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World’s Strongest Librarian to Speak at ALA Annual Conference

Josh Hanagarne, author of The World’s Strongest Librarian, will be the featured keynote speaker at the 2014 Bookmobile Saturday Author Luncheon, to be held from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 28, 2014 during the A.L.A. 2014 Annual Conference in Las Vegas, the ALA announced on Thursday, March 27, 2014. Hanagarne professes he fell in love with Fern from Charlotte's Web at age six.

"World's Strongest Librarian" Author Josh Hanagarne will speak at the ALA 2014 Annual Conference.
Suzy Steed of A Moment's Reflection Photography

Hanagarne and the A.L.A. state, “Every day since, he has enjoyed reading more than eating, sleeping and breathing. Today the 6-foot-7-inch Hanagarne is an author, speaker, performing strongman and, despite having an extreme case of Tourette Syndrome, he works as a public librarian in Salt Lake City.” His memoir, The World's Strongest Librarian, is his first book.

Tickets to the lunch are $25 and must be purchased online by Saturday, June 14, 2014, and will not be available at registration. Refer to Ticket ALA2 when registering at Space is limited. The participation of Hanagarne is made possible by Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA).

The Author Luncheon is part of Bookmobile Saturday, which gives attendees the opportunity to learn, gain inspiration, and build their networks, hosted by the A.L.A. Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (O.L.O.S.) and the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (A.B.O.S.). This will be an opportunity to learn about the trends, model practices and opportunities for professional involvement during two morning programs.

The first panel discussion, held from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., will highlight innovative programming ideas, issues, technologies, and best practices to engage bookmobile patrons of all ages. Following from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., representatives from the A.B.O.S. will discuss opportunities for bookmobile and outreach staff through professional development, growth, and networking through involvement with O.L.O.S. and A.B.O.S.

Following the luncheon, attendees can explore the latest bookmobiles during the Parade of Bookmobiles, held in conjunction with the 2014 Diversity and Outreach Fair.

The A.L.A. states, “Locations for all three Bookmobile Saturday events will be announced soon. For more information, and to register, please visit”

Last May, The New Yorker’s Jon Michaud contrasted Hanagarne with the stereotypical image of a librarian. “Few professions are as bedevilled by stereotypes as librarianship. Even in this digital age, when many librarians are busy rebranding themselves as ‘information scientists’ and ‘knowledge managers,’ an inaccurate image of the archetypal librarian persists in popular culture: a petite, humorless woman (always a woman) dressed in dowdy clothes, spectacles on her face, hair knotted in a bun, the radio of her Prius or Civic tuned to NPR, and a cat waiting for her at home…”

One of the pleasures of Josh Hanagarne’s new memoir, ‘The World’s Strongest Librarian,’ is the way it destroys this stereotype. Hanagarne, who works at the Salt Lake City Public Library, is six-feet-seven-inches tall and weighs two hundred and sixty pounds. He was raised as a Mormon, has extreme Tourette’s Syndrome (or Tourette Syndrome, as he calls it), and in his spare time trains for strongman competitions. The author photo in the back of his book indicates that his hair is too short to fit in a bun. Perhaps the only trait he shares with the received idea of his chosen profession is a love of reading and knowledge. ‘Like most librarians, I’m not well suited to anything else,’ he writes. ‘As a breed, we’re the ultimate generalists. I’ll never know everything about anything, but I’ll know something about almost everything.’

Lindsay Lowe interviewed Hanagarne and his wife, Janette, for Parade. Gotham Books published his book on May 2, 2013. When asked who he would like to see play him in a movie, he first joked Wanda Sykes, and then joked Tom Cruise, because the latter had just played Jack Reacher, a character described in the books as 6'5".

Gotham Books is a nonfiction imprint of Penguin Group (USA), which is one of the leading American adult and children’s trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks, including Berkley Books, Blue Rider, Dutton, Frederick Warne, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Gotham Books, Grosset & Dunlap, New American Library, Penguin, Penguin Press, Philomel, Riverhead Books, and Viking, among others. The Penguin Group is A Penguin Random House Company.

The mission of O.L.O.S. is to identify and promote library services that support equitable access to the knowledge and information stored in libraries. The O.L.O.S. states it “focuses attention on services that are inclusive of traditionally underserved populations and people generally discriminated against based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, language and social class. The Office ensures that training, information resources and technical assistance are available to help libraries and librarians develop effective strategies to grow programs and services for library users.”

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