Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Events

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’re celebrating Black lives and remembering the tremendous life and accomplishments of Dr. King with a day full of events and opportunities to serve our community. 


MLK Day Activities at the Downtown Library

We’ll start the day at 9:30 AM with a storytime featuring "Hands Up" by Brianna J. McDaniel and "Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race" by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, followed by crafts to celebrate Black lives and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Following storytime, at 11 AM, the Bloomington Peace Choir, a community choir that sings to uplift their spirits and the world, will join us for a short all-ages performance in the atrium.

Journey forward with local author, Carol-Anne Hughes Hossler at 1 PM as she talks about her book, Dr. King, The Rabbi, And Me, what she's learned, and leads activities and discussion to get tweens ages 7–12 thinking. Special activities will also be available in the Tween Space throughout the day.

At 3 PM and 4 PM, the IU African American Dance Company presents “Good Dancing – Good People!” This interactive, high-spirited 30-minute lecture/performance combines the energizing dances of the legendary IU African American Dance Company with ideas about service in African and African American cultures. Please choose one time to attend to allow for space for others. 

Also, between 4–5 PM, teens ages 12–19 are invited to drop in at The Ground Floor to help assemble dignity kits with personal hygiene items including socks, toothbrushes, and more. The kits will be distributed to Beacon’s Shalom Center for community members experiencing homelessness. 

All MLK Day events are on a drop-in basis and do not require registration. View the full lineup event details here.


Backpack Buddies

Help fight hunger in our community by supporting the Community Kitchen of Monroe County's Backpack Buddies program! The program provides qualifying children with a backpack of food to take home from school each weekend to help with their food needs. Beginning on MLK Day and continuing through the week, we’ll accept food donations at the Downtown Library and Ellettsville Branch. Visit the Community Kitchen’s website to view their donation wish list. There are currently over 300 children from 21 Monroe County schools enrolled.


Rube Goldberg Science Machine

Free WonderLab Science Kits

Dr. King understood the importance of science. During his 1964 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, he noted the many achievements that humanity had reached through science and technology, “Modern man … has produced machines that think and instruments that peer into the unfathomable ranges of interstellar space. He has built gigantic bridges to span the seas and gargantuan buildings to kiss the skies. His airplanes and spaceships have dwarfed distance, placed time in chains, and carved highways through the stratosphere. This is a dazzling picture of modern man’s scientific and technological progress.”

Drop by the Downtown Library or Ellettsville Branch and get one of 100 free Rube Goldberg Science Kits while supplies last, courtesy of WonderLab, packed with everything you need to create your own machine! Post your creation to Instagram with the tag @wonderlabmuseum and #RubeGoldbergMachine by Saturday, January 22 and you may be selected to win a WonderLab WonderPass for a free visit. Learn more.


Celebrating Black Voices

Celebrating Black Voices Reading Challenge

Our Celebrating Black Voices reading challenge kicks off on MLK Day! Available January 17–March 31, the all-ages game challenges you to learn about books that received the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and attend related Library events. Participants who complete the challenge will earn $2 bear bucks to spend in the Friends of the Library Bookstore!


"Our Voice" Exhibit

The reading challenge ties into Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards––A Marian Armstrong Exhibit. Presented by The Friends of the Library, the exhibit features 34 prints of Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrations. The award-winning illustrations and children’s books highlight stories and figures from Black history, honoring the triumphs and struggles of African Americans throughout time.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are presented annually by the American Library Association to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

The exhibit will run February 1–March 20. Learn more about the exhibit and related events, including The Power of Words: Changing Our World One Author at a Time with award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson on February 5.