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California Center for the Book has new director

Mary Menzel is the new director of the California Center for the Book (CFB), which has its offices on the UCLA campus. 

The CFB is affiliated with the Library of Congress, and it is supported with a Library Services and Technology Act grant administered by the California State Library.  The CFB sponsors and promotes book and reading-group programs in libraries throughout the state, including the popular “Women of Mystery” program. 

California Center for the Book director Mary Menzel and State Librarian Susan Hildreth in State Librarian's office March 2006.

Menzel is the current president of the UCLA School of Library and Information Studies Alumni Association.  She earned her MLIS degree at UCLA in 2003.  She also holds a BA degree from Stanford University, where she majored in creative writing and poetry. 

Menzel’s library career began at an elementary school in Los Angeles , where she worked as a volunteer before enrolling at UCLA to earn her library degree.  A native of northern California, she has resided in New York City and London, UK . 

Menzel says that as director of the CFB her principal goal will be to put a wide variety of reading-promotion tools into the hands of librarians throughout California. These tools include the popular “book club in a box” programs, author visits, and guidelines on “one city, one book” programs.

“I want book groups to reach out to different populations, especially young adults and people with limited English,” she says.  Menzel also says that she would like to place more CFB programs in rural libraries and those in small towns throughout the state. 

An example of a CFB offering is a current program that makes it possible for libraries to sponsor book groups featuring graphic novels.  Participating libraries receive ten copies each of ten different graphic novels, along with fliers, posters, and an essay on the history of the graphic novel, all of which make it easy for librarians to initiate a book group that appeals to teens.  “We’ll even pay the postage when you return the books to us,” she added.   A similar program featuring mystery novels by female authors, “Women of Mystery,” has proved extremely popular at public libraries in every region of California . 

The CFB is also the California coordinator of the annual Letters About Literature program, a national competition that invites schoolchildren to write letters to the authors of their favorite books.  This year over 4,000 California students participated.

Menzel began work at the CFB late in March, and in May she flew back to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. to meet with directors of other Centers for the Book from various states. 

For more information about the California Center for the Book contact Mary Menzel, director, at (310) 206-2464 or email






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