Scholar Kevin Starr discusses

Elizabeth Dreazen
ALA Governance Office
For Immediate Release
May 2, 2006

Scholar Kevin Starr discusses 'Reading: The Essential Skill' at President's Program

(CHICAGO) Noted scholar and librarian Kevin Starr will discuss the enduring importance of reading and literacy at the American Library Association (ALA) President's Program June 25, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Morial Convention Center Auditorium. The program is part of the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, June 22-28.

Dr. Starr is a self-described evangelist for the central importance of reading and literacy to society and the life of the mind.
The author of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, he has written 10 books, seven of which are part of his Americans and the California Dream series.
His writing has won him a Guggenheim Fellowship, membership in the Society of American Historians, and the Gold Medal of the Commonwealth Club of California. Dr. Starr also is a university professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

A First Look at the Literacy of America's Adults in the 21st Century (December 2005), published by the National Center for Education Statistics, found that 30 million adults in America lack basic literacy skills, including seven million who are considered to be illiterate.
Other studies paint an even more dire picture.

"Reading-specifically the ability to interact with complex texts-is the skill that is indispensable to the life of the mind," Gorman said. "We are dealing with a society in which literacy is undervalued and decreasing yet is more important than ever.
This program will reinforce the importance of true literacy and stress the joys of lifelong reading."

Dr. Starr was the seventh state librarian of California since the beginning of the 20th century, a position from which he retired in 2004.
He has served as Allston Burr Senior Tutor in Eliot House at Harvard; executive assistant to the Mayor of San Francisco; City Librarian of San Francisco; and a daily columnist for the San Francisco Examiner.

About 20,000 librarians, library workers, authors and guests are expected to attend the world's largest library gathering. For more information on the ALA Annual Conference, please visit