Recommended Sessions for a Bright ALA Annual Conference in San Diego

Join us at the 2024 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition in San Diego, June 27 – July 2, 2024! With sessions covering topics from artificial intelligence, intellectual freedom, accessibility, unique community outreach programs and more, check out some of our recommended sessions for programming librarians below. See you in San Diego!


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Friday, June 28

Thinking Outside the (STEAM) Box: Bringing the library to your community

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Location: Marriot Marquis, Marina Salon E, F, D

Gender equity and cultural responsiveness are the core of a cumulating ALA project to offer STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) programming and exhibitions for rural community members, especially often-underreached Latinx populations. In collaboration with the STAR Library Network and the Emmy award-winning SciGirls television show, this session will delve into strategies for library workers to create inclusive and engaging STEAM programs for tweens and their families. Through breakout groups, we will explore how to adapt STEAM programs to include the whole family, how to create your own STEAM exploration spaces and kits, and share strategies for implementing cultural and gender-responsive STEAM programming. [This is a paid ticket event, advanced registration is required.]

Opening Session featuring Trevor Noah

4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Ballroom 20

Trevor Noah is one of the most globally beloved comedians and is perhaps best known as the host of the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning, “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, from 2015-2022. Noah's first book, "Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood," was an instant New York Times bestseller and won the 2017 Thurber Prize for American Humor. Noah's latest comedy special is the 2022 Netflix release, "I Wish You Would," and he can be seen performing live on his "Off the Record" world tour. Noah will discuss his new book, "Into the Uncut Grass," available October 2024. A gorgeously illustrated fable about a young boy’s adventure into a magical landscape where he discovers the secrets of solidarity, connection, and finding peace with the people we love.

Rally for the Right to Read Reception

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Location: Hilton Bayfront, Sapphire BR CDGH

We once again honor the courage and resilience of America’s librarians and their work to protect the freedom to read! Join us for the 2nd Annual Rally for the Right to Read, featuring an acclaimed author, ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Awards, and a snapshot of incredible work by new and veteran advocates who exemplify what it means to Unite Against Book Bans. The Intellectual Freedom Awards include the FTRF Roll of Honor Award, Eli M. Oboler Award, Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Relations Award, and John Phillip Immroth Award.

Saturday, June 29

Library for All: Programming Ideas for Adults with Disabilities on a $0 Budget

9:00 am - 10:00 am

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 32 A B

Are you looking for ways to provide programs and activities for adults with disabilities on a $0 budget? The presenter will share her ideas on creating fun and easy programs and activities for libraries with a small programming budget. The presenter will also share her experience advocating for more funding for her program through outreach, community engagement, and grant writing. The presenter will also provide two 12-month program ideas for all participants with yearly budgets of $100 and $500. The program is open to everyone interested in starting a program for adults with disabilities or looking for program ideas on a shoestring budget.

Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee Meeting

9:00 am - 10:00 am

Location: Manchester Grand Hyatt, Boardwalk Room

The PCPAC's charge is to serve as an advisory committee to the ALA Public Programs Office. To promote excellence in cultural programming; to assist library staff to become more effective providers of cultural programming; to identify and disseminate resources for cultural programming; and to promote the cultural communities fund. Previous, current, new, and interested members are encouraged to join our meeting.

Outreach and Engagement Poster Sessions

10:00 am - 11:30 am

Location: Sails Pavilion

Explore posters focused on library outreach and engagement initiatives. 

How to Run an LGBTQIA2S+ Book Club for Teens if You’re Not Queer or Trans

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 8

Say you know there’s a need for a queer book club for teens at your library, and you’re willing to run the program, but you’re not queer or trans—what are some best practices for being an incredible ally to your LGBTQIA2S+ teens? This panel will bring a group of LGBTQIA2S+ authors together to think through best practices, and all the tips and tricks we’ve got to make your queer book club the strongest it can be. We will talk book selection, developing a community agreements and think through the kinds of other supports a queer book club needs to be successful if the person running the programming isn't queer themselves, especially in the current, shall we say, landscape.

Building Equity through Arts and Culture: Amplifying a Creative and Culturally Rich Community

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 28 D E

In a community where the Arts have played an essential role in its cultural and economic growth, Richland Library has reimagined what it means to provide inclusive, culturally rich, and customer-driven experiences that support its thriving Arts Community. Through gallery exhibitions, artist residencies, youth-centered workshops, and partnerships with neighboring Arts organizations, we aim to become a leader in and integral pillar of our culturally diverse community.

