ALA Auditorium Speaker Series welcomes nine dynamic authors

Contact: Karee Williams

ALA Conference Services



For Immediate Release

February 19, 2009

(CHICAGO) The American Library Association (ALA) Auditorium Speaker Series will feature nine distinguished speakers. Â

This year’s lineup includes Gregory Maguire, James Van Praagh, Michael Connelly, Wanda Urbanska, Junot Diaz, Melba Pattillo Beals, Lisa Scottoline, Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. and Cokie Roberts. Â More will be announced.

The series is part of the ALA Annual Conference, held from July 9-15 in Chicago.

Gregory Maguire will kick off the series at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 11. He is the bestselling author of “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister,” “Lost,” “Mirror, Mirror” and the Wicked Years, a series that includes “Wicked,” “Son of a Witch” and “A Lion Among Men.” Now a beloved classic, “Wicked,” is the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name.

Maguire has lectured on art, literature and culture both at home and abroad. He is also a board member of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance, a national not-for-profit organization that advocates for literacy, literature and libraries.

Saturday’s series continues at 1:30 p.m. with
James Van Praagh, a spiritual medium and New York Times bestselling author. Van Praagh has written several books based on his unique paranormal experiences, including “Talking to Heaven” and “Meditation with James Van Praagh.” His latest book is “Unfinished Business: What the Dead Can Teach Us about Life.” Van Praagh has also produced a number of television programs, including the hit primetime series, “Ghost Whisperer.”

At 8 a.m. on Sunday, July 12, the series welcomes
Michael Connelly, bestselling author of the Harry Bosch series of novels, as well as “The Poet,” “Blood Work,” “Void Moon,” “Chasing the Dime” and the number one New York Times bestseller “The Lincoln Lawyer.” Connelly is a former newspaper reporter who has won several awards for his journalism and novels.

Next up at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday is
Wanda Urbanska, an expert, speaker and consultant on sustainability and green living. Urbanska is the author or co-author of seven books, including the forthcoming anthology “Less is More: Embracing Simplicity for a Healthy

Planet, A Caring Economy and Lasting Happiness,” “Simple Living,” “Moving to a Small Town” and “Nothing’s Too Small to make a Difference.”

Urbanska is also the host and producer of “Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska,” a nationally syndicated public television series on selected PBS stations nationwide. O, The Oprah Magazine recently identified her as “the de facto Martha Stewart of the voluntary simplicity movement.”

Sunday’s sessions will come to a close at 1:30 p.m. with author
Junot Diaz. Diaz’s collection of short stories, “Drown,” was one of the first books to illuminate the lives of Dominican-American immigrants. Diaz’s first novel, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” is the winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The New Yorker magazine placed him on a list of the 20 top writers for the 21st century.

Monday’s series will open at 8 a.m. on July 13 with the Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC) President’s Program, featuring
Melba Pattillo Beals. At the age of 15, Beals was one of the nine courageous students who faced down furious segregationists, the Arkansas National Guard and the Governor of Arkansas in order to integrate Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

Beals has written two bestselling books as a result of her experience, “Warriors Don’t Cry: a Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock Central High School,” and “White is a State of Mind: Freedom is Yours to Choose.” Beals is currently professor and chair of the Communications Department at Dominican University of California.

Monday’s series continues with
Lisa Scottoline at 10:30 a.m., author of “Lady Killer,” “Daddy’s Girl” and “Dirty Blonde.” Scottoline’s bestselling novels, set in Philadelphia and featuring gutsy and resilient female characters, have thrilled and entertained readers with page-turning action and her trademark wit and humor.

Next up at 1:30 p.m. on Monday is
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. As a neuroanatomist, Dr. Taylor has spent her life studying and teaching others about the complex beauty of the human brain. But one morning, her life took an unexpected turn when she experienced a massive stroke. In her book “My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey,” Dr. Taylor tells of her unique journey into and back out of the silent abyss of the wounded brain.

At 5 p.m. on Monday, the Public Library Association (PLA) President’s Program will feature
Cokie Roberts. Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News and a senior news analyst for National Public Radio. In addition to broadcasting, Roberts, along with her husband Steven V. Roberts, wrote the bestselling “From This Day Forward,” an account of their now more than 40-year marriage and other marriages in American history.

Roberts is also the author of three bestselling books about women in American history, “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters,” “Ladies of Liberty,” and its companion volume, “Founding Mothers.”

For more information about the 2009 ALA Annual Conference, the Auditorium Speaker Series and other special programs and events, visit the Annual Conference Web site at