PLA National Conference Speakers to Include Nicholas D. Kristof and Sarah Vowell

Contact: Kathleen M. Hughes

Public Library Association

For Immediate Release,

August 4, 2009

CHICAGO - Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Nicholas D. Kristof will keynote the Opening General Session at the Public Library Association's 13th National Conference, "PLA 2010."

Kristof graduated from Harvard College, Phi Beta Kappa, and then won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he studied law and graduated with first-class honors. He later studied Arabic in Cairo and Chinese in Taipei. After working in France, he caught the travel bug and began backpacking around Africa and Asia, writing articles to cover his expenses. Kristof has lived on four continents, reporting on six, and traveled to 140 countries, plus all 50 states, every Chinese province and every main Japanese island. He is also one of the very few Americans to be at least a two-time visitor to every member of the “Axis of Evil.” During his travels, he has had unpleasant experiences with malaria, wars, an Indonesian mob carrying heads on pikes and an African airplane crash.

After joining The New York Times in 1984, initially covering economics, he served as a correspondent in Los Angeles and as bureau chief in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tokyo. In 2000, he covered the presidential campaign and in particular then-Governor Bush, and he is the author of the chapter on Bush in the reference book “The Presidents.”

In 1990 Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, then also a Times journalist, won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China’s Tiananmen Square democracy movement. They were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer for journalism. Kristof and WuDunn are also authors of “China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power” and “Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia.” Their next book, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” will be published in September 2009.

Haunted by what he has seen in Darfur, Kristof has traveled to the region four times to provide coverage of the genocide that is unfolding there. In 2006, he won his second Pulitzer Prize for Commentary "for his graphic, deeply reported columns that, at personal risk, focused attention on genocide in Darfur and that gave voice to the voiceless in other parts of the world.” He has also won the George Polk Award, the Overseas Press Club award, the Michael Kelly award, the Online News Association award and the American Society of Newspaper Editors award.

Bestselling author, social observer and contributor to "This American Life," Sarah Vowell, is scheduled to keynote the closing session at the conference. Vowell is the author of four bestselling books and has been a contributing editor at National Public Radio’s "This American Life" since 1996. Vowell's book “Assassination Vacation” (2005) is a hilarious and haunting road trip to tourist sites devoted to the murders of presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. She is also the author of the essay collections “The Partly Cloudy Patriot” (2002), “Take the Cannoli” (2000) and “Radio On” (1997), a diary of a year spent listening to American radio. Her fifth book, “The Wordy Shipmates,” a history of American Puritans, was published in 2008. She is currently at work on her next book, a history of 19th century Hawaii (Spring 2011).

In addition to these sessions, the conference will feature more than 150 continuing education programs, more than 800 exhibiting companies, talk tables, author events, networking functions and more. The conference will be held in Portland, Ore., March 23-27, 2010; registration opens in the fall.

For more information visit or phone 1 –(800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA.