No question, BookExpo has over the years become a popular, important show for librarians. Although, as many librarians no doubt still recall, that wasn’t always the case.

“Years back, for a librarian to attend BookExpo [then known as ABA, or the Annual Convention and Trade Exhibit of the American Booksellers Association], it was practically a political act,” says PW columnist Brian Kenney, director of the White Plains (N.Y.) Public Library. “It took a few years of librarian advocacy and a changing bookselling landscape, but today librarians aren’t just welcome at BookExpo, we are even occasionally feted. Which is great, because it allows us to focus on what BookExpo is all about—books and their potential readers.”

In an age of continuous digital change, BookExpo is evolving. But it remains a vital conference for librarians—perhaps, given our digital, and political, realities, more vital then ever. The bedrock of BookExpo’s popularity with librarians is connecting with books and authors; the show is a crucial opportunity for librarians to learn about the titles their patrons will be clamoring for in the coming months. But it can—and should—be much more than that.

As Kenney notes, libraries and publishers share a common mission—serving readers. Yet outside of the major library shows (and occasional marketing and sales calls), how often do librarians and publishers get the chance to really dialogue—about both the mission they have in common, and the issues and practices where they might do better?

Librarians and publishers: don’t miss your chance to connect at BookExpo 2017. Librarians, how are e-books working in your library? Are you still struggling with high prices or lending restrictions? Have you spotted any trends emerging among your patrons? Anything your patrons are constantly asking for, or new resources you really need? Have any ideas or insights? Speak up!

Publishers, are you making the most of the opportunities libraries offer? Recent studies have shown that the heaviest users of libraries are also the heaviest book buyers. Libraries aren’t just great customers in and of themselves, they also represent your greatest customers. Are you engaging fully with the library community? Are you asking the right questions? A good conversation with a librarian can yield valuable feedback not just for your library sales team, but for your marketing and editorial departments, too. Just as with their patrons, librarians are happy to share—all you have to do is ask.

The Librarians’ Lounge

Whether you need to just get off your feet, grab a drink, some food, and recharge, or want to find some time to chat with librarians, be sure to check out the Publishers Weekly Librarians’ Lounge in the main exhibit hall, booth 875. Thanks to our sponsors—Baker & Taylor; DK; Hachette; Harlequin; Little, Brown Young Readers; Random House; Recorded Books; Rowman & Littlefield; and Sourcebooks—this year’s lounge figures to be our best yet.

On both days of the show, join librarians in the lounge for a delicious lunch, courtesy of Rowman & Littlefield. And Sourcebooks will be promoting its 30th anniversary by giving away a collection of its top 30 titles.

On Thursday, June 1, from 9 a.m. to 10:30, Recorded Books will again have some of its most popular audiobook narrators circling the lounge, including Therese Plummer (the voice of Robyn Carr), Johnny Heller (the voice of every genre), Jonathan Todd Ross (the voice of Luthor, the Doberman from the Swindle series), and Tim Gerard Reynolds (the voice of Michael J. Sullivan). And, there will be giveaways.

From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Little, Brown for Young Readers is planning a discussion on speculative fiction featuring Holly Black (author of the forthcoming The Cruel Prince) and Ryan Graudin (author of the forthcoming Invictus). Black is famous for her tales of urban faerie, and Graudin is rapidly building a reputation for her what-if stories. Both authors are adventurous in exploring YA psychology and morality through their novels. After lunch, from 2:30 to 4 p.m., DK will be sponsoring a “Maker Break,” where you can try out a project from the book Out of the Box, making a cardboard tube owl, and learn how you can incorporate such projects into STEAM and makerspace programs and events. And on Thursday at 4:30 p.m., Malachy McCourt will visit with librarians. McCourt’s latest book, Death Need Not Be Fatal, will be published by Center Street this month.

On Friday, June 2, Harlequin will be on hand in the lounge to showcase its new imprints, including an author panel from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. featuring Neil Olsen (The Black Painting, Hanover Square, Jan. 2017); Christopher Meades (Hanna Who Fell from the Sky, Park Row, Sept.); Eva Woods (Something Like Happy, Graydon House, Sept.); and Brianna Wolfson (Rosie Colored Glasses, Mira, Feb. 2017). And from 2:30 to 4 p.m., Penguin Random House will be showcasing its new #BookScoop program with ice cream, and a meet and greet. Authors Jane Green (The Sunshine Sisters), Melanie Benjamin (The Girls in the Picture), and Fiona Davis (The Address) will be on hand to talk with librarians, and to sign advance copies of their forthcoming books.

Don’t forget to say hello to PW staff as well. PW editors (including me) will also be around the lounge to talk books and libraries. There will be more details in the coming weeks on the PW website. And be sure to check out PW’s BookExpo Show Daily, featuring sections dedicated to library coverage, including appearances at the Librarians’ Lounge.

BookExpo Library Program

Once again, BookExpo will offer a range of programming for librarians at the show. Here are a few highlights of the 2017 program. On Thursday, Cracking the Code: What Booksellers, Publishers and Librarians Want from Author Events 11–11:50 a.m., room 1E11, will explore best practices for booking authors and speakers at your library. The Association of American Publishers will once again sponsor its popular two-day Librarians Book Buzz. Part I is set for Thursday, 2–3:15 p.m., on the Downtown Stage, and Part II will be on Friday, 9:30–10:45 a.m., in room 1E16. Come hear about the upcoming titles your patrons will be clamoring for. Also on Friday, 9:30–10:20 a.m., in room 1E10, a panel discussion titled Book Reviews: The Diversity of Race, Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation will explore one of the hottest and most important topics in the publishing and library communities. The ninth annual Librarian Shout ’n’ Share @ BookExpo is set for 1–2 p.m., at the Downtown Stage—a great chance to hear about more buzz books. And if you still have room in your suitcase for more books, check out the Great Book Club Titles for Fall/Winter 2017: Speed Dating for Booksellers, Librarians & Book Group Leaders, 2–3:50 p.m., in room 1E14. Pre-registration is required for this one, so check the BookExpo website for more information as well as a complete schedule of events.

“With the Librarians’ Lounge, buzz panels, sessions, and author events, you return home from BookExpo with more than cartons of readers’ copies,” Kenney says. “You return home smarter.”