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Public Information and Communication

For Release On or After:
April 12, 1999

Lisa Kelly, 402-471-4015, 800-307-2665

Dee Yost, 402-462-1975, 800-569-4961

Letters about Literature Winners for 1999 Announced and National Library Week Proclaimed

National Library Week is a perfect time to think about the importance of literature in our lives. The Nebraska Library Association and the Nebraska Center for the Book are co-sponsors of Letters about Literature essay contest. This year's National Library Week celebrates the freedom to "Read! Learn! Connect! @ the Library." Nebraska readers and libraries will be celebrating in many different ways. On Monday, March 29, representatives from the Nebraska Library Association, the Nebraska Center for the Book, and the essay contest winners witnessed Governor Johanns as he signed the proclamation to declare National Library Week as April 11-17 in Nebraska.

The 1999 "Letters About Literature" essay contest winners for Nebraska have been selected. They are Kristina Wright-Peterson for her letter to Willa Cather and Jamie Hamburg for her letter to Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air. Kristina Wright-Peterson is in the seventh grade at Irving Middle School in Lincoln and the winner in the Level I category for students in Grades 4-7. Jamie Hamburg is a Freshman at Burke High School in Omaha and is the winner in the Level II category for students in Grades 8-12. Each state winner will receive $100 from the Library of Congress Center for the Book and will be entered in the national "Letters About Literature" competition with the prize of a $1,000 savings bond.

Two second place winners were also selected. Ashley Johnson, a seventh grader from Albion won for her letter to Jane Yolen, author of The Devil's Arithmetic. Katie Bolton, a Sophomore from Columbus was selected for her letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson, the author of the essay, "Self-Reliance." They will receive $50 awards from Houchen Bindery Ltd. of Utica.

"Letters About Literature" is a national essay contest sponsored by the Library of Congress Center for the Book and the Weekly Reader Corporation. The Nebraska contest is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book that is hosted by the Nebraska Library Commission. This is the first year the contest has been made available at the state level in Nebraska. Students from fourth through twelfth grades wrote letters to an author, living or dead, describing how that person's work changed the student's way of thinking. This year there were more than 15,500 entries in the contest. Students from Nebraska submitted 493 entries. Letters were received from 27 Nebraska communities, including Albion, Arnold, Bellevue, Brainard, Columbus, David City, Dunbar, Fairbury, Fairfield, Fairmont, Hastings, Lincoln, McCook, Mullen, Nebraska City, Norfolk, North Bend, North Platte, Omaha, Seward, Sidney, South Sioux City, Superior, Valentine, Valparaiso, Wakefield, and Westerville.

Judges for the Nebraska competition were Mel Krutz, Marly Swick, Fran Reinehr and Mary Ann Satterfield. Judges and winners will receive a complimentary membership to the Nebraska Center for the Book and a book bag filled with treats for book lovers.


As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information. The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Home Page. Point your World Wide Web browser to

For more information, contact Tessa Terry.