LIBRARIES ARE ESSENTIAL

MAY 23, 2023

With the third annual Libraries Are Essential program, the U.S. Book Show once again acknowledges a simple fact: America’s libraries are more than just a key marketplace for publishers and authors, they are bedrock institutions, anchors in our communities, vital to the health of our democracy and society, and crucial to our reading and literary cultures.

Moderated by PW Senior Writer Andrew Richard Albanese, the 2023 Libraries Are Essential program will focus on two key issues facing the library community. The morning session will explore how librarians and freedom-to-read advocates can defeat this unprecedented assault on the freedom to read currently surging across the nation. And the afternoon session will look at what’s next for digital resources in public libraries as the pandemic gives way and a new normal begins to settle in.

The program will close with a keynote panel discussion about the central role young people will play in dismantling racism and injustice, featuring bestselling authors Ibram X. Kendi and Nic Stone, co-authors of How to Be a (Young) Antiracist, in conversation with Nicole A. Cooke, Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina.

MORNING SESSION

Book Banning in America: What’s Driving the Nationwide Surge in Book Bans—and How Freedom-to-Read Advocates Can Win

The unprecedented, politically motivated surge in book bans and attacks on the freedom to read continues to reach alarming new heights in communities across the nation. In this frank discussion, a group of politically savvy public advocates will explore how libraries and library supporters can push back—and win.

John Chrastka
John Chrastka

John Chrastka is the Founder and Executive Director of EveryLibrary, the first and only national political action committee for libraries. The organization works every election season to support dozens of local ballot initiatives across the country—and to support libraries in their defense of the freedom to read.

Kelly Jensen
Kelly Jensen

Kelly Jensen is a writer and editor for Book Riot. A former librarian, she has become one of the nation’s foremost chroniclers of the current wave of book bans and legislation threatening the freedom to read. Her weekly book censorship news column for Book Riot is a must-read.

Amanda Jones
Amanda Jones

Amanda Jones is a veteran educator and school librarian and the 2021 School Library Journal Co-Librarian of the Year. Since she spoke up in defense of the freedom to read at her local library in 2022—and was subsequently attacked on social media—she has become one of the country’s most outspoken and effective defenders of the librarians and teachers standing up for the freedom to read.

Emily Knox
Emily Knox

Emily Knox is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, author of the acclaimed Book Banning in 21st Century America, and board president at the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Andrew Richard Albanese
MODERATOR
Andrew Richard Albanese

PW senior writer Andrew Richard Albanese leads the magazine’s library coverage. Albanese has covered the publishing and information technology fields for more than 22 years and is a former associate editor of American history at Oxford University Press, a former editor at Library Journal, and author of The Battle of $9.99: How Apple, Amazon and the Big Six Publishers Changed the E-book Business Overnight.

AFTERNOON SESSION

Digital Trends: Three Years After the Pandemic Shutdowns Began, What Does the New Normal Look Like for Public Libraries?

When Covid-19 force the nation into lockdown three years ago, digital library resources hit stratospheric new levels—and so, too, did book sales. With the pandemic now over, what did we learn about library usage? What new pressures are libraries grappling with as we get back to some sense of “normal?” And is the library e-book market slipping back into a familiar, contentious place? This panel will bring together three leading digital directors to discuss what we learned about libraries during the pandemic and where things still need to go.

Edward Melton
Edward Melton

Edward Melton is Executive Director of the Harris County Public Library, where he oversees 26 branch libraries serving nearly two million residents. In 2022, Harris County had the fourth most digital checkouts in the nation via OverDrive.

Ellen Paul
Ellen Paul

Ellen Paul is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Library Consortium, a non-profit membership group serving over 950 academic, public, school and special libraries across the State.

Lisa Rosenblum
Lisa Rosenblum

Lisa Rosenblum is director of the King County Library System (WA), one of the busiest library systems in the country. KCLS consistently ranks as one of the nation’s leaders in digital circulations and in 2022 had the second most digital checkouts in the nation via OverDrive.

Moderated by: Andrew Richard Albanese

CLOSING KEYNOTE

Ibram X. Kendi and Nic Stone, in conversation with Nicole A. Cooke

Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi

Ibram X. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University and the Founding Director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is the author of many highly acclaimed books, including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, as well as five straight #1 New York Times bestsellers, including How to Be an Antiracist, Antiracist Baby, and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored by Jason Reynolds. In 2021 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as the Genius Grant.

Photo credit: Janice Checchio
Nic Stone
Nic Stone

Nic Stone is an Atlanta native, a Spelman College graduate, and the author of several bestselling books including her debut YA novel, Dear Martin, and her first middle-grade novel, Clean Getaway. She is also the author of Odd One Out, which was an NPR Best Book of the Year and a Rainbow Book List Top Ten selection; Jackpot; Shuri: A Black Panther Novel; and Dear Justyce, the sequel to Dear Martin.

Nicole A. Cooke
MODERATOR
Nicole A. Cooke

Nicole A. Cooke is the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina. Cooke was awarded the ALA’s Equality award in 2016, and she was the 2019 ALISE Excellence in Teaching Award recipient. She has edited and authored several books, including Information Services to Diverse Populations and Fake News and Alternative Facts: Information Literacy in a Post-Truth Era.

U.S. BOOK SHOW 2025

Coming May 2025. Details to follow.

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