This week, more than 300 rare book and manuscripts librarians and several dozen book dealers will descend on Baton Rouge for a four-day conference, hosted in part by the LSU Libraries.

Titled “In the Hurricane’s Eye: Challenges of Collecting in the 21st Century,” the conference is the 52nd annual event held by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association.

The conference will kick off on Tuesday, June 21, with a “Booksellers’ Showcase” featuring 42 members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, who will display selections of their wares in the Riverview Ballroom of the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center. The showcase is open only to conference attendees; a one-day registration is available for $65.

On Thursday, June 23, attendees will be on the LSU campus attending sessions and enjoying tours of Hill Memorial Library, the LSU Historic Textile Museum, the LSU Museum of Natural History, and a virtual tour of the LSU campus provided by Michael Desmond of the School of Architecture. The day will end with a tour and picnic at the LSU Rural Life Museum.

In addition to these fun and educational events, the conference will include sessions on a serious theme. In the last several years, special collections and archives have assumed a new and more prominent role within their host institutions as well as in the wider library community. Once perceived as peripheral to core library services, special collections are now often viewed as central because of the unique materials they hold. Because of this centrality, they now face a perfect storm of increasing needs in a time of decreasing support.

Librarians and archivists collect materials in many formats from past centuries, which all have special needs for physical storage space, preservation, and access. The 21st century offers a new set of evolving challenges. Demographics in the United States and elsewhere are shifting dramatically, and use of digital technologies is changing what makes up the historical record, in both format and content. In a time of severely diminishing support for cultural heritage organizations, librarians are challenged to capture records of the evanescent “now” while continuing to document the recent past.

“In the Hurricane’s Eye” will focus on current work in the profession, both theoretical and practical, that can be used for modeling possible solutions to such challenges, helping librarians and archivists to weather the storm and fulfill their obligation as stewards of the cultural record. Presenters and attendees will address a spectrum of issues that include negotiating collection development for digital collections, collecting across cultural divides, generating buy-in and support from our proliferating audiences, and considering how “uniqueness” and artifactual value will change in an age of born-digital objects. For more information see the conference website at http://www.rbms.info/conferences/preconferences/2011/index.shtml.

Tornado recovery benefit

Books-A-Million, 10533 S. Mall Drive in Siegen Marketplace, is holding a disaster recovery book drive, “Rebuild with Books,” to collect inventory for the schools and libraries that were destroyed by the devastating storms in Alabama. All Book Fair donations the store receives will go toward rebuilding and restocking libraries in Birmingham, Ala., specifically the Pratt City Branch of the Birmingham Public library. Donations will be accepted through July 15.

HeartLa meeting

HeartLa, the Baton Rouge chapter of Romance Writers of America, will hold its monthly meeting from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 25, at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library-Bluebonnet branch, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd. Membership is open to writers of all genres. Guests may attend two meetings before becoming members. This month, Baton Rouge author Nancy S. Brandt will discuss self-editing and grammar.

Film screening

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, Casa Azul Gifts, 232 Martin Luther King Drive in Grand Coteau, will show the documentary, Abel Raises Cain by Jenny Able and Jeff Hockett.

Small-Time Cinema brings this documentary which looks into the life and bizarre career of Alan Abel, the infamous underground media prankster who has made a name for himself several times over with stunts that are just ridiculous enough to be believable, especially to a media that feeds on salacious, far-fetched stories. Alan’s daughter, Jenny, gives her firsthand account of what it was like growing up with a prankster, and the film takes the audience on a roller coaster ride through the myriad of elaborate hoaxes and schemes that Abel pulled off over the years, all of which were designed to provoke and amuse while at the same time, make people question everything that they see, hear and read. The filmmakers will be present to answer questions after the screening.

EBR Parish Library

A fiction reading by Tim Parrish and a discussion of the anthology, Best of LSU Fiction, by editors Nolde Alexius and Judy Kahn, will take place at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 23. Parrish is author of the short-story collection Red Stick Men. For more information, call (225) 763-2240.

Author and illustrator Will Hillenbrand will explain his writing and illustrating process and books to adults and children ages 2-11 at the Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., at 10 a.m. Friday, June 24.

Hillenbrand uses an “idea journal” so the audience can witness how his rough sketches grow as he works, including the tricky parts of book-making. Attendees will see where his ideas come from and how he turns them into stories and books. His books include Traveling to Tondo, Counting Crocodiles, Coyote and the Fire Stick and The House That Drac Built.

For more information or to register, call (225) 231-3760.

Hear some famous tunes, learn the parts of the violin and bow, and even hold a violin at the Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd. Ruth Roland will demonstrate classical violin as well as fiddle techniques in this entertaining and educational presentation to children ages 11 and under at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 22. For more information, call (225) 231-3760.

Book clubs

- Like It ? Or Not Book Club will meet at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 25, at Pride-Chaneyville branch, 13600 Pride-Port Hudson Road. Members will discuss She Who Remembers by Linda Lay Shuler.

- Scotlandville Book Club will meet at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at Scotlandville branch, 7373 Scenic Highway. Members will discuss Life on the Color Line by Gregory Howard Williams.

