Symposium on the Future of Libraries - Schedule

The Symposium on the Future of Libraries features sessions exploring the near-term trends already inspiring innovation in libraries and the longer-term trends that will help us adapt to the needs of our communities. 

This year's sessions include three learning formats:

  • Information Sessions [IS] allow presenters to focus on a specific trend, topic, or issue to help attendees better understand what they need to know to make sense of the future. 
  • Workshops [W] offer an interactive room set with rounds or tables that encourage collaborative, hands-on learning. These sessions provide time for instruction but allow attendees to engage in active learning through discussion, activities, or other constructive learning. These sessions are meant to help attendees develop skills to be more strategic, effective in leadership, or proactive in using foresight tools or strategies.
  • Discussion Sessions [DS] are designed to spark conversation across participants. Lead discussants or facilitators pose questions or prompts and encourage attendees to share their perspectives and insights. 

Times and sessions are subject to change. Additional sessions and speakers will be added as they are confirmed. The Center for the Future of Libraries announced an open call for concurrent sessions through August 19 (an extended deadline). If you have questions about a proposal, please contact Miguel Figueroa at [email protected] 


Saturday January 25th

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Plenary Session - Libraries Transform: Civic Innovation
Join Philadelphia-based civic innovators for the morning's plenary session exploring what’s next for communities.

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Sustainability is Now a Core Value. So... Now What? [DS]
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Executive Director, Mid-Hudson Library System; Matthew Bollerman, Chief Executive Officer, Hauppauge Public Library
In 2019 ALA Council voted to make sustainability a core value of librarianship. So what's next? How do we embed this new core value in our work as a profession, in our libraries and in our association? Join ALA Special Task Force on Sustainability's co-chair Rebekkah Smith Aldrich & SustainRT's first ALA Councilor, Matthew Bollerman to get in on the ground floor of this thinking for the future of sustainable libraries.

Partners in Place: Community Space Sharing for Tomorrow’s Workforce [IS]
Lisa M. Shaw, Rural & Small Libraries Specialist, Maine State Library; Elizabeth Iaukea, Workforce Development Librarian, Washington State Library; Tammy Westergard, Deputy State Librarian / Assistant Administrator, Nevada State Library, Archives and Public Records; Randy Kemp, Program Supervisor, Idaho Commission for Libraries; Andrea Levandowski, Library Consultant for Small Business Development & Technology, New Jersey State Library
Falling unemployment rates mean less WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) funding for career centers. Reducing their physical footprints offers big savings, but as business’ need for skilled workers continues to grow, the workforce development system struggles to meet this demand, with less resources. Libraries in rural communities provide welcoming, physical spaces for career advisers to meet and interact with an untapped labor pool:  patrons accessing the gig economy, tele-working, skill-building through online learning, and earning industry-recognized credentials and certifications. Program panelists describe library space-sharing successes that match Labor, workforce boards, and patrons; meeting the needs of all and stimulating rural economies without “mission creep.”

The Library, Not Just for Books: Connecting Library, Maker, and Social-Emotional Learning [W]
Velear Schrupp, Library Director, TVT Community Day School
The Library, Not Just for Books welcomes participants to explore the role the Library can play in the running of a Makerspace and how to infuse Social Emotional Learning. This interactive workshop will explore the "Why" behind the integrated approach by taking a look at some of the ways skills are built when Information Literacy, maker informed practices, and Social and Emotional Learning are infused within activities/lessons and the philosophy of the Library.
Please note: the above workshop will have limited seating to accommodate an active learning session. Standing room may not be available, based on the preferences of the presenter(s). You may wish to arrive early to ensure a place in the workshop. 

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Making Real Change: Moving Beyond the Interpersonal to Create Actual Diverse, Inclusive and Equitable Environments for Both Library Users and Employees [DS]
Erin N. Elzi, Design and Discovery Librarian, University of Denver; Elia Trucks, User Experience and Student Outreach Librarian, University of Denver
Anti-oppressive practices (AOP) grapple with power inequities that uphold structural forces like racism and sexism. Librarianship has primarily focused on individual expressions of AOP. However, AOP must include institutional and ideological change, which can be more challenging. This session will discuss AOP framework, explore examples of AOP in libraries, and give participants tools for starting larger conversations at their own institutions. Participants will discuss what their institution is doing that focuses on the individual, and explore how theories of organizational change can be used towards institutional AOP.

