Schlow Library’s BookFestPA exposes art in writing, science

What do scientists, writers and artists have in common?

For one thing, you’ll be able to find all three in State College this weekend at Schlow Centre Region Library’s BookFestPA.

Schlow will host its fifth annual BookFestPA as part of the 2014 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. In the BookFest tent, which will be set up in the library’s parking lot, Pennsylvania authors will be on hand throughout the day to discuss their craft, sign and sell books, and meet readers of all ages.

Though books and authors may not immediately come to mind when thinking of Arts Fest, BookFestPA organizer Maria Burchill said they fit right in.

“(BookFestPA) is a celebration of the book and the art of writing,” said Burchill, who is head of adult services at Schlow. “In a similar way that we look at art and handle art when we go to artists’ booths in town, we can handle books.”

Three featured authors will give talks on the theme “Nature, Science and Imagination” in the library’s Downsborough Community Room.

Molecular biologist-turned-author Rebecca Hirsch will kick off the author talks at 11 a.m. Hirsch, who lives in State College, is the award-winning writer of more than 20 science-themed children’s books. She will discuss how scientists and writers are the same.

“Scientists and writers are similar because they both kind of think like detectives,” Hirsch said. “With science, you’re always asking questions, you have to do research and dig around for information. For writers, there’s a lot of overlap there. But one of the differences is that writers really need to find ways to make the material come alive.”

That, of course, is where a healthy artist’s imagination comes into play.

“I’m always thinking about how to use all five senses when I’m writing,” Hirsch said. “If I’m writing about an animal, I’m wondering how I can incorporate sounds, visuals and textures.”

Other featured speakers include Rebecca Thornburgh, a Hollidaysburg native who has illustrated more than 40 children’s books, including “The Shelf Elf” series, and Scott Weidensaul, a renowned naturalist and author of more than two dozen books, including Pulitzer Prize finalist “Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds.”

Additional local authors who will make an appearance include Sylvia Apple, Charles Belfoure, Alice Breon, Edward R. Dionne, Tara Eisenhard, Jeff Frazier, Brandi Hall, Annie Harris, Denise Kaminsky, Vera Kharkova, Nickie Krewson, Kathy Laugheed, Jodi Moore, J. Kelly Poorman, Dave Stone, Thom Thomas, Ed White and Hülya n Yılmaz, as well as representatives from Penn State Press.