These events are made possible by Illinois Libraries Present, a statewide collaboration among 200+ public libraries—including Oak Park Public Library—offering high-quality events for participating member libraries of all sizes and budgets. Read more below about this pilot program »
Save the date for an evening with Marlee Matlin
Illinois Libraries Present season two kicks off September 14 with Academy-Award-winning actress, author, and activist Marlee Matlin.
The rest of the season promises a mix of best-selling authors, including young adult authors, well-known speakers across fields, cookbook authors, and more!
Event held Wednesday, June 22
Join us for an engaging evening with chef Kwame Onwuachi. His first cookbook, My America: Recipes From a Young Black Chef, celebrates the cuisine of the African diaspora, “the world’s wisest food.” He’ll share the importance of the connections between cuisine, place, and culture. Chef Erick Williams of Virtue Restaurant joins him in conversation.
About Kwame Onwuachi
Kwame Onwuachi is a James Beard Award-winning chef who was born on Long Island and raised in New York City, Nigeria, and Louisiana. Onwuachi was first exposed to cooking by his mother, in the family’s modest Bronx apartment, and he took that spark of passion and turned it into a career. He trained at the Culinary Institute of America and opened five restaurants before turning thirty. A former Top Chef contestant, he has been named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef 2019 and a 30 Under 30 honoree by both Zagat and Forbes. Onwuachi’s 2019 memoir, Notes From a Young Black Chef, received critical acclaim.
About Erick Williams
Erick Williams is Owner and Executive Chef at Virtue Restaurant in Chicago, and a Chicago native with a storied career. From his time as Executive Chef at mk to hosting James Beard Foundation dinners, Williams has become ingrained in the restaurant community alongside fellow leaders of the industry. Outside the kitchen, Williams donates his time and talent to those less fortunate by partnering with charities to share his vast knowledge and give back.
Jessamine Chan & Emily Maloney
Event held Wednesday, May 25
Join Jessamine Chan and Emily Maloney for a discussion about the systems of power that impact our lives, our families, and our finances, through the lens of their acclaimed books, The School for Good Mothers and Cost of Living.
About Jessamine Chan
Jessamine Chan is the New York Times bestselling author of The School for Good Mothers, her debut novel. Her short stories have appeared in Tin House and Epoch. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and lives in Chicago with her family.
About Emily Maloney
Emily Maloney is the author of Cost of Living, a collection of essays. Her work has appeared in Glamour, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Best American Essays, among others. She holds an MFA from The University of Pittsburgh and lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her partner and their dog.
Nick Offerman & Jeff Tweedy
Event held Wednesday, April 27
Join us for actor/humorist/woodworker Nick Offerman, in conversation with musician/hiking buddy Jeff Tweedy.
About Nick Offerman
Best known for his breakout role as Ron Swanson in the hit TV series Parks and Recreation, actor and New York Times bestselling author Nick Offerman, originally of Minooka, Ill., will be discussing his newest book, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside.
About Jeff Tweedy
Jeff Tweedy is a musician, songwriter, author, and record producer best known as the singer and guitarist of the band Wilco. Originally from Belleville, Ill., Tweedy has released 20 studio albums across his career and is the author of two books, including How to Write One Song: Loving the Things We Create and How They Love Us Back.
Event held Wednesday, March 30
Award-winning humorist Jenny Lawson discusses her most recent bestseller, Broken (in the Best Possible Way), and her brilliantly funny body of work. Author R. Eric Thomas (Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America) joins her in conversation.
About Jenny Lawson
Jenny is an American journalist, author, and blogger known for her great candor in sharing her struggle with mental illness. “The Bloggess” lives in Texas with her husband and daughter and was constantly “buying too many books” (“Not a real thing,” she insists), so she decided to skip the middleman and just started her own bookshop, which also serves booze because books and booze are what magic is made of. She has previously written Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy, both of which were #1 New York Times bestsellers. She would like to be your friend unless you’re a real asshole. (And yes, she realizes this paragraph is precisely the reason she shouldn’t be allowed to write her own bio.)