Make It Rain! Tips for Getting an ALA Grant

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 10

Opportunities abound! Join Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee members for an informative session that will show you the behind the scenes of the ALA Public Programs Office grant process and help connect your library with innovating programs and impactful initiatives. Learn how to navigate the grant process and successfully bring opportunities to your community.

Combating Voter Suppression in Your Library

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 29 D

With up to a quarter of the world's population voting, 2024 is being called "the super election year” and is expected to be the biggest election year in history. In the United States, in addition to the presidential election, citizens will be voting for 34 Senate seats, 435 Representative voting seats, 11 governors, 10 attorney generals, numerous state representatives, and more. Worldwide, it is estimated that up to 49% of eligible voters, or two billion people, will be voting in one of 64 national elections. Fair elections are threatened by misinformation, doxing, and even threats of violence. In this turbulent environment, 2024 has the potential to shape world for many years to come – both good and bad.

The Future of Digital Literacy in Public Libraries

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 28 D E

Digital literacy is a forever changing landscape, with the pandemic introducing virtual/online learning, with generative AI hitting the scene and the rate at which organizations are changing to digital engagement only, it is imperative that public libraries stay on top of how to prepare our patrons for the future of digital literacy. 

Won't You Be Our Player?: Building Queer Community with Games

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 01 A

Games help connect players to each other in a common shared goal, having a great time. They provide a structured environment that can help facilitate experiences that can lead to greater community ties and an increased sense of belonging. In a time where libraries–particularly public libraries–are seeing challenges to inclusive collections and programming, creating an intentionally inclusive space for our LGBTQ+ patrons is an important action to take to support community members who may face exclusion and discrimination elsewhere. In this panel, attendees will learn different ways to use games and play to build connections to our LGBTQ+ patrons, about tools and techniques for creating safe spaces for play, and how to intentionally develop inclusive games collections. 

60 Tips for Youth Services in 60 Minutes

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Location: Hilton Bayfront, Indigo Ballroom 8

In this timed rapid-fire presentation, ALA Editions | Neal-Schuman authors - all of whom work closely with school and/or youth populations - take turns briskly detailing one tip per minute to enhance youth services. Informed by up-to-the-minute news and information, their author-expert guidance may cover such topics as collection development, finding and spreading inspiration, library-community collaborations, early literacy programming and space design, diversity and inclusion in programming for older children and teens, readers' advisory, school librarian leadership development, story time strategies, training and partnering with teachers, using research data to inform youth services planning, and self-care in turbulent times. Following the formal presentation of tips, all program participants are welcomed to stay through the second half-hour (3:30 to 4:00 PM) for Q&A and to bring their professional concerns and goals to each author-expert for discussion in the session room.

Diversity Fair Poster Session

3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: Sails Pavilion

Explore posters with a diversity focus.

Expanding Library Services to Incarcerated Youth

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 4

Providing library services to incarcerated youth is critical. Illiteracy and a lack of interest in reading are among the unmet needs of detained and incarcerated youth. There is a link between engaging young people in meaningful activities, particularly those aimed at helping to shape young people’s identities, opportunity, and education. Reading and the practice of literacy—which include access to a library and library services—is a direct way in which young people can begin to focus their identities and outlooks more positively.

Main Stage Speaker: Taraji P. Henson

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Ballroom 20

Taraji P. Henson is an Academy Award-nominated actor, producer, author, and mental health advocate. She is known for award-winning roles in such celebrated projects as “Hustle & Flow," “Hidden Figures,” and most recently “The Color Purple,” winning an NAACP Image Award and receiving a Screen Actors Guild nomination. On TV, Henson won a Golden Globe Award, received multiple Emmy nominations, and became the first Black woman to win a Critics Choice Television Award for her portrayal of “Cookie Lyon” on the hit series, “Empire.” She is currently working on Peacock's limited series, “Fight Night.” Henson will discuss her debut picture book, “You Can Be a Good Friend (No Matter What!),” illustrated by Paul Kellam and available June 2024.

