Library Fest Showcases that Libraries Provide More than Just Books

Celebrating Local Chefs, Farmers and Restaurateurs

Anne Herbert, acclaimed journalist and author, once said that libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries. Library Fest, an annual celebration hosted by the Durham County Library, exemplifies this belief. The week-long event, supported by the Durham Library Foundation, showcases all the different ways the library can be a part of your life, at every stage.

The theme of this year’s event? Food.

An appropriate label for the city that has previously been hailed as “America’s Foodiest Small Town.” From Science of Coffee to story time at the Hub Farm, each event will celebrate local chefs, farmers and restaurateurs in Durham. The logo for the event is even designed by Anh-Tuan Tran, a local chef with a passion for graphic design.

The week will be bookended by keynote speakers Vivian Howard and Michael Twitty.

Howard, a chef, restaurateur, author and television host, will present a presentation at the Carolina Theater in Durham on April 18, 2022. Twitty, a writer, culinary historian and educator, will engage in a conversation with Duke University Professor Mark Anthony Neal and a public Q&A session at the Nasher Museum of Art on April 23, 2022.


Credit: Leander Croker

Beyond these events, Library Fest will involve all departments of the library, including childrens, teens, adults, outreach, business services, STEAM, hispanic services and accessibility.

“Library Fest is a way to reach people who may not be checking in with the library,” said Natalie Killion, adult services manager. She hopes Library Fest will bring in new people and let them know that the Library is here to support them.

Additionally, Library Fest is accessible for all Durham residents. Each event is open to the public and free of charge. To consider the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a mix of in-person and virtual events offered.

Compared to 2021, the inaugural year of Library Fest, this year is more community-based.

The Library is collaborating with local businesses such as The Parlour and Cocoa Cinnamon to host events. They’re even inviting the community to add their best recipes to a community cookbook that will be available later this year. The Library also received their first sponsor for the event this year: The Forest at Duke.

Credit: Leander Croker

Killion and Sara Stephens, development officer at the Library, hope Library Fest has a widespread impact on the library community and extended Durham community. At the Library, they hope to increase the number of library card registrations and see an increase in first-time registrants. Outside the library, they hope to increase awareness for all of the resources available at the library and break the stereotype that libraries are only for kids.

The second annual Library Fest would not be possible without the support of the Foundation.

This year, the organization provided $27,500 to support the event. Library Fest allows the Foundation to tell the story of the library, strengthen relationships with existing donors and bring in new donors. “Similar to how Susan Orlean describes libraries, Library Fest creates ‘a community living room’ that explores the cultural and economic impact of food, right where we live. It is the Foundation’s privilege to support a progressive Library that keeps us in reach of ‘world class,’” said Karen Wells, executive director of the Foundation.

For additional information and to save your seat for Vivian Howard and Michael Twitty, visit

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