2024 LibLearnX Preview

Baltimore | January 19–22

January 2, 2024

2024 LibLearnX Preview

LibLearnX heads to the Charm City this year, and what place could B’more enticing?

The American Library Association’s (ALA) LibLearnX conference will be held January 19–22, bringing collaborative learning activities, networking opportunities, celebrations, and author talks to the city of Baltimore. Designed for active learning, the conference will offer more than 100 educational programs in returning formats—Accelerators, Ideas Xchanges, Learning Labs, and ShopTalks—created by and for library workers. New this year are three Timely Topics, categories of sessions pertaining to information professionals’ most asked-about issues: artificial intelligence (AI), intellectual freedom, and sustainability.

This preview represents a sampling of the sessions that will be held onsite. (For those interested in attending virtually, see below to learn about the LLX Digital Experience.) For a full list of sessions and conference information, visit liblearnx.org.

Main Stage Speaker

Michele Norris
Michele Norris

Peabody Award–winning journalist Michele Norris will open LibLearnX with a discussion of her new book, Our Hidden Conversations: What Americans Really Think about Race and Identity (Simon & Schuster, January). The title is a compilation of stories, essays, and photographs that provide an in-depth look at present-day America during a tumultuous era of issues surrounding race, identity, and class. Norris is a columnist for The Washington Post’s Opinions section and host of the podcast Your Mama’s Kitchen. 8–9:15 a.m. Saturday, January 20

Author Speakers in the LLX Studio

Mia Armstrong
Mia Armstrong

Mia Armstrong is a child actor, model, voiceover artist, and activist. In 2022, with her role in the show Action Pack, she made history as the first child with Down syndrome to provide a voice for a cartoon character on Netflix. Her debut picture book, I Am a Masterpiece! (Random House Books for Young Readers, January), chronicles her childhood living with Down syndrome. 11 a.m.–noon Sunday, January 21

Antonia Hylton
Antonia Hylton

Antonia Hylton has won Peabody and Emmy awards as a correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC and cohosts the Southlake podcast. She will discuss her new book, Madness: Race and Insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum (Legacy Lit, January), which tells the story of the Crownsville Hospital in Maryland, one of the nation’s last segregated asylums with surviving records, and explores the legacy of how Black families grapple with mental health. 3–4 p.m. Saturday, January 20

George M. Johnson
George M. Johnson

Award-winning author, journalist, and activist George M. Johnson will be discussing their 2020 memoir, All Boys Aren’t Blue. The memoir covers their life growing up Black and queer in the US and addresses topics of racism, gender identity, and toxic masculinity. All Boys Aren’t Blue was one of ALA’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021 and 2022, and Johnson served as honorary chair for Banned Books Week 2022.

Jesús Trejo

Comedian, actor, and author Jesús Trejo’s debut picture book, Papá’s Magical Water-Jug Clock, was published last June. His new children’s book, Raising Mamá’s Plantitas (Minerva, October), is a story about a young boy taking on responsibility and experiencing personal growth. 1–2 p.m. Saturday, January 20

Education Programs

ALA has four types of active learning experiences during LibLearnX:

  • Accelerators are led by facilitators and designed to introduce attendees to new ideas and challenge traditional thinking. Accelerator sessions last approximately two hours.
  • Ideas Xchanges are about 30 minutes each and feature creative projects shared in peer-to-peer conversations.
  • Learning Labs delve into current issues with action-based instruction and collaborative learning. Sessions are usually one hour and focus on methods, approaches, and opportunities that attendees can immediately apply in their libraries. Learning Labs may include panels, Q&As, polls and surveys, games, and breakout discussions.
  • ShopTalks are bite-sized presentations, 15–20 minutes long, that focus on a specific idea, project, or workshop. They’re ideal for learning about hot topics and picking up practical tips.

Some of the more than 100 education programs, in eight primary content areas, include:

Books and Authors

Breathing Life into Difficult Histories and Engaging Children toward Ethical Citizenship through Fiction
1–2 p.m. Saturday, January 20

Authors and cousins Janis Bridger and Lara Jean Okihiro will share how they went from working in elementary and university libraries to writing their 2023 children’s novel, Obaasan’s Boots, inspired by their shared family history. In this session, attendees will learn how to better engage young readers emotionally with the use of historical fiction.

Collection Services

From Paper to Practice: Workflow Modeling for Digital Libraries
2:30–3:30 p.m. Saturday, January 20

Ideal for collection administrators, catalogers, and other librarians seeking to optimize their digital operations, this session will explore how workflow modeling—the visual representation of an action or decision—can help identify areas for improvement. Attendees will sketch workflow diagrams reflective of their own practices and consider ways to streamline their processes.

