Conservation of an 1852 map of Madison, Indiana

This 1852 map of the city of Madison is the earliest map of the old river city held in the Indiana State Library’s collections. The detail is brilliant, done by the careful hand of Hoosier pioneer William C. Bramwell. It seems clear that this map is the original map used for the 1854 published map of the city, which is held in Madison. Bramwell seems to have an interesting biography, although little is known about the details of his life. Credits to his name include state legislator, surveyor, preacher, inventor and spinning wheel maker. Whatever his true calling, it is clear his attention to detail and craftsmanship has left us a beautifully rich and detailed map of one of Indiana’s oldest cities.

It is not known when the Indiana State Library acquired this map, or its history before it arrived at the library. When it was found in the collection it was in an extremely deteriorated and fragile state. The map was still adhered to its original fabric backing, which had become very dirty and deteriorated. As with many maps from this period, the front had been varnished, which resulted in even more deterioration. The front of the map had also become so dirty and discolored that most of the map could not be read. Many pieces of the map had broken off and become lost, and it was difficult to determine the difference between the paper areas and the cloth. It was in such poor condition, that even unrolling it would result in pieces falling off. Finally, as with many maps from this period, there was evidence of water damage as well in the form of staining.

The goals for this project were simple. In its current state, the map was unusable. It was so dirty that it could not be read, and it was so fragile that even unrolling it would result in more pieces falling off. The goals of this project were to clean the map as much as possible to remove the old varnish, the dirt and the staining and then line the map onto a single sheet of Japanese paper to allow for it to be stable enough to handle. While the goals were simple, the execution would prove to be complicated by the enormous quantity of loose pieces that would come loose once the original fabric was removed. In order to preserve the information in the map, all the loose pieces would need to stay in their correct spots throughout the entire treatment. Finally, the map would be encapsulated in a custom polyester film sleeve to allow for more protection. The below pictures outline the conservation process.

Before treatment of top section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

Before treatment of bottom section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

In order to remove the varnish, the map was placed faced down on blotter paper a high-power suction table and sprayed with ethanol.

The ethanol would penetrate through the fabric and paper, solubilizing the varnish, and pull it into the blotter below.

This process was repeated until all the varnish was removed. The map was routinely lifted and checked during this process.

The blotter shows all the varnish removed from the map.

The map sections were washed in modified hot water on a rigid sheet of plexiglass for support.

The map was carefully lifted on the plexiglass support and tilted. Using a small brush and a Japanese mister, the entire surface of the maps was cleaned to remove all remaining varnish and dirt. Careful attention was paid to make sure all the loose pieces of the map stayed in their correct spots throughout the entire process.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

After the map sections were cleaned, the map was placed face down on polyester film and the original fabric was carefully removed making sure none of the loose pieces moved.

This image shows the map after the fabric was removed and the thousands of small pieces of the map that are now loose.

This image shows the map after the fabric was removed and the thousands of small pieces of the map that are now loose.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The top and bottom section of the map next to each other. At this point, the bottom section has already been treated and the top section had not yet been treated.

After treatment of top section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

After treatment of bottom section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

Conservation intern Lily Duncan encapsulating the map in a polyester film sleeve with an ultrasonic polyester welder.

Click here to read more about the conservation efforts of the Indiana State Library.

This blog post was written by Seth Irwin, conservator, and Monique Howell, Indiana Collection supervisor, both of the Indiana State Library.

Ways to fill your shelves without draining your budget

About a month ago, the Indiana State Library hosted a webinar titled “Ways to Fill Your Shelves Without Draining Your Budget.” During the webinar, I shared a multitude of resources for librarians showing where they can obtain free books. The webinar is now archived on the Indiana State Library’s website and available for viewing at any time. In case you missed it, or if you would like to try out a few of the resources included in the webinar, here are a few highlights:

EarlyWord – The EarlyWord website is a great place to find contact information for publishing houses and their many imprints. As a librarian, you can request books early to review and/or preview for purchase. Once you find out the publisher of a book, EarlyWord is a great place to go to find out who to contact for a specific book. They have two lists: one for adult publishing contacts and one for children’s publishing contacts. Another great feature of EarlyWord is that you can sign up for librarian newsletters from the links provided and organized by publisher. Publisher’s newsletters most always have contests and giveaways for free books for librarians.