Audubon Regional Library

Audubon Regional Library will welcome “Calliope Puppets” to entertain young people of all ages on Wednesday, June 22, beginning at 10:30 a.m. in Greensburg at the St. Helena branch, then at Clinton United Methodist Church Hall at 1 p.m. and lastly at the Jackson branch at 3 pm.

Calliope Puppets have been part of the Louisiana children’s summer reading tour since 1988, and Karen Konnerth has taken them from Indonesia to Galveston, and to regional conferences from Brookline, Mass., to Houma. The Calliope Puppets are handmade puppets who tell traditional stories like “Puss and Boots” or “The Fisherman & his wife” and new stories like “Walls and Bridges.”

Ascension Parish Library

At 10:30 a.m. Monday, June 27, at the Donaldsonville branch, 500 Mississippi St., and at 2 p.m. at the Main branch, 708 S. Irma Blvd. in Gonzales, Herbie Thorpe, the creator of the Herbster Reader series, will emphasize the importance of books and reading by reading stories and talking about creating “Herbie Bear and the Herbster Reader Series.”

This program is designed for preschool and elementary age children and accompanying adults. For more information on the program, call the library in Donaldsonville at (225) 473-8052, in Dutchtown at (225) 673-8699, in Galvez at 622-3339, and in Gonzales at (225) 647-3955.

Wild Goose Chase Theatre will bring its “organic free-range puppetry” to the Ascension Parish Library on Monday, June 10. The troupe will appear at the Donaldsonville branch, 500 Mississippi St., at 10:30 a.m. and at the Galvez branch, 40300 La. 42, at 2 p.m. Call any library branch for information.

Poet and performer Allan Wolf will appear at the Donaldsonville branch, 500 Mississippi St., at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 24, and at the Galvez branch, 40300 La. 42, at 2 p.m. Friday, June 24. Wolf will recite classics as well as original and humorous verses. Call any library branch for information.

Livingston Parish Library

Louisiana storyteller Sherry Broussard will weave spectacular and amusing tales with the audience’s help. For ages 5-11.

Broussard will visit the Livingston Parish Library, Tuesday-Thursday, June 21-23. Her schedule is:

- 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 21^=Main branch, 13986 Florida Blvd.

- 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 21^=Albany-Springfield branch, 26941 La. 43, Hammond

- 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 22^=Denham Springs-Walker branch, 8101 U.S. 190 in Denham Springs

- 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 22^=Watson branch, 36581 Outback Road in Denham Springs

- 10 a.m. Thursday, June 23^=South branch, 23477 La. 444 in Livingston

Young Writer’s Club will meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, at Denham Springs-Walker branch, 8101 U.S. 190 in Denham Springs.

Book clubs:

- Eclectic Book Club will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, at Denham Springs-Walker Branch, 8101 U.S. 190 in Denham Springs. Members will discuss Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.

Lafayette Public Library

Photographers Jason Cohen and Jaime Orillion will hold a hands-on photography workshop for teens 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, at North Regional branch, 5101 N. University Ave. in Carencro.

Participants will be required to bring a digital camera or camera phone.

Explore the intriguing world of Sherlock Holmes this summer when library mystery sleuths meet on the third Tuesday of each month from 6:15 until 7:30 p.m. in the Conference Room. On Tuesday, June 21, the sleuths will discuss The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King. Attendees must be between the ages of 12 and 18 years old.

Signings

Jason Berry, author of Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, will sign copies of his book 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, at Garden District Book Shop, 2727 Prytania St. in New Orleans.

Michael Brown, author of Deadly Indifference: The Perfect (Political) Storm: Hurricane Katrina, The Bush White House, and Beyond, will sign copies of his book 6-7:30 p.m. Friday, June 24, at Garden District Book Shop, 2727 Prytania St. in New Orleans.

Mo Willems, author of Hooray For Amanda and Her Alligator! and Should I Share My Ice Cream, will sign copies of his book 3-5 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at Garden District Book Shop, 2727 Prytania St. in New Orleans.

Tomie DePaola, author of Strega Nona and Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise, will sign copies of his books 2:15-3:15 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at Maple Street Book Shop, 7523 Maple St. in New Orleans.

Keven Henkes, author of Little White Rabbit and Junonia, will sign copies of his book at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, June 25, at Maple Street Book Shop, 7523 Maple St. in New Orleans.

David Unger, author of Price of Escape, will sign copies of his book at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at the New Orleans Public Library Main branch, 219 Loyola Ave. in New Orleans.

Michael D. Brown, author of Deadly Indifference The Perfect (Political) Storm: Hurricane Katrina, the Bush White House, and Beyond, will sign copies of his book 3-4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at Maple Street Book Shop, 7523 Maple St. in New Orleans.

Alan Furst, author of Spies Of The Balkans, will sign copies of his books at 6 p.m. Monday, June 20, at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St. in New Orleans.

Sarah Dessen, author of What Happened to Goodbye, will sign copies of her book 1-2 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St. in New Orleans.

Lauren Myracle, author of Shine, will sign copies of her book at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St. in New Orleans.

Cassandra Clare, author of City of Fallen Angels, and Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks and Fallout, will sign copies of their books at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St. in New Orleans.

Items for Book Events were provided by LSU Libraries, Books-A-Million, HeartLa, Casa Azul, East Baton Rouge Parish Library, Audubon Regional Library, Ascension Parish Library, Livingston Parish Library and Lafayette Public Library.