Collaboration Announcements, New Information Literacy Initiative, and More from ALA Annual | News Bites

ALA Annual at the San Diego Convention Center was filled with breaking news, discussions about the issues that will impact libraries in the future, sharing of resources, and memorable author talks. 

ALA Annual at the San Diego Convention Center was filled with breaking news of collaborations, discussions about the issues that will impact libraries in the future, sharing of resources, and some memorable author talks. 

Collaborations announced

Author Kwame Alexander is always an entertaining speaker, but his session at ALA Annual in San Diego was more exciting than usual. He was there to discuss his latest book, Black Star, but broke a little news,

Jerry Craft, left, and Kwame Alexander
announced a new middle grade
Photo: Jerry Craft's Instagram account

too, when fellow Newbery winner Jerry Craft crashed the stage and the two announced a forthcoming middle grade collaboration. J vs. K will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in May 2025.

In other collaboration news, Neal Shusterman used his Margaret A. Edwards Award acceptance speech to announce a forthcoming book with his half-brother. In an SLJ webcast in June, Shusterman promised some bombshells in his speech at ALA Annual, and he delivered with a deeply personal and almost unbelievable story.

Last August, when Shusterman's son received his results from, something unexpected sent Shusterman down a rabbit hole of "sleuthing." Who were these people who appeared on his side of the family tree? There was not one name he recognized.

Shusterman went on to learn that he had been adopted—and his parents swore the family to secrecy. In his research, Shusterman found a half-brother named Martin Ingham, who lives in Maine. Turns out, Ingham is a sci-fi writer. And Shusterman, ever the collaborator, was off on a new literary adventure. Their book will be published in 2025.

Impact of elections

The upcoming November election and its impact on libraries were prominent topics of conversation at the conference. Speakers stressed the importance of local elections on library work and policy.

In the “Ready. Set. VOTE: 2024 Elections and What’s at Stake for Libraries” session, the panelists were ALA United for Libraries president Deborah A. Doyle, deputy director of ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy office Kevin Maher, Virginia Library Association executive director Lisa Varga, Leander (TX) ISD district library coordinator Becky Calzada, and Qiana M. Johnson, associate dean of libraries, collections and content strategies for Dartmouth Libraries. They detailed the stakes for libraries in the November election. While intellectual freedom is high on the list, it is not the only issue. Funding for libraries, net neutrality, and public service loan forgiveness will all be impacted by the election results, according to Kevin Maher, deputy director of ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy office. Maher also spotlighted key federal appointments. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) currently has an acting director. A new director must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

Varga, Calzada, and Johnson spoke about the importance of local and state elections, from school boards to local and state legislators. The decisions by those in office can directly impact library programming, collection development, and staff professional development. Panelists stressed the value not only in communicating directly with representatives but also in having conversations with library allies and community members. Just reminding students and patrons that an election is coming up, how to register, and when early voting begins are important. These nonpartisan actions should not violate any school or public library policies, they said. Panelists also stressed the importance of librarians acting as citizens to promote library-related causes and allies running for office.

Doyle, who moderated the panel, announced that ALA’s “Reader. Voter. Ready.” campaign will launch new resources this month.

Some other resources presented during the session included ALA & Vote 411ALA Ecosystem Initiative, and the Unite Against Book Bans toolkit.

Information Literacy Initiative launched

IMLS announced the launch of its nationwide Information Literacy Initiative. The multipartner project provides a website,, that offers a wide range of ready-to-use tools and resources for educators and library and museum professionals to engage their communities to find, understand, evaluate, and share accurate information.

The website includes lesson plans and worksheets, community engagement and social media materials, examples of innovative work being done, and suggestions for partnership outreach—an important component for smaller libraries with limited resources—to support financial, health, and digital literacy skills.

Notable quotes

The ALA Annual schedule was packed with authors speaking. Here are just a few notable quotes from authors during the conference.

Kwame Alexander, Newbery Medal winner and author of forthcoming Black Star: “Libraries are love. Libraries are an essential part of our American story.”

Dave Eggers, author of Newbery Medal winner The Eyes and the Impossible: "I don’t want to make this speech only about how we treat ­teachers—actually I do, but I won’t—though I will say that every year, with these transparency laws and book challenges and bans and a hundred other indignities, we make this most central, most indispensable profession more difficult, less appealing, and we don’t come close to properly compensating teachers for what they do, which is to daily change lives. To daily create citizens. To daily tell us what is right and what is wrong, and what is possible. And every day to catapult young minds forward."

Byron Graves, author of William C. Morris Award winner Rez Ball: “Thank you to all the librarians for your diligence, your hard work, for fighting the good fight, for caring so greatly about finding the perfect book for each kid and helping them understand and empathize with characters from a wide range of backgrounds. But most importantly, for making reading fun and exciting.”

Ali Veshi, television host, MSNBC correspondent, and author of Small Acts of Courage: A Legacy of Endurance and the Fight for Democracy: “In history, there is no society in which books were banned or burned that got better. It literally ends up with the destruction of that society. It’s the worst thing in the world.”

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