Circulating Roku Devices with Premium Subscriptions
4–5 p.m. Sunday, January 21
Hear from librarians at Dayton (Ohio) Metro Library, which in 2022 began circulating more than 200 Roku devices. Each Roku comes with one of 10 streaming services paid for by the library. In the first year of the program, Roku devices were checked out more than 3,300 times.

Community Outreach and Engagement

Creating Welcoming and Supportive Libraries for Asylum Seekers and People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty
1–2 p.m. Saturday, January 20

Libraries of all types, in all places, serve people who are experiencing poverty and homelessness or seeking asylum. Learn how to provide services that make a difference for those who are unhoused, what types of programs exist to combat period poverty, and what partnerships can be created to assist these affected groups.

Flip the Fair: Elementary School Students Visit Public Library to Judge Graduate Student Science Projects
1–2 p.m. Saturday, January 20

At Roanoke (Va.) Public Libraries’ (RPL) Flip the Fair event, 200 elementary school students were invited to watch Virginia Tech graduate students deliver presentations on their research projects. In this session, discover how this joint program helped promote STEM careers to children and welcome them to RPL’s STEM lab while giving graduate students an opportunity to practice communicating their research to a new audience.

Library Advocacy Basics: Creating Lifelong Civic Engagement
1–2 p.m. Sunday, January 21
In this session, attendees will learn how to collaborate with community members to identify needs, develop realistic advocacy goals, and create a sustainable coalition to bring goals to fruition. Paul Signorelli, trainer-consultant and library advocacy training project manager for the California Library Association, will share how to cultivate relationships with key partners, such as legislators, and incorporate storytelling into advocacy efforts.

B’more Collaborative: Building a Successful School and Public Library Partnership
2–4 p.m. Sunday, January 21

Representatives from Baltimore City Public Schools and Enoch Pratt Free Library will share how their collaboration supports student success through multileveled programming. Attendees will hear about opportunities for partnerships between schools and libraries and how to develop an implementation plan.

Setting International Patrons Up for Success by Dismantling Deficit Thinking
10:30–10:50 a.m. Monday, January 22

Deficit thinking occurs when a person in power blames the failures of an individual from a marginalized community on perceived deficiencies instead of considering structural inequities. International patrons are particularly vulnerable to this practice. This session will invite participants to reflect on how deficit thinking affects their institution and propose culturally sensitive approaches to combat it.

Health and Wellness

Food Is a Right: The Library’s Role in Food Justice
11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Sunday, January 21

The Urban Libraries Council recently convened 20 leaders representing libraries and other organizations committed to improving food security across the US. Speakers will present data and findings from the meeting and a survey of nearly 200 libraries, along with tips for creating health and nutrition programming, applying for federal programs, and starting seed libraries.

Cultivating Caregiver Knowledge, Well-Being, and Community to Create a Strong Foundation for Very Young Children
2:45–3:45 p.m. Sunday, January 21

The first few years of a child’s life can be difficult and demanding for caregivers, especially those who live in underserved communities and often lack assistance, resources, and understanding. Presenters will discuss findings from Project SHIELD (Supporting Healthy Infant Early Learning and Development), a research initiative that explores the experiences and needs of caregivers, and how libraries can get involved in an infant’s early development.

Leadership and Management

How to Navigate Privacy Issues Involving Youth and Technology
1–4 p.m. Saturday, January 20

How should librarians navigate the privacy issues that arise when young patrons engage with technology? In this session, participants will apply a theory-based privacy literacy framework to real-world scenarios and map out steps to address privacy concerns in their own institutions.

After the Onboarding: Leveling Up Your Management Style and Your Team’s Potential
11:55 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Sunday, January 21

After the initial onboarding process of new library employees, it can be easy to defer future training and development to an as-needed basis. Attendees will leave this session with new ideas for identifying internal opportunities for employees looking to hone their skills and designing a more nuanced track for staff training.

The Art and Science of Leadership: Combining Soft Skills and Data to Achieve Results
4–5 p.m. Sunday, January 21

For library leaders, most of the skills needed to navigate challenges related to work culture and relationships aren’t taught in library school. Presenters will discuss the importance of soft skills in leadership and how to combine them with data-driven methodologies to ensure success.

Library Programs and Services

Improving Accessibility of Instructional Materials, One Slideshow at a Time
2:10–2:30 p.m. Saturday, January 20

Presenters will share best practices for librarians and educators looking to make instructional materials fully accessible. The program will cover usage of elements such as fonts, hyperlinks, alt text, color, and contrast.

Creating Connections: Hosting Intergenerational Book Clubs with Middle Schoolers and Retirees
10:40–11 a.m. Sunday, January 21

Since 2020, Montgomery County (Md.) Public Libraries’ (MCPL) Little Falls branch and the Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington’s Heyman Interages Center have facilitated a virtual book club with middle school students and retired adult volunteers. Panelists will share the benefits of the partnership, how to conduct a similar book club, and the value of libraries hosting intergenerational programs.