Sunday, June 30

Food is a Right: Libraries Respond to Food Inequity

9:00 am - 10:00 am

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 4

From after-school snacks to nutrition education to support for food entrepreneurs and farmers, libraries across the nation are playing important roles in creating more equitable food ecosystems. Participants will hear about ULC’s project, including what was learned through a national research scan, surveys, individual interviews, and a 3-day convening made up of representatives from rural, suburban, and urban libraries. They will also hear from a professor co-leading a research project focused on food justice, and a consultant with a national organization who conducts an ongoing community of practice made up of nonprofit leaders working to bring food equity to all people in the U.S.

How to Build a Poetry Program (That People Will Actually Like!)

10:00 am - 11:20 am

Location: Exhibit Hall - Chapter One Stage (Booth 2311)

A vibrant and inclusive poetry program is essential for libraries – but how best to develop an interesting collection that will attract readers? Join some of the country’s best poets and publishers to hear about their work with public libraries, how your library might further engage your poetry community, and what librarians and patrons need to know about this artform too often labeled niche or esoteric.

72 Tips for Academic Libraries in 72 Minutes

10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Location: Hilton Bayfront, Indigo Ballroom C

In this rapid-fire presentation timed at 1 hour and 12 minutes, ALA Editions | Neal-Schuman authors and university library workers take turns briskly detailing one tip per minute to elevate student, staff, faculty and other patron experiences of academic libraries. Informed by up-to-the-minute news and information, their author-expert guidance covers such topics as academic library branding, cross-disciplinary and community collaboration, forming partnerships to promote library visibility, increasing diversity of representation in archives and collections, media literacy skill set development and assignment design, navigating copyright issues, nurturing a culture of creativity, planning and assessment strategies, presenting collections and services through active learning events, and new technologies and theories to enhance learning and service efficiencies. Following the formal presentation of tips, all program participants are welcomed to stay through the second hour for Q&A, and to bring the concerns and goals of their academic libraries to each author-expert for tableside discussions.

"Let Us Help Advance the Field": Neurodivergent Librarian Voices Shaping Neuroinclusive Library Workplaces

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 28 A B C

Did you know that approximately 20% of your workforce is neurodivergent? Did you know that most library workplaces are not yet neuroinclusive? Come learn how to foster a neuroinclusive work environment that will benefit all library employees and result in improved services to your community. Drawing on an IMLS-funded research project highlighting the experiences of neurodivergent librarians and supervisors, along with their neurotypical colleagues, this session will detail the workplace experiences of neurodivergent librarians and the barriers to and enablers of inclusion they encounter in libraries. Participants will learn neuroinclusive practices in the workplace to create a supportive environment for neurodivergent library workers. The presenters will share components of a forthcoming toolkit, which includes educational materials, resources, and more, designed to improve libraries’ capacity to recruit, hire, onboard, retain, and advance neurodivergent librarians.

Depositing Joy: Programming and Services for Families Experiencing Homelessness

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 28 D E

Are you struggling to pinpoint an outreach program model that works for families experiencing homelessness in your community? Do you dream of allowing families to learn and explore when it’s convenient for them and familiarizing them with library resources, thus eliminating social barriers to library usage? Learn how one library established strong partnerships with emergency family shelters by offering tailor-made passive program boxes and deposit collections of diverse, popular and age-appropriate materials. Attendees will learn how to replicate this model; three themed program-in-a-box project ideas will be provided to further inspire attendees and help them get started on their own programs.

Mapping a Path to Success: Career Exploration for Middle Schoolers

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 2

By collaborating with schools, city departments, and community organizations, libraries can lead the way in supporting diverse students in crafting personalized career paths while also focusing on local workforce needs. As more states emphasize career guidance beginning in middle school, students are seeking hands-on career exploration opportunities. Panelists from independent and municipal public libraries will share effective practices for developing partnerships and implementing career exploration programs with a focus on providing active learning experiences to underserved youth. Learn how these libraries identified collaborative partnerships with multiple community organizations, school systems, and city departments in their own community and learn how to connect with partners. Attendees with also have the opportunity to engage with examples of the hands-on learning stations used in these programs.

REFORMA's Children in Crisis Project - Creating Immigrant Youth and Library Connections

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 11 A

REFORMA's Children In Crisis Project and its collaborators actively respond to unaccompanied immigrant youth. Since 2014 we have welcomed youth at the border with Spanish and bilingual Spanish/English books as well as library information to ease their trauma. In partnership with social service agencies, individuals, shelters, immigration lawyers, religious organizations and others REFORMA has developed an ever expanding network of immigration contacts. Customs and Border Protection on the Texas border was our initial contact with the children, but over the years these connections have grown to include a wide range of other organizations working with the children. This program will highlight historical and current programs that libraries and librarians have been implementing to better address the ever changing immigrant youth issues. From work at pop-up immigration shelters to welcoming groups at bus stations and from legal offices to post separation check ups, we will document the differences that books have made.

