Hats Off to the Festival of Books at USC

Festival of books“All of you here this morning should take great pride in the fact that we are part of the largest public literary festival in America.”

With those words, USC president C. L. Max Nikias kicked off the 17th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on April 21. In its second year at USC, the festival attracted a record-breaking 151,000 guests to the University Park campus, an 8 percent increase over last year’s attendance according to the Times.

Joining Nikias on the USC Stage – one of eight outdoor festival venues providing continuous entertainment during the two-day festival – were Times publisher and CEO Eddy Hartenstein and president Kathy Thomson.

The president noted a “special historical connection” between the university and the newspaper.

“USC and the L.A. Times are the two oldest surviving nonreligious institutions in the city of Los Angeles,” Nikias said. “Our university was established in 1880, while the first issue of the L.A. Times rolled off the presses in 1881. Since that time, we have worked to advance the city and to promote a love of learning.”

More than 400 authors gave readings and appeared on panels in 14 different auditoriums and signed their books at seven signing areas. The stages featured various events, including a presentation of the fotonovela, “Rosa out of Control,” the latest in a series of bilingual health materials created by a team under the direction of School of Pharmacy Professer Mel Baron. The story deals with obesity among both children and adults.

Another new feature of this year’s festival was the USC Health Pavilion. Organized by practitioners from the USC School of Pharmacy, Keck Medical Center of USC, and USC divisions of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, and Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, the pavilion proved to be a popular attraction.

“Some of the health fairs we don’t see as many participants, but today it’s been really great,” said first-year USC pharmacy student Tamara Chinarian, who was working one of a handful of diabetes screening stations in the pavilion.

Nearby, her classmates took blood pressure readings and staffed a “brown-bagging event,” reviewing patients’ various medications for possible drug interactions. Marta Correa, who lives in the University Park neighborhood, had just gotten her blood pressure checked.

“I just want to know if I’m healthy,” Correa said, standing beside her two young daughters. “I recently changed my diet. It’s always good to know.”

School of Pharmacy students and faculty conducted hundreds of test at the Festival and also provided educational information on travel health, women’s health and other topics. For children, the School of Pharmacy provided crafts and information about poison prevention.

Bonny Chan and Saleema Kapadia led the student effort for the School of Pharmacy, under the direction of Professors Cynthia Lieu and Jeffery Goad.