Category Archives: Oklahoma Book Festival

Oklahoma Center for the Book Cancels Two Big Literary Events for 2021

February 26, 2021

Contact: Connie Armstrong • 405-522-3242

The Oklahoma Center for the Book in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries is canceling the 2021 Oklahoma Book Award Dinner and Oklahoma Book Festival

(This press release is available for download in Word and PDF formats.)

The Annual Oklahoma Book Award competition continues in 2021 for the 32nd year, but award recipients won’t be picking up their medals at an in-person ceremony this spring. For the second year in a row, the Oklahoma Center for the Book in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) is canceling the awards dinner. Winners will be announced and recognized online. The Center is also canceling the Oklahoma Book Festival, which was planned for the fall.

Connie Armstrong, Executive Director of the Center, said there are too many uncertainties surrounding the Pandemic to move forward with these events.

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The 2020 Oklahoma Book Festival has been Canceled

The 2020 Oklahoma Book Festival, scheduled for November 14, has been cancelled by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) and festival organizers due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Connie Armstrong, executive director of ODL’s Oklahoma Center for the Book, and Vicki Mohr, administrator of ODL’s Office of Library Development, made the announcement in a joint statement:

“This was a difficult decision but we believe it is in the best interest of Oklahoma book lovers. It is simply too risky to have any type of in-person event right now, even with safety precautions. Additionally, we do not feel a completely virtual book festival would garner enough audience participation to warrant the costs necessary to put on such programming. The pandemic is also making fundraising and partner recruitment more difficult for non-profits and community events at this time. We are disappointed, but remain enthusiastic about the future of the Oklahoma Book Festival program. Please look for information in the coming months on a 2021 festival.”

Did you miss this at the Book Festival?

With all of the crowds, presentations, activities, and book signings going on at the Oklahoma Book Festival on October 20, you may have missed our signs saluting Ida Sutton Williams. Ida’s daughter Laurie Williams was a major sponsor of the festival, and it was her desire to honor her mother, who once dreamed that Oklahoma would have its very own book festival. Below, see the photos and the biography from the signs outside the festival’s Headliner Tent and Entertainment Zone.

Photos of Ida Sutton Williams
Ida Sutton Williams from early days to life as a civic and cultural leader in Ardmore. Click the image above to see a larger graphic.

The Oklahoma Book Festival’s Headliner Tent and Entertainment Zone are named in honor of Ida Sutton Williams, former member and board chair of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Williams was an enthusiastic advocate of libraries and reading, and a tireless civic and cultural leader in Ardmore, Oklahoma. 

Selected as “Outstanding Girl” by the 1950 graduating class at Ardmore High School, Williams left Oklahoma to pursue her education at Smith College in North Hampton, Massachusetts, where she graduated in 1954 with a degree in education and religious studies. She also attended classes at the University of Oklahoma, where she was initiated into the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Following her marriage to James W. Williams, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she attended graduate school at George Washington University. 

Williams returned to Ardmore, with her beloved husband Jim and their bright, humorous daughter Laurie, where she followed her lifetime passions of community service, philanthropy, and politics. Known affectionately as “Ida Red” by those closest to her, she was truly a “Renaissance Woman.” 

Williams reflected later in life that she realized as a young person the importance of the honor system; to read and listen to a variety of thoughts, opinions, and positions; to see, study, and meditate to find answers; to use a direct source if possible such as Plato or The Federalist Papers, rather than a secondhand or textbook opinion; and to question, to think for yourself, and to have the courage to rely upon your own opinions. She also understood the importance of interdisciplinary studies, stating “what a person learns from history can be applied to art, government, ethics, science, etc.—for in human life there is an interconnectedness among all things.”

The Ida Sutton Williams Headliner Tent and Entertainment Zone honor the many local library boards and friends groups, city and county officials, and civic leaders who understand that libraries make a profound and lasting impact on the life of the individual as well as communities.

Oklahoma’s Inaugural Book Festival by the Numbers

Costumed characters from Jedi OKC and the 501st Legion added to the fun of the Oklahoma Book Festival. See more photos from the festival.

A rain-soaked Friday, October 19—that almost made planners push the panic button—gave way to a sunny and successful Oklahoma Book Festival on Saturday, October 20, in Oklahoma City’s Boathouse District.

A book festival the state could call its own has long been a dream of Oklahoma’s literary community. Budget cuts that effectively slashed ODL’s number of employees by more than 50% over the past two decades didn’t bode well for the agency and its Oklahoma Center for the Book (OCB) to take on such an endeavor.

But take two determined employees (Vicki Mohr, administrator of ODL’s Office of Library Development, and Connie Armstrong, OCB Director), an agency director willing to use federal LSTA funds to help fund the project (Susan McVey), some influential and generous sponsors and partners, some enthusiastic volunteers, and a host of willing authors and illustrators…well, you get a book festival!

Let’s take a look at the successful event by the numbers…

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Inaugural Oklahoma Festival Celebrates Books, Authors, and Readers

Young People on a Boat with Books


This press release, promotional photos, event logo, portrait shots of the three headliners, and selected book jacket graphics may be downloaded at

Contact: Bill Young, Public Information Manager
Oklahoma Department of Libraries
w: 405-522-3562
c: 405-370-3750

Authors, poets, illustrators, and readers of all ages will convene at Oklahoma City’s Boathouse District on Saturday, October 20 for the inaugural Oklahoma Book Festival. More than 50 writers, including national bestselling authors, will be in attendance at the event, which organizers hope will become the largest literary festival in the state.

Patterned after the annual National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., Oklahoma’s literary gathering will be filled with presentations, author panels, story times, craft activities, poetry readings, entertainment, book sales, and book signings.

Headliners for the festival include David Grann, author of the New York Times bestseller, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI; Edgar Award-winning mystery and suspense novelists Meg Gardiner (Into the Black Nowhere and Unsub) and Lou Berney (November Road and The Long and Faraway Gone); and illustrator Jerry Bennett, whose clients include Stan Lee, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Mattel and Dreamworks.

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