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of Philadelphia and 25 other U.S. communities. Knight Foundation focuses on ideas and projects that create transformational change. For more information, contact Marc Fest, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, at (305) 908-2677.