Who Said It? Using Role-Playing Games to Understand Perspective and Evaluate Sources
2:15–2:45 p.m. Sunday, January 21
Librarians from University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas, will present a role-playing game they created to help students understand information, identify an author’s motivation, and recognize biases. Attendees will get a chance to play the game and offer feedback, as well as discuss the pros and cons of including gamification elements in library instruction.

Gender-Supportive School Library Services
4–4:20 p.m. Sunday, January 21
Librarians can retrofit existing library services and create new traditions to foster a culture of safety and positivity for their young patrons. In this session, learn how to support all patrons, particularly those who identify as transgender or nonbinary, with different types of school library services, such as providing gender-neutral bathroom access, free clothing, free replacement student IDs, and administrative support for name changes.

Readers’ Advisory

Building Community through Personalized Reading Recommendations
2:30–3:30 p.m. Saturday, January 20

Connecting readers with books they’ll love or need is an integral part of providing excellent customer service in libraries. Speakers will equip staffers with the knowledge and tools necessary to provide personalized book recommendations that foster a sense of community and ensure inclusivity.

Readers’ Advisory Training: Tips and Techniques
12:15–12:45 p.m. Sunday, January 21

Participants will learn how to use Booklist and Booklist Reader to keep up with publishing trends and readers’ advisory techniques. Booklist Senior Editor Susan Maguire will facilitate a discussion on staff training exercises that can work in the library.

Technology Innovation

The Application of UX and Usability Standards in Browser-Based Virtual and Augmented Reality Environments
10 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Sunday, January 21

Extended reality (XR) information environments—which include virtual reality (VR), mixed reality, and augmented reality (AR)—are growing in popularity thanks to how easily they can be accessed on digital devices without the need for a traditional VR headset. This hands-on workshop presented by San José (Calif.) State University’s School of Information will cover basic principles of user experience and how to apply them to XR environments.

Learn Interactive Marketing with Augmented Reality Technology
1–2 p.m. Sunday, January 21

Hear from librarians at Patchogue-Medford (N.Y.) Library who used AR to transform their sidewalk-facing windows into an interactive aquarium. Presenters will share how the display increased their library card and summer reading program sign-ups.

Timely Topics

Below is a small selection of sessions representing the conference’s Timely Topics. For more information, visit the LibLearnX scheduler.

Artificial intelligence

ChatGPT Is a Liar and Other Lessons Learned from Information Literacy Instructors
10:20–10:50 a.m. Saturday, January 20
Where does generative AI fit in with information literacy instruction? Presenters will share findings from a recent survey of library professionals on how they are already teaching about and using ChatGPT in the classroom. Topics include what generative AI is and is not, hallucinated information, deepfakes, misinformation, biased training data, documenting use of AI, privacy, copyright, and costs.

Unleashing AI’s Potential: A Design Sprint for Library Staff
1–4 p.m. Saturday, January 20

This interactive design sprint will cover the key principles of AI, investigate its prominent issues, and discuss its societal implications through brainstorming and prototyping. Attendees will leave with an understanding of AI equity and ethics and an action plan for building AI-connected services that uphold those ideologies at their institution.

Teaching Student Workers to Use ChatGPT for Creating Metadata
2:45–3:05 p.m. Sunday, January 21

Learn how metadata librarians and student workers at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater are using ChatGPT to make completing metadata records easier. Attendees will leave this session understanding the strengths and weaknesses of ChatGPT in basic metadata tasks and how metadata librarians and student workers can collaborate.

Navigating AI in Education through a K–12 Librarian’s Lens
4–5 p.m. Sunday, January 21

Librarians can play a vital role in guiding students as they learn about and begin to use AI. This session will cover ways librarians can support educators at their schools wanting to implement AI in their instruction. Participants will explore AI tools, participate in surveys, and talk with other library workers about this emerging technology.

Intellectual freedom

Lessons from the Trenches: Learn How Louisiana Libraries Are Fighting the War on Intellectual Freedom
2:30–3:30 p.m. Saturday, January 20

Library staffers across the US are fighting efforts to ban books and defund their libraries. Louisiana has become a hotbed of this activity. Learn what has worked, what hasn’t, and what new tactics organized groups have started using against libraries. At the end of the session, attendees will be able to identify warning signs in their community, connect with allies, and better protect their staffers and patrons from harassment and threats of violence.

Be Prepared: Program Challenges at Your Public Library
1–2 p.m. Sunday, January 21

Do you have the right policies and procedures in place to handle a challenge to a program at your library? Sukrit Goswami, director of Haverford Township (Pa.) Free Library and president of the Freedom to Read Foundation, and Amanda Sand Vazquez, director of Dubuque County (Iowa) Library District and president of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT), will share their personal experiences with program challenges. They will be joined by Betsy Gomez, assistant director of communications and public outreach in ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, who will discuss how to leverage community relationships to prepare for and respond to program challenges.

