Library Journal Summit: Building the Next Normal

Join LJ for our Winter Summit: Building the Next Normal, taking place on February 23, 2021

This free, day-long, virtual convening will feature library leaders at all levels who will discuss lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and share actionable ideas on how you can incorporate them into your post-COVID strategy. 

The coronavirus has forced systems to reexamine their services and policies from scratch, leading to gains in accessible events, workforce flexibility, increased urgency around staff safety and a view of internal and patron-facing issues through an equitable lens. With live events, coworking, and other space-sharing staples coming back online, librarians are looking for guidance on ways to navigate the continuing practical and emotional challenges, weather the associated economic fallout, and come out the other side stronger than before. 

Featured Keynote, Speakers and Topics Include: 

  • Keynote Don Lemon, of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, will share his perspective after years as a breaking news television reporter and anchor, as well as details about his forthcoming title, This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism
  • Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Executive Director of the Mid-Hudson Library System, will discuss the opportunities library leaders have to build community resilience in light of recent events and co-create a new future for their library and their community using regenerative thinking.

  • Co-Founders Greg Peverill-Conti and Adam Zand from the Library Land Project will demonstrate the value of assessing the library through a patron’s eyes. 

  • Librarian Reserve Corps Founder and LJ's 2021 Librarian of the Year Elaine Hicks will present on how to fight the “infodemic” to help patrons safeguard their and their loved one’s health.

  • Library leaders will discuss the future of collection strategy and reader’s advisory; service models and transformational changes to meet the needs of patrons and staff; improved management and communication methods to support frontline workers, and setting and achieving concrete Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion goals. 

Summit Hours:  10:00 AM ET - 5:00 PM ET


By registering for this event you confirm that you have read and agree to our Code of Conduct.

Live attendance is limited, so you may find the environment or live sessions become full during the day. But don’t worry! Sessions will be available for viewing on-demand within 24 hours of their initial broadcast, and the entire event will be available on-demand until May 23, 2021.

If you have any questions, email us at

If you are a service provider or publisher and would like to sponsor the event, please contact Advertising Director Roy Futterman.

Keynote with Don Lemon
Hear CNN’s Don Lemon discuss his perspective after years as a breaking news television reporter and anchor, and learn more about his forthcoming title, This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism
Moderator: Meredith Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal

The Just Transition
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Executive Director of the Mid-Hudson Library System, will discuss the opportunities library leaders have to build community resilience in light of recent events and co-create a new future for their library and their community using regenerative thinking.
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Executive Director, Mid-Hudson Library System
Introduced by: Meredith Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal

What’s Next for Collection Strategy and Readers Advisory
The shift of so many collection dollars and checkouts to e-content, the rollback of the Macmillan embargo, widespread temporary loosening of permissions, the Internet Archive’s emergency library and lawsuit, and now the Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster consolidation and the prospect of a DPLA/Amazon deal have reopened questions about what patrons wants from library econtent and how publishers and libraries can sustainably work together. Meanwhile, closed browsing has forced librarians into coming up with creative solutions to enabling backlist discovery and connecting readers to new authors. How are libraries reinventing this core function, including audio and video content?

Lisa Rosenblum, Executive Director, King County Library System
Kelvin Watson, Director of Libraries, Broward County Libraries Division
Moderator: Neal Wyatt, Reviews Editor, Library Journal

See Your Library Through Your Patron’s Eyes 
The Library Land Project looks at public libraries from the patron's perspective. They will share their experiences, as well as a new rubric, now in beta testing, to assess the library experience from the point of view of a user walking through the door for the first time. The Project is seeking thoughts and input as it refines its process and broadens its reach to public library branches all across America.
Greg Peverill-Conti & Adam Zand, Co-Founders, Library Land Project
Introduced by: Lisa Peet, LJ News Editor