Period Poverty and Patrons

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 4

800 million people are menstruating at any given point in time. And we’re not providing anything for them. Libraries have long been a place to get things without cost- information, computer use, wifi, even coffee in some cases. We outfit our libraries with the latest technology, the best furniture, and the most dedicated staff, but we are missing a key component. We are not providing period products. In our restrooms, we provide toilet paper, soap, paper sanitary ring protectors, paper towels, hand driers, clean toilets and sinks, but we aren’t providing period supplies. Period poverty, and period “wastelands” are real, and libraries can help bridge the divide between those who need and those who have. It’s one of the most important things we can provide to people who menstruate, and by partnering with organizations, community stakeholders, and by simply de-stigmafying your budget, your library can begin their own menstruation journey. This panel discussion will include advocates for period products, community influencers, and business to business period product providers.

Perspectives and Reflections on Program Challenges and Crisis Management

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 23 A B C

Is your library facing attacks against intellectual freedom and core values? Hear four different perspectives from a Midwest suburban library about how they navigated a teen program challenged for LGBTQ+ content. The community reaction was immense, with over two thousand individual responses, features on numerous regional news outlets, and packed board meetings featuring both supporters and dissenters. Groups of protestors utilized coordinated attacks including the spread of mis/disinformation, overwhelming FOIA requests, and threats of violence, which ultimately led to the program’s cancellation. In the year since, the library has seen sustained challenges against library services including the library’s equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts. A Library Trustee, Director, Marketing & Communications Manager, and Teen Librarian will discuss what they learned and experienced. Their shared collaborative experience through the crisis will help prepare your library from the top down. Get strategies for surviving charged board meetings; responding to media requests and issuing statements; supporting staff; becoming FOIA-ready; utilizing community partnerships; and continuing to provide diverse programming and services. Walk away with a clear idea of what to expect from ongoing attacks and how you can continue to support your library and community while standing firm in your commitment to EDI.

Monday, July 1

Designing Libraries with Diverse Communities in Mind Using Lenses of Neurodiversity and Process Driven Approaches

9:00 am -10:00 am

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 30 A B C D E

As librarians, we strive to create spaces that are welcoming for all, but how well are we doing, and do we really understand the depth of what it means to Design for Diversity? Sponsored by Core’s BCUL committee, this panel session will explore design approaches for the inclusion of the broadest range of occupants, experiences, abilities, and perspectives. Through the lenses of neurodiversity and process-driven approaches, this session will engage attendees in a conversation to push the boundaries of academic library space design.

Building Homeschooling Resources and Community Relationships at the Public Library

10:30 am -11:30 am

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 11 A

In a post-COVID world, homeschooling has become an increasingly popular educational option for a diverse array of families, and no longer remains such a niche alternative. For libraries either currently serving or hoping to serve this demographic, we invite you to join this presentation that will showcase perspectives from three different libraries in California and New York currently offering homeschooling services. You'll learn why families may choose to homeschool; what materials, programs, and other assistance these libraries provide; and relationships they’ve formed with local homeschooling advocates and families. Attendees will hear tips and tricks, pitfalls encountered, simple strategies for cultivating relationships with your local homeschooling community, and how you can gather your own set of resources on a limited (or wider) budget.

Our Diverse Characters Book Club: Discussing Divisive Concepts in Red States

10:30 am -11:30 am

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 25 A B C

In 2020 our academic library, located in East Tennessee, created a student-focused book club designed to spark discussions around the concepts of race, gender, sexuality, social justice, and the systemic oppression of disenfranchised groups. Now in its seventh semester, our Diverse Characters Book Club has gained in popularity. However, while our book club is garnering more campus visibility and more administrative support, our state has passed, and continues to introduce legislation, that makes it increasingly difficult to teach about racism, homophobia, and sexism in public higher education institutions. We feel now is more important than ever to continue this discourse. Our book club provides a safe space for students to discuss these issues with the learning outcomes of recognizing racism, injustice, privilege, and the way these issues affect all our lives. Are you an academic librarian working in a state with laws against teaching divisive concepts? Are you worried you will no longer have the freedom to discuss diversity and inclusion with students? Join academic librarians from a university in Tennessee, who created a Diverse Characters Book Club to keep these conversations alive. You will leave this session with ideas on how create your own DEI book club, how to navigate divisive concepts laws, and how to continue the important work of diversity, equity, and inclusion even, and especially, in an atmosphere of censorship.

