Season 2 Upcoming Events

📅 On Being Fabulous with Jonathan Van Ness & Kristi Yamaguchi

Wednesday, May 17 at 7 p.m. CST

Queer Eyeand “Getting Curious star and ice skating superfan, Jonathan Van Ness talks with his idol, Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi. They’ll chat figure skating, fabulous style, and whatever else comes up! With Jonathan, you never quite know what he’ll say next, but his unfiltered takes are always as interesting as they are hilarious.  

📅 A Conversation with Jesmyn Ward

RESCHEDULED: Tuesday, June 6 at 7 p.m. CST

Hailed as “the new Toni Morrison” by the American Booksellers Association, Jesmyn Ward discusses how her literary vision and personal experiences address urgent questions about racism and social injustice. Her latest book, Navigate Your Stars, is an adaptation of her 2018 commencement address at Tulane University that championed the value of hard work. 

A professor of creative writing at Tulane University and contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Ward’s many honors include the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, a MacArthur Genius Grant, and a Strauss Living Award. In 2017, she became the first woman and first person of color to win the National Book Award for Fiction twice. The standout writer of her generation, Ward’s stories are largely set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where she grew up and still lives.

📅 Braiding Sweetgrass: A Conversation with Robin Wall Kimmerer

Wednesday, June 21 at 7 p.m. CST

A special evening with Robin Wall Kimmerer, the award-winning author of "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants." In this insightful and inspiring talk, Robin will share her unique perspective on the interconnectedness of humans and nature and the importance of recognizing and respecting the gifts of the earth. She will delve into her own experiences as a botanist, indigenous science professor, and environmental advocate, and offer insights into her journey of learning to listen to the voice of the natural world. This is a rare opportunity to hear from one of the most important voices in the movement toward a more sustainable and equitable future and to be inspired to make positive changes in your own life and community. 

Season 2 Past Events

📅 Drawing Comics with Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Saturday, May 6 at 10 a.m. CST

Celebrate Free Comic Book Day with New York Times bestselling author and illustrator, Jarrett J. Krosoczka! Perfect for the entire family, this live, virtual drawing workshop is sure to inspire the inner artist in everyone. Jarrett creates books with humor, heart, and deep respect for his young readers—qualities that have made his titles perennial favorites on the bookshelves of homes, libraries, and bookstores over the past twenty years. So sharpen your pencils, bring out the paper, and join us on Saturday, May 6 at 10a.m for this can’t miss event!

Jarrett J. Krosoczka, known since boyhood as "JJK," is the New York Times bestselling author/illustrator behind more than forty books for young readers, including his wildly popular Lunch Lady graphic novels, select volumes of the Star Wars™: Jedi Academy series, and Hey, Kiddo, which was a National Book Award Finalist.

📅 Secrets of a Puzzle Master: A Conversation with Will Shortz

Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 7 p.m. CST

Will Shortz, the editor of The New York Times crossword puzzle, and the world’s only academically accredited puzzle master, discusses crossword puzzles. The author/editor of more than 500 puzzle books, Shortz is also the puzzle master for NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday and the founder and director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, held annually for more than 40 years. Through his championing of puzzles Will has earned admiring fans from all over the world. 

In honor of this event, Will Shortz has created a special crossword puzzle all about Illinois. The puzzle will be emailed to all registrants after March 14!

📅 Danny Trejo Talks Tacos, Hollywood, & Redemption

Tuesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. CST

Actor, author, and restaurateur Danny Trejo will discuss how he developed a prolific career in the entertainment industry with a hard-earned and atypical road to success. From years of imprisonment to helping troubled youth battle drug addictions, from acting to producing, and now on to restaurant ventures, Trejo’s name, face, and achievements are well recognized in Hollywood and beyond, but it is his continuous role as a devoted father of three and an intervention counselor that bring him the most satisfaction.

📅 The Weird & Wonderful World with Mary Roach

Wednesday, March 1 at 7 p.m. CST

Experience an entertaining and hilarious evening with New York Times best-selling science author, Mary Roach - despite her claim that “people call me a science writer, though I don't have a science degree and sometimes have to fake my way through interviews with experts I can't understand”! Roach will discuss her frank approach to science, the importance of humor, and explore the weird, wonderful world in which we live.