Planning for Equity 
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) mission statements and teams are only the first step. To make EDI a core library priority, it must be operationalized, measured--and funded. Hear from library leaders who are incorporating quantifiable EDI goals into their budgets, strategic plans, and partnerships.
Elsworth Carmen, Library Director, Iowa City Public Library
Michael Lambert, City Librarian, City and County of San Francisco
Moderator: Meredith Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal

Fighting COVID Misinformation in Your Library 
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim thousands of lives a day, misinformation is a major barrier to public health efforts. Librarian Reserve Corps Founder and LJ's 2021 Librarian of the Year Elaine Hicks will present on how you can fight the “infodemic” to help patrons safeguard their and their loved ones’ health.
Elaine Hicks, Founder, Librarian Reserve Corps
Introduced by: Meredith Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal

What Staff Really Want 
Concerns around racial justice, COVID safety, police in the library, budget cuts, and more have surfaced ways in which traditional library policies, and methods that management uses to communicate with frontline workers, are no longer working for employees. Hear from library leaders about how they are working together to address those issues, and providing support for staff as well as patrons. 
Ed Garcia, Library Director, Cranston Public Library
Ramiro Salazar, Library Director, San Antonio Public Library
Moderator: Lisa Peet, LJ News Editor

The Long Haul: How COVID Is Changing Libraries
Libraries have made major shifts to their service models to meet their community’s changing needs during the pandemic, while keeping staff and patrons safe. Once the vaccine rollout is complete and herd immunity is reached, which of those transformational changes will revert, and which will--or should--become a permanent part of our toolkit? What will patrons expect?  And what do we need to do to prepare for the next major disruption?
Veronda Pitchford, Assistant Director, Califa Group
Moderator: Matt Enis, LJ Senior Technology Editor



Don Lemon joined CNN in September 2006 and anchors CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, airing weeknights at 10 p.m. Lemon has reported and anchored on-the-scene from many breaking news stories including the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and the George Zimmerman trial. Lemon reported for CNN’s documentary Race and Rage: The Beating of Rodney King, which aired twenty years to the day after the beating. He is also known for holding politicians and public officials accountable in his “No Talking Points” segment. In 2009, Ebony named him as one of the Ebony Power 150: the most influential Blacks in America. He has won an Edward R. Murrow award for his coverage of the capture of the Washington, DC, snipers, an Emmy for a special report on real estate in Chicagoland, and various other awards for his reporting on the AIDS epidemic in Africa and Hurricane Katrina. Lemon serves as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College, teaching and participating in curriculum designed around new media. He earned a degree in broadcast journalism from Brooklyn College and also attended Louisiana State University. Lemon’s forthcoming book, This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism, will come out March 16 from Little, Brown and Company, part of Hachette Book Group.


Elsworth Carman is the Director of the Iowa City Public Library. He has a career-long passion for creating hospitable, welcoming public spaces and has worked in libraries in New Jersey; Washington, DC; Illinois, and Iowa. Elsworth has published and presented widely on inclusivity in library service design and the intersection of transgender/queer experience and libraries.


Ed Garcia is the Library Director at the Cranston Public Library in Cranston, RI, a position he has held since 2012. Ed is a proud graduate of the University of Rhode Island and received his MLIS in 2008. He was a 2010 ALA Emerging Leader and 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. Under his leadership the Cranston Public Library was awarded the 2020 Jerry Kline Community Prize. He is currently serving as a member of the Executive Board of the American Library Association and is a candidate for ALA President 2022-2023. He is a happily married father of 16 year old twin sons.


Elaine Hicks, MS/LIS, MPH, MCHES merged three occupations into the work of a public health librarian: nutrition educator, public health educator and librarian. A recent product of this body of knowledge and skills was the creation of the Librarian Reserve Corps, a mash-up of public health emergency preparedness training and library/information science needed to catalog the avalanche of daily scientific publication distributed by the WHO library to the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. As the public health librarian at the Rudolph Matas Library of the Health Sciences of Tulane University, she works with patrons from the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine to help them find, retrieve, evaluate and (ethically) use the information which becomes evidence as a result of their scholarship.