Library Marketing and Advocacy Through Social Media [W]
Charlene Martoni-McElrath, Student Workforce Manager, University at Albany Libraries
Meet your patrons where they are: online. Libraries must take advantage of social media marketing tools in order to adequately identify and serve the needs of their communities. This presentation will explain: (1) why libraries should be active on social media, (2) how libraries can foster a community of library advocacy and engagement through social media, (3) ways libraries can market their services, resources, and programs through social media, and (4) how to set up a strategic marketing plan specific to individual library cultures. Take your embedded librarianship and advocacy practices to the next level by attending this workshop.
Please note: the above workshop will have limited seating to accommodate an active learning session. Standing room may not be available, based on the preferences of the presenter(s). You may wish to arrive early to ensure a place in the workshop.  

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Action: Creating Customer Journeys to Generate Equitable Communities. How to use Asset Framing to Design Experiences for Social Impact [W]
Margaret Sullivan, Principal, Margaret Sullivan Studio; Farrell Evans, Sportswriter and Co-founder, The Bridge Golf Foundation; Neely Leslie, Designer, Margaret Sullivan Studio
Librarians have an opportunity to model best practices in equitable customer experience with every touchpoint. Defining communities in general terms such as “at risk” often perpetuates systematic racism and biases that we are working to break down. A vanguard of leaders are re-framing the language and approach, by defining people by their aspirations and contributions before noting their challenges. This approach, called “Asset Framing” makes it much clearer to understand the systemic causes behind their struggles. In this workshop, participants will create customer journeys using the Asset Framing “Framework” to learn how to apply these principles in their daily work.
Please note: the above workshop will have limited seating to accommodate an active learning session. Standing room may not be available, based on the preferences of the presenter(s). You may wish to arrive early to ensure a place in the workshop. 

Young Changemakers in 21st Century Libraries [IS]
Luke Kirkland, Teen Specialist, Waltham Public Library; Alexandra Remy, Branch Supervisor, Forest Park Branch Library; Melissa Bennett, Young Adult and Assistant Children’s Librarian, Turner Free Library
In January 2019, the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) and the Democratic Knowledge Project (DKP) at Harvard University assembled a cohort of librarians from ten Massachusetts schools and public libraries to design professional development resources for implementing DKP’s Ten Questions for Young Changemakers—a framework for civic learning that seeks to help youth develop into successful (i.e. equitable, effective, and self-protective) civic agents in this digital age. Learn about the training materials and learning modules produced by the public librarians in this cohort, and hear suggestions for building cultures of civic engagement with teens in the public library setting. 

Sunday January 26th

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Plenary Session - Libraries Transform: Social Innovation
Join Philadelphia-based social innovators for the morning's plenary session exploring what’s next for improving society.

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Robots and Us: What Could Go Wrong? What Could Go Right? [DS]
Bohyun Kim, Chief Technology Officer and an Associate Professor, University of Rhode Island Libraries
Participants will discuss general concerns related to the adoption of robots: (1) robot safety, (2) robot morality, (3) the impact of the human-robot relationship on social norms, and (4) the robot’s potential to be used as a means for manipulation/deception.  The presenter will provide a brief introduction on a robot and the capabilities of an AI (artificial intelligence)-powered robot.  The session participants will also explore (a) what kind of robots we may see at libraries, (b) what kind of human-robot interactions may take place, and (c) what type of human-robot relationship may facilitate the library robot’s intended use.

Navigating Queer Realities in School Libraries [IS]
Rae-Anne Montague, Department of Information Studies, Chicago State University
This session considers the roles of school librarians in supporting emerging interest and legislation recognizing the varied contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals and groups. It explores effective practices in terms of collection development, instruction, online resources, programs, exhibits, and events; and offers suggestions to overcome challenges and strengthen future approaches. The analysis is based on a literature review surveying LGBTQ inclusive materials and curricula. Implications are of particular interest to school librarians and others involved in augmenting understanding of the roles and contributions of LGBTQ people.

