One positive thing that has come out of this pandemic has been some new opportunities available to us due to our extensive use of virtual programming. Orange County Library System used to be an entirely in-person operation – all of our events and programs happened at one of our 15 library locations. Now, though, we offer all programs virtually, which has made it possible for us to work with presenters who may not otherwise have been able to travel to us for an event.
For example, for this year’s African American Read-In, an annual event during which presenters read aloud from prose and poetry composed by African American authors, we are pleased to have two keynote presenters who may not have been able to join us if the event were happening at one of our libraries. USA Today-bestselling author Beverly Jenkins, whose romance novels feature stories populated by Black characters living in the 19th-century, will be one of our keynote presenters. Our other keynote is the Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, the first African American and the first woman to ever hold the post. We’re very excited that these two exceptional women will join our panel of local politicians, newsmakers and influencers at this year’s event. It will stream live on February 28 over YouTube and Facebook – you don’t need a library card for this event, which is open to all. You can read an interview with Jenkins in the February issue of our Books & Beyond newsletter and on our OCLS Blog.
African American Read-In is not our only Black History Month event. We have events and programs throughout February for library lovers of all ages. Our Homeschool Meetup this month focuses on discussing African American inventors, and “Look I’m a Scientist!” will help educate our younger audiences about discoveries made by Black scientists. We’ll have a Grammy-nominated musician Nathi Gcabashe for a live musical performance, art programs about Black artists, a Princess and the Frog storytime and Black History Month Bingo.