County library hosts free book festival

All-ages event includes authors, performers, storytellers and more

The Burlington County Book Festival will be held at the county library in Westampton from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.

“We have a ton of activities going on throughout the day,” said Jessica Farrell, chief of communications for the Burlington County Library System (BCLS).

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Co-hosted by the BCLS and its foundation, the all-ages festival is an opportunity for visitors to discover new books and authors while rediscovering all the resources that the BCLS has to offer.

“Last year was the first time we ever did a book festival here at the Westampton library,” Farrell said. “This year we wanted to tie it into National Library Week, which is April 7 through the 13th.”

Activities are expected to include live drawing sessions with Jay Cooper and Mike Dawson, and children’s author Alliah Agostini will address the history of Juneteenth and her personal connection to the holiday. Storyteller, musician and vocalist TAHIRA will share tales of freedom fighters and the Underground Railroad, and the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers will perform “Yah-Oh-Way” (“It is Good”) to highlight the origins and meanings of songs, dances and traditions in many North American tribes.

“ … We have somebody talking about the history of the Twin Towers …” Farrell noted. “We have a photographer who photographs endangered species. We have Kim Kelly, who is (in) labor journalism …

“On top of that, we also have dozens of authors who will be here who you can meet.”

Last year’s festival drew more than 700 people, and 2024 will be no different, according to Farrell.

“We’re expecting about the same this year,” she said. “With the authors, there’s children’s authors, adult authors. We just have a ton of genres. We have mystery, fantasy, romance, nonfiction, memoirs, so it’s pretty much what anyone is looking for, we’ll have it here at the festival.”

This year’s presenting festival sponsors are the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and Holman. Event sponsors are PSEG, Amazon and TD Bank.

“We do think there’s been a bit more buzz around it this year,” Farrell pointed out. “People know about it, they know what to expect. So I think we’re going to have an even bigger turnout this year than we did last year.”

The county library system’s 70,000-square-foot main library in Westampton features a children’s area, teen zone, meeting space, a 250-seat auditorium and a drive-up window and cafe, according to its site. BCLS card-holders have access to more than one million items, including books, magazines, DVDs and CDs.

Online resources include eBooks, audio books, streaming entertainment and an array of online resources and learning tools. The mission of the BCLS is to enrich lives by providing opportunities for learning, growth and personal development, Farrell pointed out.

“I’m just looking for everybody to have a great time again, and I’m really excited to see the featured performers that we have this year,” Farrell said of the free book festival. “We have such a wide variety of different types of people coming that it’s going to be really great to see the types of crowds that they bring in.

“I just think it’s such a great event for the community,” she added. “It’s completely free to get in, and then once you’re here, you can buy books, you can just walk around, get an autograph or two if you want. So I’m just really looking forward to the event in general.”

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