Don’t Call It a Comeback: Libraries @ the Center of Community Recovery

As communities across the country struggle to stay open during the protracted pandemic, they continue to look to libraries to help drive their economic and social recovery; provide essential services, convene crucial conversations about equity, and to help patrons find their feet amid changing circumstances. Join Library Journal on October 21 for a free, daylong virtual event to hear from public library leaders and staff who are reinventing their services and building on their best COVID-inspired innovations to better connect with and serve patrons and help their communities recover.

Sessions will address:

  • Libraries @ the Center of the Job Search
  • Realizing an Equity-Centered Library Culture
  • Libraries @ the Center of Digital Access
  • Delivering Services through Multiple Channels
  • The Future of Collections
  • Libraries @ the Center of Public Health

Plus the Opening Keynote with Celeste Headlee!

EVENT HOURS: 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM ET


This program is under development, so check back for updates.

Please note that the event environment and the sessions have attendance capacity limits. If on the day of the event you find that you are unable to access the environment or join a session, know that sessions will be available for on-demand viewing within 24 hours, and the entire event will be accessible for three months from the event date.

By registering for this event or webcast, you are agreeing to the Library Journal Privacy Policy and Code of Conduct Policy and agreeing that Library Journal may share your registration information with current and future sponsors of this event.

If you have any questions, email us at

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM ET | Exhibit Hall Opens/Visit the Booths

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM ET | Opening Keynote with Celeste Headlee
Celeste Headlee is an award-winning journalist who has appeared on NPR, PBS, CNN, BBC and more. Her forthcoming book, Speaking of Race: Why Everybody Needs to Talk About Racism–and How to Do It, published by HarperCollins, draws on her experiences as a journalist as well as a light-skinned Black Jew—plus research on bias, communication, and neuroscience—to provide practical advice and insight for how to talk about race productively with people who don’t already agree with you. Her previous books include Do Nothing — How to Break Away From Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, published by Harmony Books, and We Need To Talk – How To Have Better Conversations, published by Harper Wave.
Moderator: Kiera Parrott, Director, Darien Library (CT)

10:35 AM - 11:25 AM ET | Libraries @ The Center of Public Health.  
Libraries play an essential role in helping the public access accurate, reliable information to make the right choices for their health. They also have long helped patrons navigate digital portals to get health insurance. Now they’re going even further to connect patrons directly to essential healthcare, from COVID tests and vaccines to telehealth consultations, on-site screenings, and more. Learn how innovators are leveraging partnerships and community trust to bridge gaps and narrow inequities in access to healthcare.
Nicholas A. Brown, Chief Operating Officer for Communication and Outreach, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (MD)
Stephanie Buchanan, Director, Bucyrus Public Library (OH)
Kathleen Montgomery, Outreach Manager, Charleston County Public Library (SC)
Tiffany Russell, LMSW, Social Services, Manager at the Niles District Library (MI)
Moderator: Lisa Peet, News Editor, Library Journal

11:30 AM - 12:20 PM ET | Libraries @ The Center of Digital Access
COVID-19 brought home that high speed internet access is essential to work, school, and health--and how many Americans still don’t have it. Even before Congress stepped up to provide unprecedented funding, public libraries were going above and beyond to close that gap. Hear how both urban and rural libraries got patrons safely connected during lockdowns, and how you can apply new funds to provide those programs in your community. 
Dianne Connery, Director, Pottsboro Library (TX)
Moderator: Matt Enis, Senior Editor, Technology, Library Journal

12:20 PM - 1:00 PM ET | Break/Visit the Exhibit Hall

1:00 PM - 1:50 PM ET | Libraries @ The Center of the Job Search
One-third of Americans under 40 are looking to switch not just jobs, but career fields. More patrons than ever are turning to the library for help to replace lost positions, stay remote, leave stressful public-facing industries, and explore new opportunities. Learn how to replicate and adapt innovative library programs that offer credentials, hands-on training targeted to local employers’ needs, and in-depth support for entrepreneurs.
Brandy McNeil, Ph.D., Director of Adult Services, The New York Public Library
Morgan Perry, Outreach Business Specialist, Mid-Continent Public Library (MO)
Moderator: Elizabeth Kobert, Processing Archivist, Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary (NY)