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Libraries at the Nexus of Migration [IS]
Julie Botnick, Education and Outreach Librarian, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region (NNLM PSR), UCLA's Biomedical Library; Derek Johnson, Health Professionals Outreach Specialist, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Greater Midwest Region; Alex Gil, Digital Scholarship Librarian, Columbia University Libraries; Ady Huertas, Supervising Librarian, Youth and Family Services, San Diego (Calif.) Public Library
Libraries and librarians will be increasingly in the center of shifting migration patterns and policies. Looking to this near future, we will highlight projects at public, governmental, and academic libraries that provide information access and services to migrant and detained migrant populations and how librarians have confronted the social impact of migration and detention on local communities through library services. Speakers will discuss innovative partnerships and outreach programs that ultimately serve the physical and mental health and well-being of migrant and detained migrant populations, and inspire other librarians in the borderlands and beyond to develop similar programs at their libraries.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

FUTURE-READYing Your Library:  Preparing for the Future Today [IS]
Marcellus Turner, Executive Director and Chief Librarian, The Seattle Public Library
The Seattle Public Library has embarked on a future-readying library project to look at the significant forces that will impact what we do and how we do it over the next decade. SPL is reviewing future trends and influences and talking with experts to understand emerging technologies, the futures of work and education, and consumer expectations among others to understand how they will influence our work.  In so doing, we hope to prepare for this future in terms of service as a fully-focused (and future-ready) library.

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Using Implications Wheels to Explore the Consequences of Change [W]
Katie King, Director, Strategic Foresight Engagement, KnowledgeWorks 
Exploring future possibilities proactively can help libraries more equitably and effectively serve their communities in a rapidly changing landscape. This interactive workshop will introduce participants to implications wheels, an accessible method for exploring how changes on the horizon might affect libraries and communities. Together, we will explore the implications of a change that could have significant consequences for the future of learning and libraries, seeking to identify unexpected ripple effects of that central change. Participants will also receive guidance on using implications wheels and other futures thinking tools with their organizations that they can incorporate into their daily work and planning.
Please note: the above workshop will have limited seating to accommodate an active learning session. Standing room may not be available, based on the preferences of the presenter(s). You may wish to arrive early to ensure a place in the workshop.

Monday January 27th 

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Plenary Session - Libraries Transform: Education Innovation
Join Philadelphia-based education innovators for the morning's plenary session exploring what’s next for elementary and higher education.

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Measuring the Library’s Impact on Your Community’s Social Infrastructure [W]
Margaret Sullivan, Principal, Margaret Sullivan Studio; Lyna Vuong, Senior Design Strategist, Margaret Sullivan Studio; Alexandra (Ali) Sutherland-Brown, Urban Planning Strategist, Karp Strategies
In the book Palaces for the People, Erik Klinenberg makes the case that a better future for our society can be built around the concept of social infrastructure. Over the past decade, a growing body of evidence is being generated in community development proving the impact of our work. In this workshop participants will learn how economists, psychologists, UN policy makers, academics and urban planners are incorporating outcome measurements to quantify health and well-being factors including “quantifying happiness." Participants will engage in analyzing current library programs and learn to apply outcome measurement techniques in their daily work.
Please note: the above workshop will have limited seating to accommodate an active learning session. Standing room may not be available, based on the preferences of the presenter(s). You may wish to arrive early to ensure a place in the workshop. 

Making the News: Library Advocacy and Local Media [IS]
Christi Buker, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Library Association; Megan Ortegon, Manager, ALA Public Policy and Advocacy
What does it take to make the news? How does it influence local leaders? Understanding and working with another public servant – the local press – is vital to demonstrating a library’s impact to the community and to their elected representatives. In this session, library advocates and a local journalist will discuss how news outlets choose what’s news, which voices to include, and how library advocates can be a productive part of the discussion. This session will focus on specific ways to support journalists and explore why local news matters to decision makers at every level.