SLJ Summit 2023 Takeaways: Tips and Ideas from Panels and Breakout Sessions

From intellectual freedom to AI, there was plenty to learn and discuss at the 2023 SLJ Summit in Atlanta. Here are just some of the ideas that came from those on panels and in breakout sessions.

K.C. Boyd (left) and Donna Gray led a session ­celebrating joy in the library.

The goal of the SLJ Summit: provide attendees with information and resources on the most pressing issues in their profession, along with time to share their challenges, ideas, and recommendations with one another.

Here are just some of the tips and ideas that came from those in attendance.

Promote intellectual freedom

John Chrastka, Kasey Meehan, ­Michelle Jarrett, and Latresha Jackson

  • Do not use work email or ­personal email on work Wi-Fi when communicating about censorship attempts.
  • Talk to parents. Find the ones who are on your side, and ask if they are willing to ­support in any way.
  • Connect challenged and ­removed books to state standards.


Talk to stakeholders

Becky Calzada and Kevin Washburn

  • Nudge others into specific action after assessing their strengths.
  • Invite stakeholders to the library.
  • Use data to show what you’ve done and what you need.


Recenter reading

Cicely Lewis and Donna Gray

  • Connect all programming to books. For Lewis’s Quinceañera Book and Fashion Show, students read and discussed the book they carried while modeling a dress.
  • Collaborate with the PE teacher to have students listen to audiobooks while doing yoga.
  • Start a New Kid Book Club. New students get Jerry Craft’s book, a map of the school, and an invitation to the library at lunch.


Get ready for AI

Elissa Malespina lays out the AI reality.

Chris Harris and Elissa Malespina

  • Play with it—students are using it, you should be, too.
  • Rethink assignments; they have to be about process, not product.
  • Use AI to make your life easier—for recommendation letters, rubrics, readers advisory, book summaries, reworking correspondence tone (e.g., “Make more empathetic” or “Make more professional and formal”).


Protect yourself

Amanda Jones

  • Scrub information about school and family members from social media.
  • Create a Google alert for your name.
  • Have other people read and screenshot cruel and harassing comments.


Raise up library joy

K.C. Boyd and Donna Gray

  • Seeing the mess after a craft.
  • Creating programs around interests and needs that bring kids into library: gaming, themed scavenger hunts, résumé reboots, and more.
  • Watching kids police each other in respect of the library space.


Collaborating with classroom teachers

Kerry Townsend

  • Invite yourself to department and grade-level meetings and explain your areas of expertise.
  • Get teachers in the door with initiatives around commemorative months.
  • Go to teachers with concrete plans for collaboration based on ­curricula.


Melissa Corey (left) and Cicely Lewis

Idea share

Melissa Corey and Cicely Lewis

  • Create reading buddies—older students, stuffed animals (check stores like PetSmart that donate stuffed animals to nonprofits), or therapy dogs.
  • Try Fund for Teachers grants for professional development designed by the educator (
  • Look at BookBreak ( for live-streamed author visits.

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