Bookish First – On Bookish First, there are a few featured books each month that you can read an excerpt from and provide a quick first impression. For each of impression you write, you get points. You are also entered to win physical copies of each book you write the first impression for as well. Then, if you review books on their website, share your review to Amazon, Goodreads, or your blog if you have one, you can receive even more points. Once you have 2,000 points, you can choose a free book to be mailed to you. It’s free to signup, and when you do, you automatically get 500 bonus points to get you started.

Early Audiobook Listening Copies – There are two places I check each month to get complimentary early audiobook listening copies, known as ALCs, specifically for librarians. These are LibroFM and the Volumes app. Both are free to sign up. With LibroFM, librarians and educators can download three free audiobooks each month from their selection, which is updated monthly. For the Volumes app, you’ll have to download the app and then signup on the link provided above. Then you can download free audiobooks each month to review. They are yours to keep after downloading.

If you would like to view the full webinar – and see even more resources for receiving free books – you can access it on our Archived Webinars page, or directly via the link shared above. Don’t hesitate to contact me via email if you have any questions regarding these resources.

Submitted by Laura Jones, Northwest regional coordinator, Indiana State Library.

Resource sharing update recap

On Oct. 2, the Indiana State Library hosted a resource sharing update for the Indiana library community. The two-hour webinar detailed the latest resource sharing information in the state. This took the place of the annual Discovery to Delivery conference which is normally held in-person each year. This abbreviated virtual conference featured sessions from State Library staff and vendors, and was attended by public, academic, school and institutional library staff. State Librarian Jacob Speer and Nick Schenkel, director of the West Lafayette Public Library, kicked off the conference by welcoming attendees.

Sessions included:

EBSCO – Rick Rybak, Academic Regional Sales Manager, EBSCO
As of July 1, the INSPIRE virtual library has been updated to feature EBSCO databases, including an upgrade to Academic Search Complete. Rick explained some of the newer additions to EBSCO’s offerings, including eBooks and LearningExpress.

Teaching Books – Nick Glass, Founder and Executive Director
Nick introduced the group to the resources available through TeachingBooks, which is also part of INSPIRE. While TeachingBooks’ primary audience is educators and caregivers, Nick introduced the new Book Connections interface, which is intended for every reader. Resources on these sites include background information on books and authors, including complete audio and video book readings.

InfoExpress – Nicole Brock, Indiana State Library Resource Sharing Coordinator and NOW Courier Staff
Nicole gave an update on the courier service beginning with the shutdown in March to the gradual reopening this summer. Nicole passed along some best practices related to shipping. NOW Courier staff shared some insight on how their mission is aligned with the Indiana State Library’s and gave a preview of some upcoming developments, including an upgrade to a new platform which will reduce unnecessary stops.

SRCS and Indiana Share – Nicole Brock, Indiana State Library Resource Sharing Coordinator
Nicole Brock gave an update on participation in both interlibrary loan services, and a preview of upcoming SRCS enhancements. Following the presentation, Nicole also hosted an informal lunch discussion for SRCS libraries.

Project ReShare – Scott Garrison, Executive Director, Midwest Collaborative for Library Services
Scott capped off the morning by providing an update on Project ReShare, an exploratory service that has the potential to breakdown barriers between consortia and systems, putting the patron in the center and increasing access to library materials.

The recording of the workshop and presentations is posted to State Library’s Resource Sharing page.

This post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office, Indiana State Library.

Regina Anderson Andrews, pioneering African American librarian

Regina Anderson Andrews was a librarian, author, playwright and the executive director of the Harlem Experimental Theatre.

Andrews was born on Tuesday, May 21, 1901 in Hyde Park, Illinois to Margaret Simons Anderson and William Grant Anderson. She was a 1919 graduate of Hyde Park High School, the alma mater of famous airplane pilot, Amelia Earhart.

After graduating high school, Andrews attended Wilberforce University a historically black university in Wilberforce, Ohio. While at Wilberforce, Andrews worked at the university’s Carnegie Library as a library assistant. In 1921, Andrews moved to Chicago where she worked as a junior assistant at the Chicago Public Library. Two years later, Andrews moved to New York City and was hired as a clerk at the New York Public Library’s 135th St. Branch, now known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In 1926, she enrolled in the Columbia University Library School. That same year, she married William T. Andrews, a graduate of Howard University and a lawyer for the NAACP.

