Looking Ahead to 2020

By Fern Hallman, M. Ln.

In the words of my favorite (fictional) president, Jed Bartlet of "The West Wing," "What’s next?" Librarians are always looking ahead, wondering what will enchant and entice their patrons in the coming year.

So, what’s in store for us in 2020?

First of all, there will be very popular books written by the kind of very popular authors who write new books almost every year. People like James Patterson, Danielle Steel, Clive Cussler, Nora Roberts… Well, you know who they are. There will also be new biographies about people that we feel we already know, such as Diane Keaton, Lindsey Vonn, Alicia Keys, and Talib Kweli. Newt Gingrich will tell us more about politics, Rachel Maddow will school us on Spiro Agnew, and Bill Gates will explain the climate change issue. George R.R. Martin may or may not finish the next installment of "Game of Thrones."

2020 will bring some highly anticipated book releases. Many of our favorite authors have new novels coming out, including Isabel Allende, Ann Tyler, Terry McMillan, Sue Monk Kidd, Lisa Gardner, and Emma Straub. There are also lots of books written by our new soon-to-be favorite authors, including those on these lists:

Real Simple's Most Anticipated Books of 2020
Read it Forward's Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2020

Library patrons love to get ahead of the curve by reading books that are about to become movies or television series. Some of the titles expected on big and small screens next year include "Artemis Fowl," "Dune," "The Invisible Man," "The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle," and "Death on the Nile." There are many more on the way. Here are some highlights:

Book Riot: 12 Books to Read Before Their Upcoming Adaptations
Bibliophile: 40 Upcoming Adaptations

There are also several events and anniversaries that will affect book selection in 2020.

NASA will begin a new mission to Mars in July, when the earth and the Red Planet will be in optimal positions for the long journey. We can expect a lot of interest in this trip, which has a planned landing date in early 2021.

Speaking of Mars, now would be a good time to check your supply of books by Ray Bradbury, author of "The Martian Chronicles," since 2020 is the 100-year anniversary of his birth. Also born in that year was fellow science fiction-ist Isaac Asimov. Two other major book anniversaries will take place next year: both "The Age of Innocence" by Edith Wharton and "This Side of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald were published in 1920.

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games will take place in Tokyo in August. There are lots of books about Olympic history and trivia, biographies of notable Olympians, and of course, updated travel guides.

And oy vey, the 2020 Presidential elections will probably take a toll on all of us. No matter which side you’re on, it will probably be exhausting, and there will be at least 400 tell-alls published in the coming months. FYI, 2020 will be a leap year so we can all enjoy an extra day of heated discourse.

A lot of things were happening 100 years ago in 1920, and the publishing world will remind us about them all.

We can expect to see titles about the 100-year anniversaries of the enactment of Prohibition, the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I, the first days of Negro National League Baseball, and the founding of the American Civil Liberties Union. In the same year, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed, guaranteeing women’s suffrage. The formation of the League of Women Voters was the next logical step—also in 1920.

Earth Day 2020 will be a big one—this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the event. The topic was important then, and it is one of the most important issues today. There are books representing every possible take on the subject for every level of reader.

Here’s something else that will be happening soon: The 2020 U.S. Census kicks off in April. Libraries will play a big part in assisting participation in this important activity, as well as insuring a fair and accurate count. Library space, staff, and technology will be used to promote participation and help patrons complete this mostly online endeavor.

If you’re the kind of librarian who’s really into The Big Picture, American Library Association will host a symposium on the future of libraries. Attendees will learn about long-term trends that will affect the public’s needs for library services in the future.

And if you can’t make it to Chicago, there’s an app for that. Whoops, I meant to say there’s always a podcast.

I hope this gives you ideas and inspiration for the next year. But don’t worry, we’ll keep checking and adding Featured Lists to Bibz whenever new subjects arise.

Happy 2020!