California Dreamin’ | ALA Annual 2024 Preview

This year’s American Library Association Annual Conference will be held June 27 – July 2 in San Diego, CA, where Pacific Ocean breezes and dry air will likely keep daytime temperatures in the low ’70s and nights 10 degrees cooler. Add in the San Diego Convention Center’s bayfront setting and nearby attractions that include Balboa Park, home to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Museum of Art, and Mission Beach a 15-minute car trip away, and this year’s Annual is one to look forward to.

Along with a strong programming lineup, the location can’t be beat

Library convention locales often speak more to endurance than enjoyment—in recent memory an exquisitely hot and humid 2016 in Orlando, and any number of frigid Midwinters in Chicago and Boston. But this year’s American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference will be held June 27 – July 2 in San Diego, CA, where Pacific Ocean breezes and dry air will likely keep daytime temperatures in the low ’70s and nights 10 degrees cooler. Add in the San Diego Convention Center’s bayfront setting and nearby attractions that include Balboa Park, home to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Museum of Art, and Mission Beach a 15-minute car trip away, and this year’s Annual is one to look forward to.

Assuming that attendees won’t be spending their entire weekend surfing, the conference itself promises a solid lineup of speakers, informational programs, poster sessions, author talks, film screenings, and more, plus a show floor that—if January’s LibLearnX was any preview—will be humming. Friday night the conference will open with a Rally for the Right to Read Reception, which will honor the recipients of ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Awards and celebrate work being done by new and veteran advocates.

As at previous gatherings, the big topics continue to spotlight issues around the freedom to read and anticensorship action, the continued presence of artificial intelligence (AI) in library work, and the need for ever more equitable ser-vices to serve communities large and small. A conference the size of Annual, however, also offers the chance to drill down into what can feel like impossibly large-scale subjects and zero in on interesting angles, such as building equity via arts and sciences in the library, services for the incarcerated, the complex landscape of library-publisher relationships, voter initiatives, AI’s transformation of literacy instruction, and many more tracks for every interest.

Below is a selection of events and programs that caught the attention of LJ editors. For a more complete listing, see the full schedule. And keep an eye out on our website for LJ’s Galley Guide, appearing mid-June. —Lisa Peet


Jill Cox-Cordova

Associate Editor, LJ Reviews

Innovation often begets innovation. That’s what will likely happen during “From Makerspace to Marketplace.” Presenters will discuss their successful 12-week program for people who’ve always wanted to launch their own businesses but didn’t know how to start. Speaking of gaining knowledge, the session about Black women and girls’ naturally grown hair is a history lesson, a current events discussion, self-love tips, and a celebration all rolled into one dynamic presentation.

 

From Makerspace to Marketplace: Libraries as Launchpads for Entrepreneurs
Sat., June 29, 9 -10 a.m. (SDCC 8)

Celebrate Black Hair and Address Discrimination with Wisdom from My Divine Natural Hair and If My Hair Had a Voice
Sat., June 29, 9:30 - 10:20 a.m. (Exhibit Hall – Diversity in Publishing Stage, Booth 2250)


Matt Enis

Senior Editor, Technology, LJ

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is about to transform so much about work and education, and I’ve just been trying to keep up with the flood of recent news. I’m sure there will be more about AI during the Top Tech Trends panel on Monday, July 1, and there are additional AI presentations and panels throughout the show. These two look promising for anyone interested in the impact AI is having on the library field, and how libraries can help patrons navigate this rapidly evolving technology.

 

Breaking Boundaries: Harnessing the Power of Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT to Transform Library Services
Sat., June 29, 9 – 10 a.m. (SDCC, 30 ABCDE)

CALA President’s Program & Posters 2024: A Panel Discussion on Artificial Intelligence’s Impact on Libraries
Sun., June 30, 1 – 3 p.m. (SDCC, 26 AB)


Melissa DeWild

Associate Editor, LJ Reviews

I always appreciate the opportunity to discover new authors at library conferences. I’m especially looking forward to moder-ating the United for Libraries First Novels author panel, featuring some of this season’s most anticipated debut novels. There are so many great comics programs on the schedule too, including the GNCRT President’s Program Queer Joy in Comics, with several fantastic comics creators such as LJ Best Book author Mariko Tamaki.