During her years at the New York Public Library, Andrews worked with other pioneering African American librarians such as Catherine Latimer, the New York Public Library’s first African American librarian, Sadie Peterson Delaney, a pioneer in bibliotherapy, and Arthur Schomburg, a noted bibliophile and collector of works from the African diaspora. Andrews later became the first African American librarian at the Woodstock Branch of the New York Public Library. Andrews also worked at the 115th St. Branch of the New York Public Library – now known as the Harry Belafonte 115th St. Branch – and was one of a few African American librarians to hold supervisory positions during that time, becoming head of the 115th St. Branch and the Washington Heights Branch.

In her role as a playwright and author, Andrews wrote plays such as “Underground” and “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder,” co-founded the Harlem Experimental Theatre with Dorothy Petersen in 1929 and co-edited “Chronology of African Americans in New York, 1621-1966” with Ethel Nance. In addition, Andrews was close friends with writers Zora Neal Hurston and James Weldon Johnson; poets Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes; civil rights activist and historian W.E.B. DuBois; and A’Lelia Walker, daughter of beauty entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker.

Regina Anderson Andrews continued her work at the New York Public Library until her retirement in 1966. She died on Friday, Feb. 5, 1993 at the age of 91 in Ossining, New York.

The Indiana State Library is fortunate to have in its collection “Regina Anderson Andrews: Harlem Renaissance Librarian”, a biography on Andrews written by Dr. Ethelene Whitmire, a professor at the iSchool of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In addition to her book, Dr. Whitmire has a brief YouTube video about Andrews, “Harlem Renaissance Librarian: The Life of Regina Andrews.”

This blog post was written by Michele Fenton, monographs and federal documents catalog librarian.

Evaluating online resources for COVID-19 data

Resources online for COVID-19 data are already plentiful. You can do a search today and find data on the internet from all over the world, from many sources and for a variety of audiences. So, this is a good time to review the ways we evaluate sources for data and information.

There is no one perfect method for validating a data source. The usefulness of the data does not necessarily determine its reliability, nor does its timeliness or currency. When you choose a good book to read, you generally look for a good author, right? When you’re looking for good data, you need to choose a data source that has been verified by other sources.

This will ensure that the next time you search for data, you know where it’s from, what makes it a credible source, and how reliable it is.

If you do a Google search on “evaluating sources,” you can find several helpful mnemonics and acronyms that can help you remember how to search safely:

SIFT = Stop. Investigate. Find. Trace.

CRAP Test/CARP/CRAPPO/TRAAP = Currency. Relevance. Authority. Accuracy. Purpose.

CRITIC = Claim? Role of claimant? Information backing the claim? Testing? Independent verification? Conclusion?

PROVEN = Purpose. Relevance. Objectivity. Verifiability. Expertise. Newness.

Any one of these methods is useful for evaluating information sources. When it comes to data specifically, these are important questions to ask:

Where is the data from?
What was the source for this number or set of numbers? Did this come from a database that was available to you online? What organization created or collected the data? For what purpose? Was it a government information resource, a well-known national nonprofit organization or a college or university-owned research center? Was the data private or public information?

Who owns or maintains the data?
What is the name of the individual researcher or organization which conducted the survey or held the focus groups or interviews? What agency or organization published its findings with a publicized database or report? Who maintains the website you downloaded the data from?

When was the data made available compared to when it was collected?
What was the time frame for data collection? When was the database or report based on this data published? What date was the data released? When did you access the data?

How reliable is the data?
For how many years has the study been done? Can the data be verified? Can the study be reproduced? What methods were used to collect the data? Is the study peer reviewed? How are the data collection methods evaluated? How reputable are the organizations producing the data? Who else repeatedly uses this data?

Here are some examples of current, reliable sources for COVID-19 data:
The most recent COVID-19 data available for our state comes directly from the Indiana Department of Health. This is a government information source. The ISDH has been transparent in releasing current information daily throughout the pandemic. Since we get the numbers directly from the ISDH, it is our primary data source. We’re not relying on a secondary source for information.

For federal statistics on COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a COVID Data Tracker with cases and deaths by state and county.

For global statistics on COVID-19, the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering maintains a COVID-19 dashboard that shows cases by country and world region. It includes information about data sources and technical production of the database.

Please see the Indiana State Data Center’s Coronavirus Data and Map Resources, by Geography on the Indiana State Library’s website for more data sources.

