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.
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.
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.
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.