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American Library Conference - So Much More!

The American Library Conference was held at McCormick Place from June 22-27, 2023. I was able to attend on Sunday. I was able to attend two panel discussions at the conference. The first presentation was on Fighting Book Bans. There is so much is available on this topic, I don't feel I need to go into it. Advancing Social Justice with Young Adult Literature was the second panel discussion I attended. This panel was a group of young writers, all in their early 20’s, writing YA literature. They wrote within their LGBTQ+ experience. The current YA writing experience for these authors is political - as one writer stated, “My existence is political”. The authors felt that the social justice movement within their writing was normal for younger people so writing in that framework was not ground breaking. Kids need to see themselves in literature. Peers need to see others in literature that are different from themselves to create empathy. Socially conscious historical fiction centered around the horror, turmoil and grief of the holocaust created empathy and understanding. Similarly, the panelists felt that by writing about what is happening today in the LGBTQ+ community and their personal stories, empathy and understanding will be created. It was also interesting to note that the writers all wanted to make sure there was not only diversity, but diversity within the diversity. One panelist is LGBTQ+ autistic, one is trans Native American, another black and gay. Each layer of representation matters. The final thought from this discussion was: Books leave you fundamentally changed. Each story is very personal to the author and the reader.

There were so many vendors at the conference, it was unbelievable! - As a reader, I could have spent the whole conference in the vendor area. I was blown away by the amount of products/services/items available to libraries. A large number of culturally/socially inclusive books were prominently on display. Many of the publishers had Pride and POC authors and storylines on display. There was defiantly a push to make all groups were seen in the book market, especially in the children’s section. I was able to bring back a number of children’s books (some signed) for the librarians to use.

POSTER PRESENTATIONS I had no idea what a poster presentation was so I was completely overwhelmed by the programs that were presented. Think of a science project concept for the poster presentation. Some of the best:

  • ✦ Comparing Libraries Best Practices: “Around the World in 80 Libraries”

  • ✦ Living Knowledge - British Library Partnership to Maximize Impact - The British Library is setting up "Sister Library" programs throughout the world.

  • ✦ Social Workers in Libraries - In rural and urban areas libraries are a community hub and a safe space. Social workers or librarians with some social work training within the library are incredibly helpful to a community.

  • ✦ Representation Matters: An Inclusive Marketing Campaign-a marketing strategy to tell the community that everyone in the community is welcome and that the library has materials and services for them.

  • ✦ Community Engagement from the Ground Up-creating pathways to strengthening current community ties, then focus on new partnerships.

  • I am so thankful to Helen Plum Library that I was able to attend this conference!

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