This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.

Newly-digitized images from the Genealogy Division

Working at home during the pandemic has changed the way we approach our daily tasks. While we can’t do some things that we can do on-site from home, there are still a lot of projects that can be completed. Fortunately, I was able to upload several digitized images from multiple collections in our holdings during this time. Below are some of the images from two of the collections.

Vesper Cook grew up as Dorothy Vesper Wilkinson in Peru, Indiana. She was the curator of the Miami County Museum for 20 years and wrote some local and family histories. Her collection contains some of her research along with numerous photographs.

The photographs are of not only her immediate family, but also of her extended family as well as several her mother’s friends as teens and young adults.

Katherine Parrish was born in Indianapolis in 1921. She attended Shortridge High School and Butler University. She later married Milton Mondor. Her father was John P. Parrish, an architect who help design buildings at Stout Field along with several other buildings around Indianapolis, while her mother grew up in the area known as Nora.

The Mondor Collection has numerous family photographs, both intimate as well as staged. Most of them are of her immediate family but her parents’ extended family is also represented in the collection.

There are also photographs of John P. Parrish’s social life and his career as an architect. There are photographs of buildings around Broad Ripple and Washington Township as well as the hanger and administration building at Stout Field. He also sent many postcards home with images of the Murat Gun Club at Shiners conventions in the 1920s.

To view more digital images from the Genealogy Division check out our Digital Collections page.

Blog written by Sarah Pfundstein, genealogy librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3689 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Toucan interview with Keiko Kasza

You might have seen Sammy the Interviewing Toucan talk to some Indiana authors recently. Sammy is releasing a new video every Tuesday at 2 p.m Eastern Time via the Indiana State Library’s Facebook account. You can see past interviews on YouTube.

Indiana author Keiko Kasza preferred to do her interview via email and Sammy was more than happy to accommodate her. What follows is their interview.

Sammy: We always start our interviews by talking about Indiana. Can you share with us, what is your connection to Indiana? It’s very exciting to me that you were born in Japan, but you are now a Hoosier!
Keiko: We moved to Bloomington in 1985, when my husband got a teaching job at Indiana University. I’m happy to announce that we have witnessed the IU men’s basketball team winning the national championship. We screamed for joy in our little apartment in Bloomington.

Sammy: Do you consider yourself to be a Hoosier?
Keiko: After living here for more than 30 years, I think I have won Hoosier citizenship.

Sammy: Let’s talk about your work. All of your books feature animals. What made you choose animals to star in your books?

Keiko: I think there are four reasons why I use animals. For starters, animals are perfect characters when you write universal stories. Not specifying a race or a nationality of the human book characters really helps me create universal stories and focus on the theme itself. Therefore, I believe that my books have been translated into 15 languages, not because of the quality – though I’d like to believe that’s true, too – but mostly because it’s easier to translate universal stories into different languages.

Secondly, I have more freedom if I use animals. I can make a bad wolf look really bad, or make a hippo really fat, which might offend some people if I used humans.Thirdly, if I have to write a human story, I would need to do tons of research. What era is it? What is the social code like, and what kind of clothes or hairstyles are people wearing, etc. Although I read scientific information on the habitats of animals, their food and their enemies, the background information is minimal compared to writing human stories.

And lastly, I can’t draw humans too well.

Sammy: What is your favorite animal to draw?
Keiko: I don’t have a favorite animal to draw but I do have animals that I don’t want to draw. Horses, camels, zebras, etc.; those who have long legs. I often make animals stand up and walk on two legs like humans, so animals with long limbs look awkward.

Sammy: One of my favorite books of yours is “A Mother for Choco.” This is probably because I myself am a bird. This seems like a great book to share with children who are adopted. Did you have that in mind when you wrote the book?

Keiko: Not at all. The story came from my experience when I first landed in the U.S. I landed in LAX. I have never forgotten my shock at seeing so many different races of people walking around in the airport. Japan – especially back then – was a more homogeneous country; all you saw in Japan were Japanese people. I wanted to write multicultural stories. But since it was published, the “Choco” book has been well-received by adoption and foster families. And I’m glad!

