American Library Association, Baseball Hall of Fame kick off “Step Up to the Plate @ your library®”

Contact: Deborah Bloom
Campaign Manager
dbloom@ala.org
For Immediate Release
April 28, 2006

American Library Association, Baseball Hall of Fame kick off
"Step Up to the Plate @ your library®"

National program uses baseball to improve literacy skills

St. Louis – The American Library Association (ALA) and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum today officially launched an initiative entitled, Step Up to the Plate @ your library®. The national program, which was unveiled at the St. Louis Public Library and Busch Stadium, is designed to encourage fans of all ages to test their knowledge of baseball trivia while improving their literacy skills.

Ozzie Smith, education ambassador for the Hall of Fame and Hall of Fame shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres, helped kick off the Step Up to the Plate program as its new spokesperson.

At an afternoon library event, Smith led a group of 100 middle school students through a series of challenging baseball trivia questions developed by librarians at the Hall of Fame. Students who answered the questions correctly received posters from ALA Graphics, Hall of Fame Yearbooks and baseball titles published by Harcourt Children’s Books. Later in the evening, Smith, ALA and Hall of Fame representatives were recognized on field during a pre-game ceremony promoting the new program.

"I’ve been very lucky to live out the American dream as a baseball player," says Smith, who is also lending his image to the program for print and broadcast PSAs. "Libraries are part of that dream. They’re places for education, self-help and lifelong learning and provide opportunities for everyone to step up and succeed."

Step Up to the Plate @ your library® encourages people of all ages to visit their library and use its resources to look up the answers to a series of baseball trivia questions designed for their age group (10 and under, 11-13, 14-17 and 18 and over). Through answering the questions, people can improve their literacy skills, which today include not only reading but also how find, use and evaluate sources of information in various formats.

One grand-prize winner will win a trip for two in October to the Hall of Fame’s World Series Game One Gala event in Cooperstown, N.Y., including a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum. The grand-prize winner also will receive an Ozzie Smith autographed baseball.

Twenty first-place prize packages will be awarded as well, including a commemorative hardbound copy of the Hall of Fame Yearbook, Hall of Fame t-shirt, commemorative set of 20 Hall of Fame baseball cards and more.

"To be successful in today’s information society, it’s not enough just to be able to read," says ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. "Consumers need to be able to find the information they are looking for – whether it’s in print or online -- and understand the source of information and whether it’s credible. That’s where libraries and librarians come into play."

Players are invited to visit their library or check out www.ala.org/baseball to download the trivia questions. They can also play the game online. Questions, available in both English and Spanish, address five topic areas: women in baseball; African-Americans in baseball; Hispanics in baseball; Major League Baseball; and ballparks. The program runs through September 1.

"To be a part of the Step Up to the Plate @ your library® initiative is a wonderful extension of our education mission," adds Dale Petroskey, president, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "The collaboration of such an historic museum with an organization of the ALA's distinction will encourage a love of libraries and baseball as two of our greatest national pastimes."

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is a not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of the game and its impact on our culture by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience, as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to our National Pastime.

Step Up to the Plate @ your library® is part of The Campaign for America's Libraries, ALA’s national, multi-year public awareness and advocacy campaign about the value of libraries and librarians in the 21st century.

The program is supported by the American Association of School Librarians, Association for Library Service to Children and Public Library Association, divisions of the ALA; the Black Caucus of the American Library Association; REFORMA, the Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, an affiliate of the ALA; and the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum.