Library Journal Summit: Building the Next Normal

Join LJ for our Winter Summit: Building the Next Normal

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; and improved management and communication methods to support frontline workers.

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.

The Just Transition
If the pandemic had any silver lining, it brought systemic economic, societal, and environmental inequities into focus, and the time for change is long overdue. Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Executive Director of the Mid-Hudson Library System and author of Sustainable Thinking and Resilience from ALA Editions, 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


Announcing the 2021 Jerry Kline Community Impact Prize
Learn how your public library can enter to win the Jerry Kline Community Impact Prize. Hear from the award sponsor and LJ editor on the revised criteria, and the winners of the 2019 and 2020 Prizes on what a difference winning the $250,000 prize has made or will make to their library and community.
Ed Garcia, Library Director, Cranston Public Library
Rivkah Sass, Director/CEO, Sacramento Public Library, CA


Sponsored Sessions

Reinventing the Patron Experience (Communico Technologies)
The pandemic has shifted the needs of communities and the way libraries are able to support them. In this session we breakdown these drivers of change and the resulting services libraries are offering their communities. 

Making Normal Better Than Ever - Using Technology to Unleash Library Circulation (FE Technologies)
FE Technology introduces ways to better manage their circulation using our suite of unique and innovative return solutions. With our Smart Bins, intelligent Returns, and Sort Assistant, patron accounts are immediately cleared, and items are processed and ready to pick up or reshelve at a rate of 5 times faster than "normal" with fewer touches.  Our touchless kiosks and Librarian Rover provides patron experiences that far exceed normal, creating a warm and friendly atmosphere as patrons return to the library. 

Why We Need to Build a New Normal (Innovative Interfaces)
Tom Jacobson discussed a 2020 research report on how patrons are changing the way they access the library and how the library can meet their new expectations

What’s Next for Collection Strategy and Readers Advisory
Shifting so much of collection budgets and so many checkouts to e-content has reopened questions about what patrons want and how publishers and libraries can sustainably work together. Meanwhile, closed browsing has forced librarians to develop creative solutions to enable backlist discovery and connect readers to new authors. Hear how some libraries are reinventing these core functions to meet the evolving needs of both leadership and the community. 

Brian J. Kenney, Director, White Plains Public Library
Lisa Rosenblum, Executive Director, King County Library System

Kelvin Watson, Executive Director, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District
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


Sponsored Sessions 

LocalHop Library Demo (LocalHop)
LocalHop event management software is user-friendly and new features and enhancements are added each month! Check out one of our recent library demos in the link. Visit our booth to learn about our newest service, custom websites, and help us with our development roadmap for 2021 and 2022!

Digital library trends from COVID-19 (Overdrive)
When public libraries closed their buildings in March 2020 in response to the global pandemic, users increasingly turned to their library’s collection of ebooks and audiobooks. Join us as we share best practices for responding to this increased demand for digital and provide an industry-wide view of ebook and audiobook usage in response to COVID-19. These valuable data-driven insights and creative strategies will provide a useful path forward for libraries of all shapes and sizes

Miles Apart: Minimizing the COVID Achievement Gap (Playaway)
Right now, it's estimated that students could lose an average of five to nine months of learning by the end of the school due to the pandemic. This presentation explores the growing achievement gap and how teachers and librarians can continue to eliminate barriers to learning for all students, regardless of circumstance.

About PressReader (Pressreader)
Come learn about PressReader’s unlimited access to 7,000 premium newspapers and magazines from 120+ countries in 60+ languages. Interactive: Built for an engaging reading experience. With search functionality, topic alerts, collections and instant translation in up to 20 languages and downloads that last forever!

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. How can libraries counter the ocean of false claims? 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 Amandeep Kochar, EVP and Business Head, Baker & Taylor

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 are no longer working for staff. To stay aligned with frontline workers, management may need a fresh approach—one that emphasizes transparency, communication, and worker involvement in decision making. Hear from library leaders about how they are working together with their teams 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
Kaitlin Stacy, Reference Librarian, Haverhill Public Library

Moderator: Lisa Peet, LJ News Editor

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.
Introduced by: Meredith Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal


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? And what do we need to do to prepare for the next major disruption?

Nicolle Davies, Assistant Commissioner, Colorado State Library
Jennifer Pearson, Director, Marshall County Memorial Library System
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.




Nicolle Ingui Davies serves as the State Librarian for Colorado. Davies holds both a Master’s in Public Administration and a Master’s in Library and Information Sciences. Davies returned to Colorado from her position as Executive Director of the Charleston County Public Library (SC), where she designed five new libraries, introduced new technology, and established a progressive service delivery model. Prior to her time in South Carolina, Davies served as the Executive Director of the Arapahoe Library District (CO), during which time she was named Library Journal’s 2016 Librarian of the Year. Before coming to libraries, Davies worked in broadcast journalism and public relations.



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.


Brian Kenney has worked as both a librarian and an editor, including stints with Library Journal and School Library Journal, where he was editor in chief. For the past decade he has served as the director of the White Plains Public Library (NY).


Jennifer Pearson is the Director of the Marshall County (TN) Memorial Library System. Jennifer is passionate about community building and how the public library can be central to a thriving community. Jennifer’s background includes over 10 years working for OCLC where she honed her skills in library advocacy, marketing and public relations. While at OCLC Jennifer helped to develop and then manage the Geek the Library advocacy program. Jennifer also worked with public libraries to extend access to e-books via the Big Shift project, create vibrant outdoor spaces and events via the Redbox funded Outside the Box program and taught libraries how to use community based advocacy to extend their reach to their communities and stakeholders. Jennifer currently serves as the Past President of the Association of Rural &Small Libraries.


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.


Kaitlin Stacy is a Reference Librarian at the Haverhill Public Library in Haverhill, MA. She graduated with her B.A. in English Literature from Marshall University in Huntington, WV in 2015, followed by her MSLIS in Public Libraries from the University of Kentucky in 2019. Her passion for public libraries started at a young age in her home state of West Virginia and only grew as she learned more about the innovative ways libraries served their communities. She’s currently working closely with her department to provide services and virtual programming in accordance with COVID-19 policies. In her free time, she teaches horseback riding lessons in Plympton, MA.

Kelvin Watson is the new Executive Director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District effective February 16, 2021. Mr. Watson joins the Library District from his role as the director of the Broward County Libraries Division, where he made transformative changes. He has led ambitious and innovative initiatives that have positioned the Broward County Libraries as a community leader and Florida’s 2020 Library of Year by streamlining access to resources, introducing new technology, developing partnerships & new collaborative relationships with internal agencies and external organizations. Throughout his career, Mr. Watson has remained active and involved in professional associations, has been a frequent speaker and panelist at conferences, has been published in national library literature, and has been recognized numerous times for his work. 


Neal Wyatt, LJ Reviews Editor, is a noted expert in collection development and readers’ advisory services. She created Book Pulse for LJ and is currently working on a new edition of Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library.


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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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