Annalee Newitz will join Mary Roach in conversation. Newitz has a Ph.D. in English and American Studies from UC Berkeley and is one half of the hilarious podcast, Our Opinions are Correct. On their show, Newitz delves into the weird, wonderful, and nerdy framework of science in pop culture. 

📅 Saying Yes to Your Story: A Conversation with Kwame Alexander

Wednesday, February 8 at 7 p.m. CST

Join us for an evening of inspiration and conversation with best-selling and award-winning children’s and young adult author and poet, Kwame Alexander, author of the Newbery Award winning book, The Crossover, Newbery Honor/Caldecott Medal winning book, The Undefeated, and most recently, An American Story, for an Illinois Libraries Present event for young people and their families. Kwame will share ways to say yes to your story and persist in the face of rejection as he shares his own publishing journey. As a creator of more than 36 books, Kwame will energize our community to harness the power of words and storytelling for change! 

This program will be presented live without a recording.

📅 A Conversation with Ross Gay

Wednesday, January 11 at 7 p.m. CST

Kick off your new year with a conversation about joy with best-selling essayist and award-winning poet Ross Gay. An exploration of the joy we incite when we turn our attention to what we love and what brings us together, Ross will discuss his most recent collection of essays, Inciting Joy, with performance poet Dan “Sully” Sullivan. 


Ross Gay is the author of four books of poetry and a winner of the PEN American Literary Jean Stein Award; the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award; and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His first collection of essays, The Book of Delights, was released in 2019 and was a New York Times bestseller.


Dan “Sully” Sullivan is a three-time Chicago Poetry Slam Champion. His poems and performances have been featured on HBO Def Poetry Jam, WGN Morning News, and National Public Radio. The Blue Line Home is his first full-length book of poems.

📅 A Conversation with Shauna Sever

Tuesday, December 13th at 7 p.m. CST

Join Shauna Sever, cookbook author, TV and radio contributor, and daughter of the great Midwest as she shares her love of food, baking, and tips to make holiday gatherings delicious. Her cookbook, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland, was named  one of the Best Baking Cookbooks by The New York Times. 

Chicago Tribune food critic, Louisa Chu, joins her in conversation. Chu is co-host of the Chewing podcast, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, and a James Beard Foundation nominee.

📅 A Conversation with Caitlin Doughty

Wednesday, November 16th at 7 p.m. CST

Join us for a conversation with Caitlin Doughty, mortician, author, and advocate for death acceptance. Hailed by The New York Times as "a relentlessly curious and chipper tour guide to the underworld,” she’ll discuss reform of Western funeral industry practices and more with Mark Bazer.

Doughty is a mortician, advocate, and bête noire of the traditional funeral industry. Her webseries "Ask a Mortician" has been viewed over 250 million times and her three books were New York Times bestsellers. She founded a Los Angeles funeral home as well as the funeral reform collective The Order of the Good Death, which spawned the death positive movement.

Mark Bazer is host and creator of “The Interview Show,” a talk show in a bar. Aired on WTTW, and filmed at The Hideout, it features conversations as substantive as they are entertaining.

📅 A Conversation with Marlee Matlin: From Oscar to West Wing and Beyond

Wednesday, September 14th at 7 p.m. CST

In celebration of Deaf Awareness Month, Marlee Matlin joins Illinois Libraries Present to share the highs and lows of her Hollywood career and journeys as an activist. The youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar, Matlin’s acting career recently achieved another milestone as her 2021 film CODA swept every category it was nominated in at the 2022 Academy Awards. 

A longtime advocate for deaf rights, Matlin continues to break down barriers for herself and others through her acting, awareness, and writing. As she has so aptly stated, “The only thing I can’t do is hear. The rest is there for the taking.”

This program will be offered in ASL and translated through an interpreter. 

Pilot Season Events | 2022

An Evening with Michelle Zauner

with Jessica Hopper

Thursday, June 30, 2022

 An Evening with Chef Kwame Onwuachi

with Erick Williams

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

 Jessamine Chan & Emily Maloney

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Nick Offerman & Jeff Tweedy

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

An Evening with Jenny Lawson

with R. Eric Thomas

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

An Evening with Jasmine Guillory

with Morgan Rogers

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

An Evening with Silvia Moreno-Garcia

with Gus Moreno

Wednesday, January 26, 2022