Michael Lambert is the City Librarian for the City and County of San Francisco. During his tenure, the San Francisco Public Library was named the 2018 National Library of the Year by Library Journal. Previously, Lambert managed library operations at San Mateo County Libraries and at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina. He is a proud alumnus of the University of South Carolina with a degree in History and earned his MLIS from South Carolina’s College of Library & Information Science. Michael also serves on the Our Children Our Families Council, the University of San Francisco’s University Council on Diversity and Inclusion (UCDI) and the University of South Carolina’s – College of Information & Communication, Dean’s Leadership Council. Lambert was born in Seoul, Korea and is the first Asian-American to lead the San Francisco Public Library.


Greg Peverill-Conti and Adam Zand are the co-founders of the Library Land Project, a nonprofit whose educational mission is to explore, document, and promote public libraries and their essential role in our communities. The pair rediscovered their love of libraries when they needed "office space" when they started their PR agency, SharpOrange. Over the past three years, they have visited more than 300 public libraries around the country and will be visiting more as soon as possible. Greg was an on-call substitute librarian in Dover, Mass. before the pandemic, and is currently pursuing his MLIS degree at the University of Alabama. Adam has an MBA from Northeastern University and loves working with clients on strategic planning. You can learn more at



Veronda J. Pitchford is the Assistant Director of Califa Group, a nonprofit library membership consortium of more than 230 libraries and is the largest library network in California. She is the PI for the Libraries As Second Responders grant project funded by the  Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) which will develop trainings to prepare public library staff to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic to better serve communities most impacted by COVID targeting BIPOCs who nationally were the most impacted by COVID. At the heart of the project is solidifying the library’s role as part of the community’s Second Responder team that contributes to recovery, restoration of viability, and continuity for residents. In 2005 she was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Relations and Communications from Central Michigan University and a Masters in Library and Information Science, (summa cum laude) from North Carolina Central University, a historically Black university in Durham, North Carolina. She is a die hard library chick.



Lisa Rosenblum is Executive Director for King County Library System. She currently serves on the University of Washington Information School MLIS Advisory Board, and previously served on the Metropolitan New York Library Council Board of Directors, and Pratt Institute School of Information (Brooklyn) Board of Advisors. Ms. Rosenblum holds a master’s degree in library science from San Jose State University. She is a Fellow of the Urban Libraries Council Executive Leadership Institute and participated in the Stanford Institute on 21st Century Librarianship. She has also been a lecturer for the Schools of Library and Information Science at both the Pratt Institute and San Jose State University.


Ramiro S. Salazar is the Director of the San Antonio Public Library, where he has served for fifteen years. As director, he provides management oversight for a library system consisting of the downtown Central Library, 29 branch libraries and leads a team of over 550 employees. Before joining the San Antonio Public Library, Ramiro served as Interim Assistant City Manager for the City of Dallas, Texas. Prior to that, he served as the Director of Libraries for the Dallas Public Library. He also served as Director of Libraries for the El Paso Public Library, City of El Paso, Texas. Ramiro is currently serving on the Local Government Hispanic Network, a subsidiary of International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Most recently, he served on the American Library Association Future of Libraries Committee and the US Census 2020 Task Force.


Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MLS, LEED AP, is the executive director of the Mid-Hudson Library System, a 66-member public library consortium in New York State. Author of Sustainable Thinking: Ensuring Your Library's Future in an Uncertain World (2018) and Resilience (2018), part of the Library Futures Series, Rebekkah is a frequent international speaker on practical ways to ensure libraries are relevant and responsive to those they serve. Rebekkah was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2010 and is a past judge for the New Landmark Libraries project at Library Journal.



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If you are a service provider or publisher and would like to sponsor the event, please contact Advertising Director Roy Futterman.


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