ALA Virtual Conference 2020

ALA Virtual Planning Guide

It’s hard to believe that in an alternate timeline we would be getting ready to head to Chicago for ALA Annual this week. Unfortunately, the in-person event was cancelled this year. Thankfully, we have ALA Virtual- Community Through Connection to (at least partially) fill in that gap. There is a lot going on and the event scheduler can be overwhelming. Here are some sessions and meetings that will be of interest to youth librarians (all descriptions found on the ALA Virtual website):

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Opening Session featuring Misty Copeland– Wednesday, June 24 10:00 am-11:00 am CST

American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer and author Misty Copeland first made history in 2007 as the second African American to be promoted to the rank of “soloist” in two decades at the company. In 2015, Copeland made history for the second time, when she became the first African American female principal “dancer” in the American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history.

Bunheads, available Fall 2020, is the first in a series of children’s picture books inspired by Copeland’s early dance experience. She tells the story of a young Misty, discovering her love for dance through the comic ballet, Coppélia. Copeland is also the bestselling author of Life in Motion, Ballerina Body, and Firebird.

She has taken a special interest in mentoring dancers of color and diversifying ballet and is an active supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of America.

Healing Reading Trauma: Rebuilding a Love of Reading Through Libraries for Liberation– Wednesday, June 24 11:15 am-12:00 pm CST

Too many of our students have had their love of reading systematically stolen. This trauma enacted on our students includes a lack of meaningful representation, high-stakes testing culture, unhealthy fixation on the “Classics”, and the shaming of students for what they love to read. The result can be students who associate reading with pain, insecurity, embarrassment, and humiliation. Not only is this affecting the academic achievement of our students, it’s taking away our students ability to act powerfully upon the world. When we damage someone’s language, we are taking away a piece of their humanity. This work of healing reading trauma is an essential part of liberatory and anti-racist education. In this session, the facilitators will share how they are building liberatory reading spaces at their secondary school libraries where students are beginning to heal their reading trauma. Specific tools–including teaching methods, collection development strategies, and program/policy changes–will be shared.

Sophia Thakur- Featured Speaker– Wednesday, June 24 1:00 pm-1:30 pm CST

Sophia Thakur is one of the most recognizable figures in UK performance poetry today. With two TED Talks, over 14,000 YouTube followers, and a rapidly growing Instagram and Social Media presence, she has been described as “this generation’s first poetry influencer”. A poet, model, and motivational speaker, her work resonates with disenfranchised youth, highlighting racial and social injustice.

Somebody Give This Heart a Pen, available Fall 2020, is Thakur’s first published work. A stirring collection of coming-of-age poems exploring the issues of identity, difference, perseverance, relationships, fear, loss, and joy.

She is a youth ambassador for the betterment of young black girls and has worked with many charities, including Cancer Research UK.

Serving the Transgender Community: It’s More Than Just Bathrooms! Wednesday, June 24 1:30 pm-2:15 pm CST

Panelists will explore their experiences and knowledge in providing services for the transgender community at their libraries. Firstly, panelists will discuss how they established a need for transgender programs and services in their community. Next, the panel will cover the different programs, services, and outreach they provide to their communities.

Time will be given at the end of the program for attendees to ask questions of the panelists regarding their experiences serving the transgender community.

Matthew Cordell- Featured Speaker– Wednesday, June 24 3:30 pm-4:00 pm CST

Author and Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell is known for putting his heart into every word and brushstroke of his work. According to Cordell, the most consistent theme in his life has been his desire for drawing.

His newest work, Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers, available Spring 2020, is the only authorized picture book biography of Mister Rogers and a labor of love for Cordell. He is both the author and the illustrator of this moving and informative picture book that explores the history of the acclaimed television show and its inspiring creator in an accessible way for children.

Stories Beyond US Borders: The Young Reader’s Window to the World– Thursday, June 25 11:15 am-12:00 pm CST

Reading lists and book recommendations help kids and teens find titles they might not otherwise pick up on their own. Diverse collections allow young marginalized readers to see themselves in the stories they read, and provide a window to cultures that can be very different from theirs. However, there is no universal experience defining any one culture, and sometimes non-American narratives unfamiliar to a reviewer’s reading history can be overlooked due to prevailing assumptions people may have of a particular culture that aren’t always accurate.

This panel is composed of four Southeast Asian young adult and middle grade authors living outside of the US but with books published in America—Hanna Alkaf (Malaysia), Rin Chupeco (Philippines), Remy Lai, (Australia), and Gail D. Villanueva (Philippines). They will each share their personal experiences regarding publishing in the US while living in Asia and Australia, as well as discuss how their books can still resonate with an American audience. They will point out misassumptions about their respective cultures, and offer ways to combat inaccurate perspectives. This panel will unpack the fallacies of the cultural monolith by exploring how different people can perceive their own culture in multiple ways that can and often vary even among each other, which can aid librarians, teachers, reviewers, and adult readers in helping kids and teens gain access to more varied representations of their own culture and the cultures of others.

Suggesting Own Voices to All Readers: EDI and RA Service– Thursday, June 25 11:15 am-12:00 pm CST

Providing robust readers advisory service that values equity, diversity and inclusion principles goes beyond simply adding more titles by “own voices” authors to our collections. Join two national experts on the topic of EDI in Collection Development and Readers’ Advisory as they provide the information librarians need to confidently place more “own voices” titles into adult patrons’ hands, in every community, serving all populations, not just the ones most represented in the local census. Learn tangible skills to help build enthusiasm for reading & discovering diverse books, to deepen readers’ advisory service through thoughtful inclusion of EDI principles in all RA interactions, and to explore small press and self-publishing as sources for new titles to discover. It’s a core mission of libraries to connect books with the readers whose lives will be enriched by them.