Sammy: Several themes emerge in your books. Animals try to escape being eaten and I also notice stories about friendship and fairness. Why are you drawn to stories like these?
Keiko: When I write, I often think about what it was like when I was 5 years old. What kind of things would you remember from that long ago? Those incidents that gave you strong emotional reactions, such as happy, sad, frustrated and angry. My book, “The Rat and the Tiger,” is based on the frustration I felt dealing with a bossy friend from the time I was 5 until 7 years old. So, if there is a pattern in the themes I write, I would say it has to be my own childhood memories that have never left me.

Sammy: Do you have any advice to people who want to be authors someday?
Keiko: Just like real estate people say, “Location, location, location”, I want to say, “Read, read, read.”

Sammy: How are you doing in regards to the pandemic? I’m assuming this has made travel to Japan nearly impossible.
Keiko: Yes, I cancelled a trip to Japan this spring. Not only to see my family, but I was going to give two talks there. Other talks in the U.S. also have been cancelled.

Sammy: I’m so sorry to hear that. So much has changed due to the pandemic. Are you working on any new books at the moment? Can you tell us about them?
Keiko: I have been working on new stories. So far, I have four stories all dummied out. One is about the relationship between a grandmother and grandchild in Japan. Hopefully it will take my work into a new direction.

Sammy: Thank you so much, Keiko! This is your favorite Hoosier Toucan encouraging you to read local. So long!

This blog post was submitted by Sammy the Interviewing Toucan. 

2020 The Difference is You conference recap

The Indiana State Library held its annual The Difference is You Conference on Friday, Sept. 18. The conference is designed for library front line workers and library support staff. This year’s conference was affected by the pandemic, and was held virtually instead of in-person. The silver lining of virtual conferences is the ability to get presenters from around the country. They also offer a chance for more people to attend, especially if traveling to the conference is difficult for them.

The first session was given by Bobbi Newman, community engagement and outreach specialist for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Greater Midwest Region. From the comfort of her home in Iowa, Bobbi presented “Health Information Online.” With the pandemic still going strong, this was timely information. A recent Pew study found that health is the number two most-searched topic for information online. Public libraries are well-positioned and have the potential to provide health information for their communities. The session offered free reliable evidence-based resources for health information as well as review tools for accessing health information found online.

The second session was brought to us by three Indiana librarians: Amy Dalton of the Johnson County Public Library; Heidi Lovett of the North Manchester Public Library and Kate Blakely of Bremen Public Library. They each shared the lessons they learned when they were forced to take their programming online after Covid-19 forced libraries to close. They each shared program ideas that had worked for them at their libraries as well as difficulties that arose doing virtual programs.

The keynote address was given by Trina Evans, the 2017 The Difference is You Award winner and a 2018 Library Journal Mover and Shaker in the innovative category. Trina shared how her journey to working in libraries required persistence. She has a heart for libraries and has now made the switch to a school library. She talked about the programs that she was able to bring to her public library and how that brought recognition on a state and national level. She was quick to give credit to the other people in her library that helped bring the programs to fruition. She reminded everyone, in closing, that they can make a difference in the libraries where they work.

Trina Evans, 2017 The Difference is You Award winner

After the keynote, the 2020 The Difference is You Award winners were announced. Yes, winners is plural, because there was a tie this year. There were 17 nominations this year that were all deserving of the award, but two stood out: Agnes Dombrowski and Teri Schmidt. Agnes has worked at her public library for 40 years and has done pretty much every job during her tenure. Teri is well-known in her community because she works at the middle school library as well as the public library and touches many lives that way. Congratulations to these women for their contributions to their libraries and, in turn, their communities!

The afternoon sessions were presented by EBSCO trainer Lisa Jones, and she focused her content on what is new to INSPIRE this year, along with highlighting resources to be used as homework help for grades K-12.

We sure missed meeting together in person this year, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s conference with the hope that we can meet in person. Mark your calendars now for the 2021 The Difference is You conference, tentatively scheduled for Friday, Sept. 17, 2021.

This blog post was written by Kara Cleveland, Professional Development Office supervisor at the Indiana State Library.

IFLA 80th World Library and Information Congress recap; 2021 update

Back on Aug. 24-27, 2019, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions held its 80th World Library and Information Congress in Athens, Greece. Filled with pre-conference events, sessions, meetings and exhibits, the IFLA World Library and Information Congress attracts thousands of library and information professionals from around the globe each year. The 2019 conference theme was “Libraries: Dialogues for Change”.

