Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Leonard Kniffel  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Non-Fiction

Born: in Michigan



Illinois Connection

Kniffel currently resides in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Kniffel is the editor in chief of American Libraries, the magazine of the American Library Association. Born and raised in Michigan, he holds masters degrees in English and library science from Wayne State University in Detroit. He now lives and works in Chicago.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

A Polish Son in the Motherland: An American's Journey Home
ISBN: 1585444413

Texas A&M University Press. 2005

Searching for the remnants of his family, Leonard Kniffel left Chicago in 2000 to live in Poland. A Polish Son in the Motherland is the story of a search for roots and for the reasons why one family’s ties were severed more than fifty years ago. Along the way, we see what half a century of communism did to Poland and how the residue of World War II lingers.
The author’s search begins inauspiciously, but he soon meets a local wine merchant and her son, who are eager to reveal the secrets of Nowe Miasto Lubawskie, the town near which his grandmother was born. After he moves in with Adam, a local entrepreneur who trades in everything from shoes and cosmetics to computers and jam, he begins to master his ancestral language and learn the ways of the community from Adam’s mother, who loves long walks in the woods—and meals made from what she picks there.

Kniffel’s search for a connection to Poland is propelled by memories of the stories his grandmother told him about her emigration to Michigan in 1913. While his family eludes him, the adventure becomes an investigation into the relationship between mothers and the legacy they give their sons.

Poles who emigrated to America, the author concludes, must have been particularly good at assimilating into American culture. Less than fifty years after his maternal grandparents arrived in the United States, barely a trace of their Polishness existed in their grandchildren. Through his grandparents’ struggles, their children became American and created a new world for themselves and their descendants.

In returning to Poland himself, Kniffel sought and found a bridge to the “Great Migration” that changed the lives of so many millions—and millions yet to come.

Reading with the Stars: A Celebration of Books and Libraries
ISBN: 0838935982

Amer Library Assn Editions. 2011

American Libraries editor in chief Leonard Kniffel offers a compelling collection of interviews with prominent figures--all of whom have special connections to libraries. From President Barack Obama to actress Julie Andrews

from basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to former First Lady and librarian Laura Bush and many others, stars of literature, politics, entertainment, and the public arena speak with Kniffel about the ways libraries have been critical in their lives. Other highlights of this delightful volume

  • TV icon Oprah Winfrey talks about library books as "her pass to personal freedom"
  • Hard-boiled wordsmith David Mamet claims the public library as his "alma mater"
  • Software mogul Bill Gates discusses his groundbreaking library computerization project and why he feels libraries are an important focus of his investment
  • Former Vice President Al Gore addresses the "information ecosystem," including how libraries contribute to the informed citizenry that's required to manage today's challenges
With plenty to engage library advocates as well as casual readers, Reading with the Stars offers proof positive that libraries and librarians continue to perform vital services and hold a place of honor.