Promoting the Merritt Fund: Strategies and Resources
2:10–2:30 p.m. Sunday, January 21
This session will introduce the Merritt Fund Promotional Toolkit, a resource developed by IFRT that contains testimonials, example media posts, and more to spread the word about the Merritt Fund. The fund supports librarians who have been denied employment rights or discriminated against because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, color, creed, religion, age, or disability, or have been denied employment rights because of their defense of intellectual freedom.

Not Too Young: Intellectual Freedom Programming for Children and Families
2:45–3:45 p.m. Sunday, January 21

How can librarians help children and families become advocates for the freedom to read? This session will cover practical program ideas, plans for promoting them, and possibilities for partnerships. Participants will also form small groups to discuss how to turn conversations about censorship into opportunities for advocacy.


3D Scanning for Cultural Heritage Institutions: Practical Skills and Considerations for Library Preservation
1–2 p.m. Saturday, January 20

Digitization of cultural materials is becoming increasingly important as institutions work toward easing access to their collections and increasing the diversity of publicly available cultural materials. In this hands-on workshop, attendees will be introduced to new advances in 3D-scanning technology and participate in discussions regarding the legal and ethical considerations involved when scanning and preserving cultural heritage artifacts.

All Jobs Are Climate Jobs: Why Library Workers Need to Be Climate Action Leaders
1–4 p.m. Saturday, January 20

How have libraries dealt with the effects of recent climate events in their communities? In this session, participants will learn how to design a climate action program or service for their library, define best practices for collaborating with other institutions on local climate initiatives, and update job descriptions to include climate action work.

Going Green with Summer Reading
11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Sunday, January 21

Staffers from MCPL will share their nontraditional format for a summer reading challenge that replaces plastic toy incentives with shared goals that leave a positive impact on the community. Summer reading participants learned about the animals, people, and environments they were helping while earning digital badges, experiences, and free books. Attendees will hear about the program’s successes and challenges, and brainstorm how they might implement a similar format in their libraries.

Not Another Named Storm: Disaster Planning in Public Libraries
1–2 p.m. Sunday, January 21

There is no single approach to creating a disaster plan that fits a library’s needs and serves its community during a crisis. Presenters from Florida State University in Tallahassee will share their 2023 study that addresses public librarians’ roles in disaster planning. Attendees will leave with an understanding of what makes up a model disaster plan and how to apply a plan in their own libraries.

Special Events

I Love My Librarian Awards
6–8 p.m. Friday, January 19

Each year, these awards recognize the impact and accomplishments of outstanding public, academic, and school librarians. Ten winners will share their inspiring stories, and a welcome reception for the conference will follow.

RUSA Book and Media Awards
9:45–10:45 a.m. Saturday, January 20

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) annually recognizes the year’s best in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, audiobook narration, and reference materials. At this prerecorded event, RUSA and cosponsor Booklist will announce the winners of the 2024 Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction.

Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration
6:30–8 a.m. Sunday, January 21

This conference tradition celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and highlights the connection between his life’s work and the library world.

Youth Media Awards
8–9:30 a.m. Monday, January 22

More than 20 awards recognizing outstanding books, videos, and other materials for children and teens will be announced, including the Newbery and Caldecott medals, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, and the Michael L. Printz, Pura Belpré, Stonewall, and Schneider Family awards.

LLX Digital Experience

Can’t join the group in Baltimore? The LLX Digital Experience is a virtual option that offers live and on-demand access to a selection of sessions, including the opening and closing sessions, Youth Media Awards, RUSA Book and Media Awards, author talks in the LLX Studio, a curated selection of education programs, and ALA Governance sessions.

Stay Connected

LLX Marketplace

The LLX Marketplace, designed for collaboration and learning within an exhibit space, will host more than 100 exhibitors offering the newest titles, products, tools, and services.

ALA Governance Institute

This year’s ALA Governance Institute will run 1–5 p.m. on Friday, January 19. ALA leaders, staffers, and other experts will facilitate breakout sessions related to the topics of intellectual freedom and advocacy, fundraising, crisis communication, and governance. The institute is free with registration and open to the first 200 people who sign up.

Governance Meetings

Saturday, January 20
3–3:45 p.m. ALA-APA Council Session
3:45–5 p.m. ALA Council Meeting I

Sunday, January 21
3–5 p.m. ALA Council Meeting II

Monday, January 22
1–5 p.m. ALA Executive Board Meeting

All times listed are Eastern. Times and dates of sessions may be subject to change. Check the LibLearnX conference scheduler for the most up-to-date information.


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