Event held Wednesday, February 16
Dubbed one of romance’s brightest new voices, bestselling author Jasmine Guillory will discuss her newest novel, While We Were Dating, and the modern rom-com. Author Morgan Rogers (Honey Girl) will join her in conversation.
About Jasmine Guillory
Jasmine Guillory is a writer, lawyer, and New York Times bestselling author of six romance novels, including The Wedding Date, The Proposal, and While We Were Dating. NPR called The Proposal, “Rollicking, charming, and infinitely zesty.” Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Bon Appetit, and Time. She lives in Oakland, California where she has a towering stacks of books in her living room, a cake recipe for every occasion, and upwards of 50 lipsticks.
Event held Wednesday, January 26
The bestselling and award-winning author of Mexican Gothic discusses her newest book, Velvet Was the Night, and her genre-defying mashups of cultural noir and Lovecraftian horror. Velvet Was the Night is one of The New York Times‘ 100 Notable Books of 2021. Silvia Moreno-Garcia will be joined in conversation with author Gus Moreno.
About Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Moreno-Garcia is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed novels Certain Dark Things, Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed novels Certain Dark Things, Gods of Jade and Shadow, and Mexican Gothic, which Vanity Fair called “[An] irresistibly dark feminist reimagining of the Gothic fantasy novel.” Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination, Moreno-Garcia has edited several anthologies and is a columnist for The Washington Post.
About Gus Morena
Gus Moreno is the author of This Thing Between Us. His favorite books are American Psycho, Battle Royale, and Under the Skin. He lives in the suburbs with his wife and dogs, but never think that he’s not from Chicago.
Event held Thursday, June 30
Join us for an evening with musician and author Michelle Zauner as she discusses her music career and her beloved bestselling memoir, Crying in H Mart. Jessica Hopper joins her in conversation.
About Michelle Zauner
Michelle Zauner is best known as a singer and guitarist who creates dreamy, shoegaze-inspired indie pop under the name Japanese Breakfast. She has won acclaim from major music outlets around the world for releases like Psychopomp (2016) and Soft Sounds From Another Planet (2017). Critically acclaimed Jubilee (2021) is currently nominated for two Grammy awards. Crying in H Mart is her first book.
About Jessica Hopper
Jessica Hopper is a music critic, producer, and author based in Chicago. In a career spanning more than 20 years, Hopper has earned acclaim as a provocative, fearless music journalist. She has written for, among others, GQ, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Elle, and the Chicago Reader. She is the author of The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic and co-founded Golden Teapot, a production company specializing in music and culture documentary work.
*This event has been rescheduled due to a scheduling conflict with the author. Michelle and her band, Japanese Breakfast, were asked to perform on Saturday Night Live on Saturday, May 21, and Michelle was no longer able to honor her May 18 event date. After working with the booking agents, the event was rescheduled for Thursday, June 30 at 7 pm. If you have previously registered for this event, you should have received an email with the updated date. The Zoom link to join remains the same. We apologize for any inconvenience.
About Illinois Libraries Present
A new pilot program now consisting of 200 public libraries across the state, Illinois Libraries Present’s founding members are feeling it is “one good to come out of the pandemic.” The pilot has two Oak Park librarians on board, working together with other great library minds and state resources “to provide high-quality online events at equitable prices for participating member libraries of all sizes and budgets. We connect communities and audiences across the state through shared event experiences.”
To start, the planning group’s goals include:
- To provide high-quality, high-profile events that highlight national names and social justice/diversity, equity and inclusion issues, that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive for single libraries to hold on their own.
- To reduce costs and maximize reach by taking advantage of both virtual event platforms and the collective buying power of Illinois public libraries.
- To allow access for all libraries as equitably as possible, by aligning each library’s cost to participate with the size of their operating budget.
- To define clear and distinct roles among Illinois Libraries Present committees and the participating libraries, including patron contact points, marketing, invoicing, etc.
The group also is committed to inclusion and accessibility. To request accommodations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.