PW’s 2022 U.S. Book Show To Open with Full-Day Library Track

Publishers Weekly’s second U.S. Book Show, held virtually May 23–26, will lead off with an all-day track on May 24 specifically for librarians. The Libraries Are Essential program will include a roster of library leaders, educators, and advocates, as well as representatives from the American Library Association (ALA) and PEN America, examining issues currently at the forefront of library work.

U.S. Book Show - PW logoDrawing on the success of its inaugural event, Publishers Weekly’s second U.S. Book Show (USBS) will be held virtually May 23–26. The conference was launched in 2021 to continue the conversation begun by the longstanding BookExpo trade show, which was retired by ReedPop in 2021 after being canceled in 2020 owing to the pandemic. The USBS will feature panels of industry experts, publishing professionals, booksellers, and authors examining a range of issues specific to publishing and bookselling.

The event will also lead off, as it did last year, with an all-day track on May 24 specifically for librarians. The Libraries Are Essential program will include a roster of library leaders, educators, and advocates, as well as representatives from the American Library Association (ALA) and PEN America, examining issues currently at the forefront of library work, such as the rise of book challenges and new legislation targeting collections, policies, and governance. The all-access registration is free for all library workers; more than 2,000 have signed up at press time.

While PW largely serves bookselling and publishing communities, libraries are a critical part of that equation, Andrew Richard Albanese, PW senior writer and features editor and organizer of the Libraries Are Essential program, told LJ. “What we wanted to do with this was touch broadly on some of the hot-button issues that are facing the library community.”

The program will kick off with an introduction from Albanese and program cohost Sari Feldman, former executive director of Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH, and a contributing editor and columnist for PW.

Three prominent LIS instructors—Nicole Cooke, Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and associate professor at the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina; Renate Chancellor, chair and associate professor in the Department of Library and Information Science at the Catholic University of America; and Yasmeen Shorish, associate professor with the James Madison University Libraries—will lead a panel discussing—and debunking—the hotly disputed concept of library neutrality.

John Chrastka, founder and executive director of EveryLibrary will lead a panel on the increased politicization of libraries through book bans and changes to state oversight legislation. R. David Lankes, Virginia & Charles Bowden Professor of Librarianship at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Information, will discuss his most recent book, Forged in War: How a Century of War Created Today’s Information Society (Rowman & Littlefield).

Over lunch, OverDrive President and CEO Steve Potash will share data on library ebook use, and Portland State University, OR, researchers Kathi Berens and Rachel Noorda, will present their research on Generation Z and its digital habits.

The afternoon block includes a look at e-content and digital equity with Michael Blackwell, director of the St. Mary’s County Library, MD, and an organizer of the ReadersFirst coalition; Carmi Parker, ILS administrator at Whatcom County Library System, WA, and committee member for the Washington Digital Library Consortium; and Kelvin Watson, executive director of the Las Vegas–Clark County Library District, NV, and cochair of ALA’s Digital Working Group with guest Jennie Rose Halperin, executive director of Library Futures.

Califa Assistant Director Veronda J. Pitchford; Andrea Lemoins, outreach coordinator for the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) and founder of Concerned Black Workers of FLP; and Christian Zabriskie, executive director of the Onondaga County, NY, Library System and founder and executive director of nonprofit advocacy group Urban Libraries Unite, will talk about the challenges library workers continue to face. Feldman will moderate a panel on the continuing challenges to leadership with Lankes; Stephanie Chase, executive director of Libraries of Eastern Oregon; and Roosevelt Weeks, director of Austin Public Library, TX.

The closing keynote will be delivered by U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin (MD-08). Raskin is a tenacious advocate for libraries; as chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, he held a hearing on April 7 on the widespread efforts to ban books from schools and public libraries. He is the author of Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy (Harper), about the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“Democratic societies, movements and peoples are fighting back to defend the freedom to read and write, the freedom to seek and speak the truth against lies and disinformation, and the sovereign rights of democratic self-government against violence,” said Raskin in a statement. “Libraries and books have never been more essential—or more controversial—in our lifetimes, and writers and illustrators have a critical role to play in upholding everything precious in our civilization.”

The USBS website also hosts a synchronous chat, so viewers can interact. “We really wanted people to be able to have a running dialogue,” Albanese told LJ. Last year, “that was the most rewarding thing, watching people listen to the speakers, and then use the speakers’ points to start their own discussions.”

Show content will be available on demand for registrants on the USBS website and later on PW’s YouTube channel.

“Libraries are not just a marketplace. Libraries are vital institutions that support our democracy and literacy,” said Albanese. “We wanted to hit some of the issues that we felt publishers and librarians and readers, everybody, needs to stand up and support.”

You can register for the USBS here.

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Lisa Peet

Lisa Peet is Executive Editor for Library Journal.

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