For the second time in the past 12 months, Ohioana Library will hold a book festival to highlight the state's writers.

For the second time in the past 12 months, Ohioana Library will hold a book festival to highlight the state's writers.

Though it might seem unusual to have a festival twice in a year, the upcoming event will mark the start of Ohioana's yearly spring festival.

Last September the Ohio-specific library held a similar event, but decided to change the timing to spring. Afterward, the nonprofit was faced with either waiting nine months or a year and a half to hold the event again.

"We decided that we would go ahead and bite the bullet," said the library's development director, David Weaver. He noted that the decision to change the event to the spring was made to allow the library -- which collects, preserves and promotes the work of Ohio writers, artists and musicians --to focus on its annual Ohioana Awards.

The free festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 10, at the State Library, 274 E. First Ave. in Columbus. It will include readings and book signings by 10 featured authors and 40 additional authors with connections to Ohio.

Among the featured authors will be cartoonist Tom Batiuk, creator of the comic strip "Funky Winkerbean;" Sharon Draper, prize-winning writer of books for young adults; Tom Duffy, journalist and associate managing editor of Time magazine; mystery and historical novelist Karen Harper; Zakes Mda, South African-born playwright and novelist; poet and children's author Marilyn Nelson; Harvey Pekar, creator of the comic book and graphic novel series "American Splendor;" novelist Mary Doria Russell; Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Cleveland Plain Dealer; and culinary writer Marilou K. Suszko.

Weaver said Ohioana's theme was to pull in a diverse group of writers, opposed to last September's event that revolved around a single book with multiple authors. "The good thing in this group is that everybody has a particular following," he said.

"This year the authors are representative of various genres and have published a book in the past year," Weaver said. "Children's literature, poetry, fiction, nonfiction are all represented."

The opening ceremony begins at 10 a.m. with Ohio first lady Frances Strickland, the festival's honorary chair. From 10:30 a.m. on there will be panel discussions throughout the event, with six readings an hour by authors. In addition, there will be live entertainment by jazz musician Arnet Howard, food vendors, and an on-site Barnes & Noble bookstore and café.

More than 800 people attended the library's first book festival. The library already has made plans to hold next year's event at the Statehouse.

The concept of the festival developed from a marketing survey conducted by graduate students from Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business, Weaver said.

"They surveyed our 2,000 members and supporters -- librarians, readers, writers -- asking what they would like to see us do more of," Weaver said. "They said they would like to see more opportunities to get together with other readers and authors."

The featured authors will be in Columbus for two days, with Friday, May 9, being a day of outreach. The authors will visit several schools, libraries and other community centers. Some will participate in a live radio panel discussion with WOSU Open Line host Fred Andrle.

For more information, visit the festival Web site at www.ohioanabookfestival.org/ or call the Ohioana Library (614)-466-3831.

ThisWeek Staff Writer David J. Cross contributed to this story.