1:55 PM - 2:25 PM ET | Delivering Services through Multiple Channels
Librarians are eager to welcome patrons and programs back into their buildings, yet pandemic-inspired innovations have proven quite popular. From curbside pickup and book bundles to virtual programming, these new expectations are not going away. Hear how libraries plan to continue delivering service via those new channels simultaneously with the reinstituted core, in-person model.
Brittany Garcia, Teen and Adult Services Librarian II, City of Rancho Cucamonga (CA)
Jennie Pu, Director, Hoboken Public Library (NJ)
Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialist, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
Moderator: Meredith Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal

2:25 PM - 3:00 PM ET | Break/Visit the Exhibit Hall

3:00 PM - 3:50 PM ET | The Future of Collections
As buildings closed, collection development librarians shifted their budget lines to support a burgeoning demand for digital content. Will new ebook users stick with that format or shift back to print? Will the advent of book bundles and other backlist discovery tools change what titles patrons want, or how they find them? Hear from collection development experts about what user behavior they see, what they forecast, and how they are managing lean budgets to get the most book bang for the buck. 
Beth Atwater, Collection Development Librarian, Johnson County Public Library (KS)
Lisa Oldoski, Collection Management Librarian, Pierce County Library System (WA)
Moderator: Wendy Bartlett, Collection Development and Acquisitions Manager, Cuyahoga County Public Library (OH)

3:55 PM - 4:45 PM ET | Realizing an Equity-Centered Library Culture
Libraries, like the rest of America, are grappling with how to address the ongoing destructive impacts of systemic racism to advance racial equity and justice, and move beyond making statements and convening dialogues. Learn how these public libraries are embedding equity, diversity, and inclusion into their internal workings through policy, practice, and partnerships; how this is enabling them to center equity in patron-facing services; and how leaders at all levels can help make it happen at their own libraries.
Ozy Aloziem, MSW, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Denver Public Library (CO)
Dominic Davis, Assistant Librarian, Madison Public Library (WI)
Moderator: Veronda Pitchford, Assistant Director, Califa Group

Keynote Speaker


Celeste Headlee is an award-winning journalist, professional speaker and the author of We Need To Talk: How To Have Conversations That Matter, and Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving. An expert in conversation, human nature, reclaiming our common humanity and finding well-being, Celeste frequently provides insight on what is good for all humans and what is bad for us, focusing on the best research in neuro and social science to increase understanding of how we relate with one another and can work together in beneficial ways in our workplaces, neighborhoods, communities and homes. She is a regular guest host on NPR and American Public Media and a highly sought consultant, advising companies around the world on conversations about race, diversity and inclusion. Her TEDx Talk sharing 10 ways to have a better conversation has over 23 million total views, and she serves as an advisory board member for and The Listen First Project. Celeste is the recipient of the 2019 Media Changemaker Award. She is the proud granddaughter of composer William Grant Still, the Dean of African American Composers.




Ozy Aloziem is an Igbo social worker deeply committed to collective liberation and social justice.  Originally raised on Omaha land, she has been a visitor on Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute territories since 2015. Ozy is the Denver Public Library's first Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Manager. She is a 2021 Library Journal “Movers & Shakers” award winner for her racial equity research and advocacy. As a critical Black feminist, she prioritizes racial and gender equity in her teaching, scholarship, and activism. She uses this focus to amplify voices of marginalized communities that are left on the fringes of research, public policy, and global conversation. Presently, her research is centered around trauma-informed & culturally responsive community engagement, radical healing, and radical imagination.


Beth Atwater is the Fiction and DVD Collection Development Librarian for the Johnson County KS Library system. In other words, she has her dream job. Beth is also a Romance reviewer for Publishers Weekly and a devoted fan of all things fiction regardless of media type. In her free time, she can be found binge watching, reading, or listening to an audiobook. Beth is honored to have been PLA’s 2020 Allie Beth Martin winner.


Nicholas Alexander Brown is a Honduran-American library executive, arts producer, and musician based in Prince George's County, Maryland. He currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Communication and Outreach at the Prince George's County Memorial Library System. In 2019, Brown was named to the Library Journal Movers & Shakers - Innovators list for his work in programming and community engagement. He is currently an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Library and Information Science at The Catholic University of America and a past president of the District of Columbia Library Association. Brown previously worked in the Office of the President and Provost at Harvard University, and held internships in the Office of the First Lady at The White House (Obama Administration) and in the Boston Symphony Orchestra Press Office.



