After nearly 100 years in Chicago’s Wrigleyville/Lakeview neighborhood, Catholic publisher Loyola Press has moved its corporate headquarters. The press is now located at 8770 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. in an area known as the O’Hare corridor due to its proximity to the airport. Loyola’s president and publisher Joellyn Cicciarelli says the move was precipitated by the pandemic, and that the new space will better support the company’s need for both a state-of-the-art recording studio as well as an environment conducive to collaboration and cross-department interaction.

Following the onset of Covid-19, demand for Loyola’s digital licenses and sales of its audio and e-books rose significantly, according to Cicciarelli. “Customer behavior changed overnight,” she says. “We were in the middle of developing multimedia and ancillary materials to go with our textbooks. The old building doesn't have the same infrastructure—we could hear the L train. The pandemic was a clear sign that we have to look for a new home.”

Loyola will continue to publish curriculum and associated multimedia products, including interactive, self-guided digital learning experiences and trade books in e-book and audio formats. The press also recently launched a podcast, Carpool Catechesis, and developed a video game, Wanderlight: A Pilgrim's Adventure.

Loyola's acquisition focus includes material on social emotional learning (SEL) for children as well as mental health issues for adults, and books on early childhood and and family engagement. Cicciarelli wants to discover “new authors, new formats, new categories, and continue to grow in the digital space.”

Tom Vozzo’s The Homeboy Way: A Radical Approach to Business and Life, set to be published February 22, represents a new direction Loyola is taking, Cicciarelli adds. The book features business and leadership practices as well as “55 rules to break.” Vozzo is CEO of Los Angeles-based Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program, founded by Jesuit priest Greg Boyle. “We want to meet peoples’ points of pain, but take the negative energy and turn it positive. We’re not focusing on the problem or what divides us, but looking for the solution, creating practical solutions through a lens of love,” Cicciarelli says.

Loyola has embraced a hybrid work model, and spent a year developing the schedule: staff will work from home three days a week and come into the new office two days—one with their whole department (for example, the editorial department), and the second day with the department they work with the most (i.e., the curriculum product development and curriculum marketing departments). While the hybrid model is in place to help reduce the spread of Covid-19, it will remain in place “as we please, good God, come out of the pandemic,” Cicciarelli says.

Since the new office is close to the airport, hosting guests and authors for events and other in-person gatherings will be easier, once it is safe to do so, adds Cicciarelli. In the meantime, “We found that virtual book launches can actually reach more people than in person ones,” she says. During the launch of Mark Shriver’s children’s book 10 Hidden Heroes, rapper Usher “popped in,” Cicciarelli explains. “During a typical Loyola book launch, Usher would not have showed up. It has been a real upside for us.”

Looking at religion publishing as a whole, Cicciarelli says the overarching trend is the move toward technology. “Religion publishers, and schools and parishes, were late adopters [of e-books and audio]. Covid pushed that over the edge,” she says. “It’s not going to go away. People want their content all ways.”

As for both the new location and the future for Loyola, “It feels like a fresh start,” Cicciarelli notes.