Bridgebuilding: Fostering Community Engagement, Dialogue, and Interactions in Libraries

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 5 B

The U.S. is reaching a crisis point where rising levels of division, distrust, social isolation, and segregation make it difficult to relate to others who are different from us. This is a threat to our democracy. To heal these divides, we as a nation need to strengthen social capital and civic infrastructure. Increasingly, bridgebuilding (or bridging) is proposed as part of the solution because of its ability to strengthen civic life and a sense of mutuality. Public libraries have incredible potential to amplify the impact of bridging movements across the U.S. Public libraries have low barriers to entry and offer services and resources that enable them to welcome a diversity of people each week. Additionally, through a variety of programs and activities, individuals can connect with others through shared experiences. Over a six-month period our team followed the work of libraries of all sizes across the country in effort to document the various ways that libraries were bridging divides. We documented various approaches such conversation and dialogue, shared experiences, and programs designed to spark civic renewal. During this presentation we will highlight practitioners and shared our findings - as well as recommendations for library systems, foundations, and library professionals.

Empowering BIPOC Youth Through Library Services

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 23 A B C

Libraries have a crucial role to play in providing empowering spaces and services for BIPOC youth. This panel, supported by an IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) research grant, aims to showcase the innovative approaches, evidence-based strategies, and success stories that demonstrate how libraries can effectively cater to the needs and interests of BIPOC youth. Through a dynamic and interactive discussion, the panelists will explore how libraries can foster empowerment, inclusivity, and positive identity development among BIPOC youth, with a specific focus on the outcomes of research funded by the IMLS grant. The panelists will not only share their insights and experiences but also offer practical takeaways from the research that can be implemented in libraries across the nation.

Programming for Your Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Patrons

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 25 A B C

This panel of Deaf and Hard of Hearing librarians is sponsored by ALA’s Office of Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services (ODLOS) and Bridging Deaf Cultures Interest Group. Learn how you can enhance your programming services to the DeafBlind, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing communities. Examples of programs for children, teens, and adults will be shared, in which a demonstration of an American SIgn Language (ASL) storytime will be conducted. The panel will also provide resources lists of Deaf literature that can be used for passive programming, ASL storytimes, and myriad other programs and services. It is also important that hearing communities learn about Deaf Culture and Deaf History to gain a greater understanding of the Deaf population, thus the panel will include some programs that can be implemented to both hearing and deaf communities alike. The goal of the program is to educate and empower library staff on how to create programming that connects DeafBlind, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing communities to the library, hearing communities, and each other.

The Library is Open to ALL: LGBTQIA+ Community Engagement at the San Diego Public Library!

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 23 A B C

Follow San Diego Public Library on their journey "over the rainbow!" In 2013, SDPL formed an LGBTQIA+ Library Services Committee to facilitate their inaugural participation in the San Diego Pride parade and festival. From there, SDPL has cultivated and sustained a meaningful relationship with San Diego Pride to engage San Diego’s LGBTQIA+ community more effectively. SDPL utilizes these relationships to further develop queer-affirming collections, programming, spaces, and outreach practices. Additionally, this past summer, SDPL received national coverage for effectively navigating challenges to LGBTQ+ pride book displays. Join us and learn how to master the art of LGBTQIA+-affirming inclusivity at your library!

Connecting for play: Outreach, instructions, and programming with games

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 24 A B

Have you wanted to use games for your library instruction, outreach, and other programming, but been too overwhelmed by all of the factors that go into deciding what will work best for your context? This session will guide participants through the important questions to ask when planning programming around games and playful experiences to support your library’s goals and mission. Presenters, who come from both academic and public libraries, will introduce attendees to a variety of excellent options to create memorable gaming experiences with your patrons. They will discuss strategies for getting buy-in from administrators for building programming, instruction, and events around your game collection, and pursuing partnership opportunities between library types and community groups and organizations to strengthen community connections.

Tuesday, July 2

Closing Main Stage

9:30 am - 10:30 am

Location: San Diego Convention Center, Ballroom 20