Stephanie Buchanan is Director of the Bucyrus Public Library in Bucyrus, OH. She previously worked as the director for the Bellevue Public Library and before this as a branch manager for the Huron County Community Library, all rural libraries in Ohio. Stephanie has served the Ohio Library Council in several capacities, been an active Rotarian and volunteered for many boards. She is also the founder of a grassroots nonprofit for the betterment of her community. She has a passion for rural libraries and sees them as an integral part of their communities. She strives to identify the gaps in equalities and shift the focus of her library to fill them, making the community a level playing field for all. She has a business degree from Tiffin University and has worked in public libraries for over 27 years.


Dianne Connery has been committed to rural public libraries since 2010. She earned a Master of Library Science from Texas Woman's University and a Master of Gerontology from the University of North Texas. Ms. Connery is actively invested in efforts to improve broadband access and digital inclusion in rural communities. She is passionate about inspiring others and advocating for the work of rural libraries, with emphasis on addressing the technology needs of the community. Ms. Connery was honored as an Innovator in Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers class of 2021.


Brandy McNeil, Ph.D is a NY bred, serial innovator who focuses on community needs through game-changing innovations to build successful adult education programs. As an award-winning Director of digital literacy for The New York Public Library, Dr. McNeil has played a significant role in paving the way for impactful programs in the 89 branches under her stewardship across NYC. Dr. McNeil is a leading figure and sought-after speaker of digital equity, workforce readiness and DEI. She is also a contributing writer of the book titled Libraryland, It’s All About The Story published in 2020 and has appeared in various publications including the New York Times, the NY Daily News, American Libraries, and a host of others. Brandy holds a Doctorate in Business and an M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship.


Kathleen Montgomery is the Outreach Manager with Charleston County Public Library. Kathleen's position as Outreach Manager allows her to serve the public in new and exciting ways, and to advocate for all of the underserved communities in Charleston. Kathleen loves collaborating with local organizations to build lasting partnerships and working to help the community thrive.


Lisa Oldoski is a collection development librarian who purchases Young Adult, Nonfiction, and zines, and is the Overdrive Administrator for a 19 branch library system. She has worked in libraries for 25 years, and collection development for 20. Though much of her work life is dedicated to the acquisition and promotion of ebooks, her personal life is dedicated to books made of paper.


Jennie Pu is the new Director of Hoboken Public Library. As well as directing the Library's traditional customer-focused operations, she oversees its restoration of full services post-COVID and shepherding the Library’s renovation of its historic main building, a process that is well underway. She most recently served as Dean of College Libraries at Hudson County Community College, where under her leadership she expanded digital services, programs and access, and won a half million dollars in grant funding for college-wide diversity, equity and inclusion programs.




Wendy Bartlett joined Cuyahoga County Public Library in 2009 as the manager for the Beachwood branch, where she streamlined the collection and implemented 24-Door-to-Floor workflow for shelving returned materials. In 2011, she became the Fiction Buyer for the CCPL system, working with both author events and merchandising. In 2012, she became the Collection Development Manager, centralizing selection for the system and launching a floating collection. Wendy has several publications to her credit, including Floating Collections: A Collection Development Model for Long-Term Success. She is a member of Library Journal’s Review Advisory Committee for 2021.


Matt Enis, Senior Editor, Technology, Library Journal


Kiera Parrott is the Director of Darien Library (CT), a Library Journal 5 Star Library. Before taking on her current role in September 2020, Parrott served as the Reviews and Production Director for Library Journal and School Library Journal, where she oversaw the publication of over 12,000 book and media reviews annually and launched and expanded numerous professional development events and training courses for library professionals nationwide. Kiera’s been a proud library worker since her teen years, working as a page for the Queensborough Public Library in high school, as a reference assistant at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst during college, and as a senior librarian for the New York Public Library. She previously worked at Darien Library from 2008–2013 as a children’s/collection development librarian and as Head of Children’s Services. She lives in Norwalk with her husband (also a librarian) and their two cats. 



Lisa Peet, News Editor, Library Journal


Meredith Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal




Platinum Sponsors






Gold Sponsors







We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing