The Public Library Association conference, held March 13-17 in Philadelphia, Penn., played host not only to more than 6,000 librarians, but also to more than a dozen publishers of religion books, there to build awareness of their titles among attendees. In recent years, religion publishers have expressed the desire to reach the library market more effectively, and this biannual conference, as well as the larger annual ALA conventions, have become increasingly important places for them to exhibit and to interact with librarians.

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, a 100-year-old Christian house based in Grand Rapids, Mich., has bowed out of BEA, but finds the library shows crucial for its highly regarded children’s line. At PLA, Anita Eerdmans, v-p of marketing, told RBL, "It's become harder for us to get the kind of children's books we do placed in retail stores, especially with the contraction in the bookstore business, so the library market is critical for us." She added, “The nature of our list--lots of foreign buys, translations, and more ‘serious’ books--makes them fit in well with the diverse interests of children's librarians.”

Eerdmans has exhibited its children’s line at PLA for about 10 years, and at ALA (both winter and summer) for about 15 years. The house also exhibits at regional library and education conferences.

At the Abingdon booth, regional sales director Bryan Williams said that after a starred review and cover ad in the March 5 issue of PW, on the day PLA opened he gave away 200 copies of My Story, My Song: Mother-Daughter Reflections on Life and Faith (Upper Room, Mar.), a memoir by Lucimarian Roberts, with commentary by her daughter, Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts.

In Religion Update II, the second of our quarterly special supplements focused on religion/spirituality, we’ll take an in-depth look at what publishers in the category are doing to reach librarians, which of the books and genres they publish are most popular with library patrons, what librarians say they could do better, and other key issues. Look for it in the May 7 issue of PW.