End Notes: C-SPAN’s LambDonates 801 Books to GMUAs Postscript to ‘Booknotes’

C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb built quite a
company library from the books in C-SPAN’s Booknotes series,
but the public-affairs net will get to reclaim that shelf space.

Lamb hosted the series for 16 years, interviewing the authors
of nonfiction works for the weekly series.

C-SPAN last week donated the books — all 801 of them —
as well as associated materials, to George Mason University.
In addition, the C-SPAN Education Foundation gave the
school $25,000 to catalog and preserve the collection, which
will also include notes, letters and correspondence with authors,
reviews of the books, and online versions of each of the
Booknotes episodes (the series ran from 1988 through 2004).

The books — Lamb told The Wire he in fact read all 801
of them — also contain marginalia and notes he used in
his interviews with the authors, which included everyone
from Hillary Clinton and Richard Nixon to David Crosby
and Ann Coulter.

Why did he stop doing the show? We have it on good authority
that having to read a large nonfiction book per week
and prepare notes on it and conduct the interview and run
a major network may be a labor of love, but is a labor nonetheless.
Lamb still conducts a weekly interview show, which
includes some authors, so he is still reading big books, just
not at the same lexicographic grind.

The better question might be how he did it for a decade
and a half.

Lamb visited GMU’s Fairfax County, Va., campus last
week to make the formal presentation and teach a master
class on the art of the interview.

Earlier, as Lamb and company were packing up the library
at C-SPAN headquarters in Washington, a “bookends”
photo was taken for posterity. From left, GMU university
librarian John Zenelis holds A Bright Shining Lie, by Neil
Sheehan, who was the first guest on Booknotes on Oct.
17, 1988; Lamb; and GMU president Alan Merten, holding
Why Read? by Mark Edmundson, who was on the final
Booknotes (Dec. 5, 2004).

Cable ISPs Will Fund
Family-Focused Study
Of Kids’ Web Habits

When the Family Online Safety Institute released
a survey on use of online parental controls
a couple of weeks ago, The Wire noted
that it was funded by only four of the members,
and none of them from the cable side.

That got us to wondering why members
including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and
the National Cable & Telecommunications Association
sat this one out — given the importance
of online control and privacy issues to
the nation’s top Internet service providers.

Turns out they weren’t asked.

But not to worry: they have their own study
in the works.

According to FOSI CEO Stephen Balkam,
the institute will be issuing a cable-funded
study in early November looking at how kids’
attitudes toward the net under the umbrella of
“digital citizenship,” which covers among other
things, safety, privacy, reputation, bullying and

As for the earlier study, FOSI said member
Verizon broached the idea, and by the time
AT&T, Microsoft and Google had been tapped,
there was enough money in hand “so we
stopped asking.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.