 

First Novels: An Author Panel
Sat., June 29, 9 – 10 a.m. (SDCC 24C)

GNCRT President’s Program—Queer Joy in Comics
Sat., June 29, 9 – 10:30 a.m. (SDCC 11A)


Sarah Hashimoto

Editor, LJ Reviews

It’s Pride Month! This year’s conference offers programs celebrating LGBTQIA+ books, writers, and community members while acknowledging the challenges that authors and librarians may encounter as they bring stories and services into the world. These programs provide a sobering look at soft censorship of LGBTQIA+ materials and its effect on publishing, to-gether with an energizing discussion about developing LGBTQIA+-affirming programs, collections, and spaces.

 

Soft Censorship of LGBTQIA+ Content and its Chilling Effect on the Children’s Book World
Sat., June 29, 1 – 2 p.m. (SDCC 23ABC)

The Library Is Open to ALL: LGBTQIA+ Community Engagement at the San Diego Public Library!
Mon., July 1, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. (SDCC 23ABC)


Lisa Peet

Executive Editor, LJ

I’m interested in seeing how libraries have continued the work of looking outward to help shape their missions. The concept of community-centered policy planning strikes me as something that more libraries should be doing, and I want to hear about those efforts in action. And since the library is the best place I can conceive of to get future generations thinking about civic life, human rights, and equity, I want to hear more about how San Diego Public Library has been teaching youth how to make real change.

 

Reclaiming the Narrative: Policy Conversations that Center Community
Sat., June 29, 4 – 5 p.m. (SDCC 5A)

City as a Classroom: Empowering Youth to Rewrite Law
Sat., June 29, 4 – 5 p.m. (SDCC 3)


Hallie Rich

Editor-in-Chief, LJ

ALA Annual is where I meet colleagues, visit with library pals, and find inspiration. I never miss the Carnegie Medal Awards Ceremony—past ceremonies with award-winners and presenters such as Anthony Doerr, Billy Collins, Rebecca Makkai, and Ed Yong stand out as special lifetime literary experiences. A session on Sunday led by visionaries considering the future of libraries will undoubtedly provoke new ideas!

 

Andrew Carnegie Medals Award Ceremony
Sat., June 29, 7 – 10 p.m. (TBD)

Back to the Future: Predictions from Library 2035
Sun., June 30, 1 – 2 p.m. (SDCC 28ABC)


Sarah Wolberg

Associate Editor, LJ Reviews

ALA Annual has a number of programs about developing early-career library workers and introducing new populations of workers into the library ecosystem, including one session about an exciting initiative teaching librarianship skills to high school Career and Technical Education students and another about introducing social work–trained students to working in libraries.

 

Cultivating Community Relationships: Bridging the Gap Between Libraries and High School Career & Technical Education
Sat., June 29, 9 – 10 a.m. (SDCC 3)

Developing the Next Generation of Library Social Workers
Sat., June 29, 1 – 2 p.m. (SDCC 11B)


Neal Wyatt

Reviews Editor, LJ

Tickets are required for the luminary event, which showcases authors selected from the RUSA Book & Media lists, such as Notable Books, the Reading List, the Listen List, and more. What could be better than hearing from authors chosen by librarians expressly focused on picking books readers will love? And on that note, many librarians are becoming authors them-selves (see our list at Display Shelf | Librarian Authors) and have long contributed to the scholarly discourse. A panel that digs into the range of publishing options available to author-librarians seems just the ticket.

 

Literary Luminaries: Celebrating the Best Reading of the Year
Sun., June 30, 8 – 10 a.m. (Marriott Marquis, Grand Blrm Section 5)

Publishing 101: Traditional, Hybrid, Independent, Self
Mon., July 1, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. (SDCC 5A)

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