ALA President’s Program featuring Stacey Abrams– Thursday, June 25 12:00 pm-1:00 pm CST

Join ALA President Wanda K. Brown for the President’s Program featuring guest speaker Stacey Abrams.

Stacey Abrams is the New York Times bestselling author of Lead from the Outside, a serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO, and political leader. After serving eleven years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as minority leader, Abrams became the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, where she won more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history.

Over the course of her career, she has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels. Dedicated to civic engagement, her most recent endeavors include: launching Fair Fight to ensure every American has a voice in our election system, Fair Count to ensure accuracy in the 2020 Census and greater participation in civic engagement, and the Southern Economic Advancement Project, a public policy initiative to broaden economic power and build equity in the South. Her newest book, Our Time is Now, was released on June 9, 2020.

Abrams received degrees from Spelman College, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and Yale Law School. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, she and her five siblings grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi, and were raised in Georgia.

Are the Kids Okay? How Librarians Can Use Literature to Help Kids Navigate Socioemotional Stress– Thursday, June 25 1:15 pm-2:00 pm CST

In an age of rising teen anxiety and stress, as librarians, we turn to what we know best– our books. Together with authors and with mental health professionals, librarians are uniquely positioned to offer a haven of socio-emotional learning through programming, a safe and inviting atmosphere and opportunities to reflect upon self and look into the windows of others, growing empathy, community and understanding that transcends the walls of the classroom.

Examples of highlighted student learning opportunities include the use of a school-wide student and faculty book club paired with authors to discuss mental health and diversity within YA literature and the connections to teens’ daily realities, the collaboration of library and school groups to perform needs assessment surveys through CMS channels and then the development of student focus and discussion groups to build community and promote awareness and action and continuous programming in the library that provides students with opportunities to both reach out to others and dial into self. Outreach opportunities include “Stall Street Journals” with a library corner that promotes books and community connections relative to spotlighted issues and concerns.

Sonia Manzano- Featured Speaker– Thursday, June 25 2:00 pm-2:30 pm CST

Sonia Manzano is a first-generation, mainland Puerto Rican who was raised in the South Bronx. In the early 1970s, a scholarship took her to Carnegie Mellon University, where she participated in the creation of the hit Broadway show Godspell. From there she went on to affect the lives of millions of children and parents when she was offered the opportunity to create the role of “Maria” on Sesame Street.

Her new book, A World Together will be available Fall 2020. Manzano says she “jumped at the chance National Geographic gave me to continue spreading the word of multicultural understanding through A World Together.

Trouble in Paradise: Are You Violating Copyright by Using Social Media Read Alouds? Thursday, June 25 2:30 pm-3:15 pm CST

You’ve seen them online: educators reading aloud picture books and chapter books on YouTube, Facebook or other public sites. You may have used these read alouds, many teachers and librarians do: for students with special needs, to help with time management, or due to budget constraints. Yet, are publicly posted read alouds the only way? Are they legal? Which ones may violate fair use standards of copyright law? All the legal issues surrounding read alouds on social media and in educational settings have not been settled. However, fair use is the law and does have specific requirements that include: the purpose of the use, the nature of the work in question, the portion of the work used and the effect upon the potential market. What kind of social media read alouds are fair both to educators and to creators and publishers?

This presentation from a panel of school librarians, creators and publishing representatives will help you successfully navigate through the issues surrounding the legality of posting book read alouds on social media sites. Our focus will be on reviewing the issues from diverse perspectives AND providing alternative and creative ways to better support the needs of educators and their students without infringing on the rights of creators or publishers.

Juntos: Latinx Family Engagement at Your Library– Friday, June 26 12:15 pm-1:00 pm CST

It’s crucial for Youth Services Library Para-Professionals and Librarians to support life-long learning by constantly developing cultural awareness and understanding of how diverse and rich is the Latino community. By removing any barriers based on a young library patron’s socioeconomic status, education, literacy-related barriers, language, gender, ability, and diversities, Latino families could support their children’s learning from birth through their teenage years and thrive within their communities. During this speaking engagement, you will learn about common misconceptions often incorporated or displayed in programming, attain ideas on various culturally enriching programming, and hear how Librarians are currently implementing Latino Family Engagement at their libraries and within their serving communities.

Closing Session featuring Natalie Portman– Friday, June 26 1:00 pm-2:00 pm CST

Natalie Portman is an Academy Award-winning actress, director, producer, and activist. Natalie Portman’s Fables is her debut picture book and will be available Fall 2020. The book retells three classic fables and imbues them with wit and wisdom. From realizing that there is no “right” way to live—to respecting our planet and learning what really makes someone a winner—the messages at the heart of Natalie Portman’s Fables are modern takes on timeless life lessons.

Born in Jerusalem, Israel, Portman is a graduate of Harvard University and now lives with her family in Los Angeles.

Cassie Chenoweth, Children’sLibrarian at Orange Beach Public Library in Orange Beach, Alabama, is writing this post on behalf of the Public Awareness Committee. She can be reached at

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency VII: Professionalism and Professional Development.

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