LibLearnX Launches

The American Library Association’s new winter conference makes its virtual debut with a focus on active learning.

The American Library Association (ALA) reinvents the erstwhile Midwinter Meeting. Originally scheduled to take place January 21–24 in San Antonio, TX, LibLearnX is being held virtually instead, ALA announced in September. Future iterations are planned to be held in person: The 2023 conference is scheduled for New Orleans, January 27–31. 2024–26 dates are expected to be announced soon.

Designed in response to surveyed members’ priorities and focused on active learning, the conference offers four distinct session types: two-hour accelerators, focused on “out-of-the-box ideas that challenge traditional thinking”; 30-minute Ideas Xchange, designed to support informal peer-to-peer sharing; 15–20 minute ShopTalks focused on practical tips and/or a specific project; and 60-minute collaborative Learning Labs. Learning Labs are further categorized as high, medium, or low engagement, so attendees can choose a comfortable level of interaction. Sessions will be scheduled in Central time.

Featured speakers include authors Angeline Boulley, Cicely Lewis, Molly Shannon, Mariko Tamaki, Jacqueline Woodson, and Kelly Yang. Attendees can interact with exhibits in the LLX Marketplace, and with one another during social activities and scheduled networking breaks. As did Midwinter, LibLearnX will host the ALA Youth Media Awards (including the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and Coretta Scott King Book Awards), the I Love My Librarian Awards, and an array of ALA governance sessions.

While the full schedule was not yet available at press time, below are some selections that caught our editors’ eye. Visit for the full schedule when it is posted.



Strategies for Inclusion and Diversity; Building Business Communities in Public Libraries
Libraries Build Business cohort members will lead this interactive session on what centering equity, diversity, and inclusion look like for business assistance programs and partnerships.



Problematic Authors and Problematic Works—An Intellectual Freedom Q&A
The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC), in conjunction with the Office for Intellectual Freedom, is putting together a Q&A document to clarify how library staff should handle authors and creators deemed problematic. IFC members will present the document, facilitate discussion, and solicit feedback.

Sort It Out! In-House Classification Systems for Comics and Graphic Novels
Due to frequent renumbering of titles and changes in creative teams, comics and graphic novels can become confusing to shelve and for patrons to find. Staff from libraries across the country share the in-house classification systems they use to keep their comics collections in order.

Supporting Indie Authors
New York City Library Asst. Manager and indie novelist Tejas Desai will lead a discussion about how libraries can continue and expand support for indie authors through collection development, programming, and resource assistance.

                            Cicely Lewis, Kelly Yang, Molly Shannon



Advancing Race and Social Equity in Library Communications
Staff of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System in Maryland discuss best practices for advancing race and social equity in library communications. Panelists represent executive leadership, public services, and communications and will address collaboration across teams.

Anchoring Our Communities: Developing Opportunities for Community-Engaged Research
Learn how the business librarian at the University of Louisville is developing community-engaged research projects to connect local Black-owned businesses with university resources. Attendees will work in small groups to develop their own community-based research proposals.

Bullying, Incivility, and You: Applying Strategies from Nursing to Library Work Environments
Research from the field of nursing, which shares with libraries a similar workforce and service orientation, yields strategies and frameworks to address and resolve workplace incivility and bullying through high-impact interventions. Small participant groups will role-play scenarios in a guided exercise. For more on improving internal culture, see the “Creating Psychological Safety for Your Teams” session.

Disrupting “Fit”: Improving Recruitment and Retention in Academic Library Hiring
Relying on “fit” in hiring criteria reinforces exclusionary practices, which may drive candidates to opt out of job opportunities and work cultures. In this interactive session, participants will discuss their experiences with academic library hiring and explore methods to reduce bias in job advertisements and search procedures.

Diversity, Author Identity, and Metadata: Encouraging the Discovery of Hidden Voices
There is no easy way to find out whether a particular piece of content was written by a member of a marginalized group. Further, not all authors want or feel safe to disclose all aspects of their identity, nor do they necessarily self-define in standardized ways. An overview conversation will address ethical, practical, and legal ramifications for stakeholders throughout the book supply chain, followed by an extended Q&A with an academic librarian, an aggregator, and a publisher.

Let’s Talk About It: Developing Training Programs for Difficult Topics
Learn how Texas’s Plano Public Library created staff-led, informative sessions that enabled them to share timely information, encourage dialogue, and empower staff.

Misinformation Escape Room: Building Misinformation Literacy Through an Immersive Learning Experience
Participants will take part in a escape room designed by the University of Washington that immerses teams of four to six players “in a world of manipulated media, social media bots, deepfakes, and other forms of misinformation.”

Nature-Based Public Library Programming To Build Community
Explore ways to bring the mental and physical health benefits of nature-based programming such as stargazing, nature walks, outdoor exercise programs, gardening, kayaking, birdwatching, foraging, and utilizing field guides to underserved urban areas, thus helping to achieve community-building and support, equity, environmental justice, and innovation. Learn how to tackle traditional barriers to nature faced by marginalized communities and individuals, including safety, education, accessibility, and transportation.

Personalization in the Catalog with Machine Learning and Linked Data
King County Library System has partnered with BiblioCommons on a pilot project to create a machine learning system to produce personalized recommendations of library services for patrons. The project uses modular content, linked metadata, patron behavioral data, the patron’s profile and contextual data, and anonymized behavioral click data. Hear a summary of the findings and next steps.

Practical Tools for Implementing a Collection Diversity Audit
Participants will learn how to create and conduct a diversity audit of their collection, evaluate materials for inclusivity, and develop strategies for patrons to find representative material in collections.

Using Technology To Adapt and Expand Library Services to the Incarcerated
To continue to serve patrons incarcerated at the Rikers Island jail complex during the pandemic, Queens and Brooklyn Public Libraries partnered to use tablets being rolled out by the Department of Corrections to provide tailored programs, reference, and mail-a-book services. Librarians will share their learning from this project as well as creative options for librarians with limited resources who are nonetheless interested in expanding outreach to local jails and prisons.

What Keeps Us Growing? A Discussion About Late-Career Motivation—For Everyone
Discussion and polling will compile common experiences of “senior” library workers before a look at the research. Participants will discuss what kind of support and challenges late-career librarians need, whether it’s the same as late-career workers in other fields, and whether it matters where you are in the hierarchy or what kind of library you are in. Participants will take away ideas for sustaining themselves or their colleagues and employees through this stage of their work life. 

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Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz ( is Editor-in-Chief of Library Journal.

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