Events

Upcoming Events | Season 3  (Sep. 2023 - May 2024)

Ruth E. Carter: Interweaving Tradition and Imagination Through Costume Design 

Wednesday, March 20 at 7 PM

Join us for a special event with Ruth E. Carter, two-time Academy Award-winning costume designer. Carter made history as the first Black person to win an Academy Award in Best Costume Design for the film, Black Panther. She received a second Academy Award in the same category for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Ruth E. Carter’s ability to develop an authentic story through costume and character made her one of the most sought after and renowned costume designers today. Best known for turning the Black Panther superhero into an African king, Carter is the first Black woman to win multiple Academy Awards in any category and the first costume designer to win for the first film and its sequel. Carter is known for her research and diligence to the craft of costume design, specifically for her work on films such as Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, Steven Spielberg’s Amistad and Ava DuVernay’s Selma.

The Hidden Gifts of Visual Thinkers with Dr. Temple Grandin

Wednesday, April 3 at 7 PM CST

Join us on Zoom for a special event with Dr. Grandin, one of the world’s most accomplished and well-known adults with autism. Dr. Grandin has been at the forefront of research and activism for autism and neurodiversity for decades.

Her memoir, Emergence: Labeled Autistic, was published in 1986 and she has continued to write about autism and neurodivergence over the decades. Her most recent book is Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions.

Dr. Grandin’s research and understanding of animal behavior spearheaded a reform in the quality of life for agricultural animals worldwide.

The Many Lives of Kal Penn

Tuesday, May 7 at 7 PM

Kal Penn is an actor, writer, producer, and former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He is known for his starring roles in Designated Survivor, House, Mira Nair’s The Namesake, the Harold & Kumar franchise, and the Christmas comedy The Santa Clauses for Disney+.

From 2009 to 2011, Kal took a sabbatical from acting to serve in the Obama/Biden administration, where he served as the President’s Liaison to Young Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the Arts community. In these roles, he worked on a range of issues, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Affordable Care Act, Pell Grants, arts and culture programs, the DREAM Act, and rapid response to the BP Oil Spill and earthquake in Haiti.


He was a national co-chair for the Obama/Biden re-election campaign in 2012 and served on the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, focusing on arts education and cultural diplomacy, including the first-ever US Government arts delegation to Cuba. Penn has taught courses at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles (U of C, LA). Originally from New Jersey, he received his undergraduate degree in sociology, theater, film, and television at the U of C LA, and received a graduate certificate in international security from Stanford University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Earlier in the year, Penn wrapped production on the Bloomberg Green climate change docuseries, Getting Warmer, and the Viacom/Paramount + comedy, Surina & Mel. Following the departure of Trevor Noah from The Daily Show, Kal was named as an upcoming guest host. 

Season 3 Past Events

The Power of Story with Colson Whitehead

Kicking off our third season, we hosted two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author Colson Whitehead to our Illinois libraries. The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad, The Nickel Boys, The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and a collection of essays, Whitehead is only the fourth writer to win two Pulitzers in the Fiction category (for Underground Railroad in 2018 and The Nickel Boys in 2020). His latest bestselling novel, Harlem Shuffle, was published in 2021.


Chills & Thrills with Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians and Don’t Fear the Reaper. He has been an NEA fellowship recipient and been the recipient of several awards including: the Ray Bradbury Award from the Los Angeles Times, the Bram Stoker Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Jesse Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, and the Alex Award from American Library Association. He is the Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Food Family & Folktales: A Conversation with Grace Lin

The season continues with Food, Family, and Folktales: A Conversation with Grace Lin, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author/illustrator of picture books, early readers, and middle-grade novels. 

Lin was recognized in 2016 by President Obama’s office as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling and, in 2022, was awarded the Children’s Literature Legacy Award from the American Library Association. Her work received the Chinese American Librarians Association Annual Best Book Award.


