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More Than Ever, a Truly National Book Festival

This post is by Lee Ann Potter, director of Professional Learning and Outreach Initiatives at the Library of Congress.

In an earlier post announcing the complete schedule for this year’s National Book Festival, we described the many ways this year’s festival is expanding its reach through podcasts, virtual live events and a one-hour television special on PBS. In that post, we also encouraged you to check out the new “Festival Near You” section of the festival website, including the interactive map!

It is really something to explore! This section of the site highlights associated festival events that local organizations and affiliate Centers for the Book are planning across the country — and we are very excited about them! Watch parties, book club gatherings, art and writing workshops, story walks and community conversations are happening from Washington to Florida, from Massachusetts to Louisiana, and in many states in between!

Events are happening in local libraries, on college campuses, outdoors and online. Some are virtual, some are hybrid and some are in person. Some events are especially for children, others for teens, some for adults, and still others are for all audiences. And each event is, in some way, incorporating one or more of the National Book Festival’s videos on demand or live events.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Washington: The Everett Public Library in Everett, Washington, is hosting art and writing workshops inspired by National Book Festival conversations with Angie Thomas, Trung Le Nguyen and Tahereh Mafi.
  • Colorado: The Trinidad Carnegie Public Library in Trinidad, Colorado, is hosting six different watch parties — four in person and two virtually.
  • Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Center for the Book, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and libraries across the Commonwealth are hosting a state-wide virtual watch party and conversation for Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” (Random House)

Part of the joy in hearing about these “Festival Near You” events is imagining the Library of Congress — our national library — in all of these places, just as all of these places are somewhere in our national library’s collections!

As local organizations submitted information about their various events for inclusion on the National Book Festival website, we explored the Library’s online collections to see what might be in our collections related to the participating communities. Unsurprisingly, we found something related to every place! Among our discoveries: Sanborn Fire Insurance maps published in 1893 of Everett, Washington; a photograph of the Trinidad Carnegie Public Library; and a 1915 print showing the locations of all the public libraries in Massachusetts.

What fun!

Join us for the 2021 National Book Festival, Sept. 17-26. Audiences are invited to create their own festival experience this year, with programs in a range of formats. Subscribe to this blog for future updates on the festival, and visit the festival website.


  1. Gretchen Weaver
    September 14, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    Can you publish Events in the West Michigan Area? This would be great to link up with “Reading Month.”

    • Anne Holmes
      September 15, 2021 at 3:06 pm

      Thanks for your question, Gretchen. The schedule has been finalized, and events included as part of the “Festival Near You” must be related to National Book Festival programming.

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