Sessions of interest included the “OCLC Symposium,” “Data Mining and Artificial Intelligence,” “Strengthening the Global Voice: Securing the Future of Libraries,” “The Migration of Books: Cultural Heritage (Objects) and Ideas on the Move,” “Gatekeeping to Advocacy: Government Libraries” and “Technology as Gateway to Inclusivity: Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities.”

In addition to conference sessions, attendees took advantage of the conference’s various library and site-seeing tours and experienced the culture of Greece on “Cultural Night.”

Held throughout the week, the site-seeing tours included visits to the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, ancient Corinth, the Monastery of Daphni, Cape Sounion, Old Athens, Olympia, Kolonaki, Kalamata, Messini, Koroni, Methoni, Mystras, Monanemvasia, Santorini, Hydra, Poros, Aegina and a food tour.

Also held throughout the week, were library tours to the Bank of Greece Library, the Infant and Toddler Library, the Institut Français de Grèce – Médiathèque Octave Merlier, the National Library of Greece, the Hellenic American College Library, Law Library of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Parnassos Literary Society’s Library, the Academy of Athens Library, the Library of the Hellenic Parliament, the Greek Comics Fun Club (Lefik), the Athens Comics Library and several other libraries.

In addition, attendees could visit various archives: General State Archives of Greece, the Dora Stratou Greek Dances Theater, Archives and Publications, Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation Archive and the Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive.

On “Cultural Night,” held at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center, conference attendees experienced Greek food, performances by Greek dancers and musicians. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center houses the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera, the Agora, the Lighthouse, the Canal and Stavros Niarchos Park.

The IFLA WLIC 2019 ended with an announcement of the locations of IFLA WLIC 2020 and 2021. The 2020 conference was scheduled to be held in Dublin, Ireland but due to COVID-19, it was cancelled. A recent press release relayed the following update regarding the 2021 conference:

…our 2021 Congress will take place virtually, with the welcome support of the Dutch National Committee.

The physical conference previously planned in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, will move to 2023, and take place in a hybrid online/in-person format. We continue to plan for an in-person conference in Dublin, Ireland in 2022, with a strengthened online element.

For more information about IFLA, its conferences, publications, webinars, events and projects, please visit the IFLA website.

This blog post was written by Michele Fenton, monographs and federal documents catalog librarian.

A virtual National Book Festival featuring the Road Map to Reading and Indiana’s ‘Wake Up, Woods’

Like most things in 2020, the National Book Festival looks nothing like it has in the past. Last year, tens of thousands of attendees crammed themselves into long lines to meet their favorite authors. They joined hundreds of other literary buffs in giant halls at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. to watch interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning writers and famous politicians. They snaked their way through the crowded vendor hall, picking up free bookmarks, posters, and other swag from the hundreds of booths and stages, all catering to the book-loving public who swarmed the festival in droves.

Past National Book Festivals included the crowded Pavilion of the States

None of that is possible in this year’s COVID-19 reality. Instead, the festival has gone virtual. One thing that has always been true of the festival is that it is a free event, open to the public. This year, the public does not only include the people who can make it to Washington, it includes anyone with access to a computer. Virtual attendees will be able to explore nine author “stages” where more than 120 authors will be featured, including many who will be participating in live events where participants can interact with the presenters in real time.

In addition, the 2020 festival will include the Roadmap to Reading feature, a virtual iteration of the beloved Pavilion of the States attraction from years past. In the old days, the Pavilion of the States was one of the most crowded areas of the festival. Each state and territory of the U.S. had a booth where they’d feature a special book, highlight local authors and give away more swag than you could fit in one literary themed tote-bag. This year, each state will be presenting virtual content, including videos and poetry at their virtual booths.

Visit the Roadmap to Reading to experience literary content from all the states

You can visit Indiana at the 2020 National Book Festival by navigating to the National Book Festival’s website. Register to attend the festival, and once you are on the landing page, click on Discover Great Reads to explore as many states as you like, including Indiana.

Indiana’s booth will have lots of content surrounding our chosen book for the festival, “Wake Up, Woods.” Sammy the Interviewing Toucan will do a very special interview with the two authors of the book and there will be plenty of information about Indiana native plants.

You can watch a preview of the Wake Up, Woods interview on Sept. 22 on the Indiana State Library’s Facebook page

The 20th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival will be held online Sept. 25-27. For news and updates, follow the festival blog and subscribe to latest updates.

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.