Editor's Picks for ALA Annual

Here are the speakers, sessions, and events SLJ's editors are looking forward to most at ALA Annual.

The American Library Association (ALA) Annual conference is next week from June 20-25 in Washington, D.C., and SLJ’s editors are looking forward to spreading out to learn and report back as much as we can. Here are just a few of the sessions, speakers, and events we are anticipating most.

Kathy Ishizuka, executive editor

The task force of Libraries Ready to Code—a major initiative of ALA toward engaging the important work of computational thinking (CT)—will offer their conclusions and recommendations at #ReadytoCode Hands-on Open Forum Meeting (Saturday 10 a.m.). One of two such forums to be held at Annual, this one is tailored for members of the three youth divisions—AASLALSC, and YALSA. Learn about Ready to Code resources and how to potentially build CT into your own library practice. Also on Saturday, I am looking forward to Intersectionality and the Experience of LGBTQ+ Folks (4 p.m.), where attendees will actively work to build strategies for fostering open and accepting library spaces for LGBTQ users and staff, and considering people of complex identities.

Laurie Halse Anderson

I’m going to finish off a busy day at Freedom to Read Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Celebration (6 p.m.). It promises to be a great event—Laurie Halse Anderson and Colson Whitehead are featured speakers. Join me in supporting a milestone for this nonprofit organization, affiliated with ALA and actively working legal efforts to preserve and promote intellectual freedom. Learn about FTRF’s work, get involved, and come say hello! (Ticket required.)

Katy Hershberger, senior editor, YA

Jason Reynolds

Like everyone else who’s ever read or seen him, I’m ride or die for Jason Reynolds. I know his Opening General Session (Friday, 4 p.m.) is going to be funny, inspiring, and likely brilliantly unscripted, as always.

There’s only so much I can learn from my nieces and nephew (that is, there’s only so much they’ll tell me), so I’m excited about From Fortnite to 'Big Mood': Keeping Up with Teen Trends (Sunday, 2:30 p.m.). Connecting with teens, in books and in person, can be a mystery, but it’s vital to know what compels them, especially when the trends can change so quickly. I promise, I won’t use this information to try to be cool.

I’m also looking forward to Tough topics in YA: How the 2019 debuts are tackling the dark—but real—issues teens care about (Monday, 1 p.m.). My hope is always that readers always find the books they need, whether it’s escapist fiction, gritty realism, or something else. These authors write about issues young people see in their world, and perhaps their own lives—mental health, trauma, immigration, addiction, homelessness, and more—and many of them have spoken honestly about their own relationships to these topics.

Rebecca T. Miller, editor in chief

As I race around ALA, I’ll be trying to hit a number of programs, fueled by the food and ideas from the Margaret A. Edwards award brunch (Saturday, 11:30 a.m.) honoring M.T. Anderson, which SLJ proudly sponsors. I’ll

M.T. Anderson

sprint over to Enriching Learning through Deep Collaboration-Public, School, and Nonprofit Library Partnerships (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.) to hear more about a favorite topic, and then head to Social Unrest, Democracy and Librarianship in the 21st Century ( Saturday, 4 p.m.). After packing in the meetings on Sunday morning, I’ll hear more on Building Equity from the Ground Up (Sunday, 1 p.m.) from the folks at LA County Library, Library Journal’s 2019 Library of the Year and try to glean some tips from the Tulsa team at From Fortnite to ‘Big Mood’: Keeping Up with Teen Trends (Sunday, 2:30 p.m.).


Kara Yorio, news editor

These conferences are at their finest a celebration of the profession, ideas, and of the best of publishing industry. But they also provide a chance to reflect and seek ways to be better. I am excited and 

Sonia Sotomayor

very interested to begin the weekend with Beyond the Racial Stalemate (Friday, 8:30 a.m.), a nearly four-hour session where “facilitators will lead participants through a process that invites story-telling, vulnerability, and deep listening. The goal is to provide leaders with a tool currently used by hundreds of organizations to help uproot the flawed belief in a racial hierarchy.” From there, I’m off to the Diversity and Inclusion Unconference (Friday, 1 p.m.) for continued coverage of this important issue. After that, I am with my colleague Katy: I won’t miss the opportunity to hear Jason Reynolds’ Opening General Session (Friday, 4 p.m.)—and I will find a seat for A Conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (Saturday, 8:30 a.m.).

After listening to Justice Sotomayor, I hope to sit in on Talking with Kids about Race: A ‘How To’ Workshop (Saturday, 10:30 a.m.) and I plan to finish up my first ALA annual by mixing things up a bit with Lyrics as Literature: A Musical Approach to Teaching Literacy, Social Justice, and Amplifying Student Voice (Saturday, 1 p.m.). And of course I will be on the lookout for any breaking news and whatever stories pop up along the way.


If you’re in D.C. and you see one of us from SLJ, please say hello, share what you’re doing in your library, and what you’re excited to try next. While we’ve listed our most anticipated scheduled events here, the best part of thtese events is always getting out and speaking with librarians, authors, illustrators, and publishers and bringing that energy, inspiration—and the many story ideas—back to the office with us.

If you can't make it to ALA Annual, look for our coverage during the event on Twitter @sljournal and in the days that follow at slj.com. 

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