A Taste of Love with Maya-Camille Broussard

Broussard uses her love of food to positively impact the local community. She offers an “I Knead Love” workshop several times yearly for children from lower-income communities to learn basic cooking skills, healthy eating habits, and nutrition. She founded Justice of the Pies in 2014, to honor her late father, The Pie Master. The bakery with a social mission has partnered with many Chicago area charities to provide meals for communities on the South and West sides and with Frontline Foods, to provide food from restaurants for front-line workers during the COVID pandemic.

Surviving the Holidays with Lori Gottlieb 

Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, and co-host of the “Dear Therapists” podcast shared stress reducing tools to help in everyday life, especially as we prepare for the holidays. Gottlieb is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, which has sold over a million copies and is currently being adapted into a television series. In addition to her clinical practice, she is co-host of the popular “Dear Therapists” podcast and writes The Atlantic’s “Dear Therapist” advice column. She has been on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, and NPR’s “Fresh Air” as a therapy expert and her 2019 TED Talk was one of the most watched of the year. 

Experience The Nutcracker at Home

Get in the spirit of the season with a recorded virtual performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker performed by the United Kingdom’s internationally renowned Royal Ballet. With sumptuous period designs, spellbinding stage effects, and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, the 2016 performance of The Nutcracker will enchant audiences of all ages. Performed by Britain's flagship ballet company, registrants can expect to see some of the most elite ballerinas in this performance.

Speculating about Our AI Future with Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells 

This panel discussion featured three best-selling science fiction writers, Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells. They will discussed the promise, perils, and possible impacts that AI will have on our future, as well as AI in contemporary and future science fiction writing.

A Conversation with Jerry Craft:
From Mama’s Boyz to New Kid and Beyond

Learn about life, art, and telling your story with bestselling author, illustrator, and syndicated cartoonist, Jerry Craft. Join us for a conversation about his works and journey to success, including a drawing demo that will be fun for the whole family!

Jerry Craft is the author-illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novels New Kid, and its companion book, Class Act. New Kid was the first book in history to win the Newbery Medal (2020), The Coretta Scott King Author Award (2020), and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature (2019). In his latest book, School Trip, Jerry hopes to share his love of travel in order to inspire kids and their families to see the world and embrace new cultures. Craft is also the creator of Mama’s Boyz, an award-winning comic strip which won the African American Literary Award five times. He is a co-founder of the Schomburg Center’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival.

Romance and Regency with Bridgerton's Julia Quinn 

Julia Quinn, the #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning romance author, has written close to 40 novels including her popular series about the Bridgerton family which was adapted into an Emmy-nominated series on Netflix. Her newest novel, Queen Charlotte, is co-written with television pioneer Shonda Rhimes. It’s a powerful and romantic novel of Bridgerton’s Queen Charlotte and King George III’s great love story and how it sparked a societal shift. 

Quinn has been inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame and was recently named the national ambassador for EveryLibrary, an organization that helps libraries fight censorship. Quinn’s novels have been translated into 41 languages and have appeared on The New York Times bestseller list 19 times. 

Previous Season Events

Season 2 | 2022-23

Braiding Sweetgrass: A Conversation with Robin Wall Kimmerer   


Wed, Jun 21, 2023


A Conversation with Jesmyn Ward   


Tue, Jun 6, 2023


On Being Fabulous with Jonathan Van Ness & Kristi Yamaguchi 

Wed, May 17, 2023


Drawing Comics with Jarrett J. Krosoczka 


Sat, May 6, 2023

Will Shortz: Secrets of a Puzzle Master  


Tue, Apr 25, 2023


Danny Trejo Talks Tacos, Hollywood, & Redemption  


Tue, Apr 4, 2023


The Weird & Wonderful World with Mary Roach  

with Annalee Newitz

Wed, Mar 1, 2023


Kwame Alexander: Saying Yes to Your Story 


Wed, Feb 8, 2023

A Conversation with Ross Gay 

with Dan "Sully" Sullivan

Wed, Jan 11, 2023


A Conversation with Shauna Sever 

with Louisa Chu

Tue, Dec 13, 2022


A Conversation with Caitlin Doughty 

with Mark Bazer

Wed, Nov 16, 2022


Marlee Matlin: From Oscar to West Wing and Beyond


Wed, Sep 17, 2022

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