Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

What’s on the Menu: Early Childhood Programs & Services at ALA Annual

Can you believe it’s finally happening? The ALA Annual Conference is back! Soon, thousands of people who work in and support libraries will gather in Washington, D.C. to learn, network, and celebrate what we do. There are so many topics and events to be excited about. For today’s post I’ll be sharing some of the wonderful programming in store for people who work to serve young children and their families in library spaces. If you are interested too, read on!

A quick note before we dive in: you can find all of the programs mentioned here, along with their location information, on the ALA Conference Scheduler! Program titles are in bold, and all times mentioned are local to Washington DC. 

Educational Programs

Exciting educational program sessions will be taking place all weekend long. On Saturday at 11:00 am, don’t miss Supporting New Parents in Diverse Communities with Creativity and Compassion. This session will give attendees actionable information on how to engage diverse families in ways that matter most to them. Powerhouse speakers Tess Prendergast and Betsy Diamant-Cohen will surely have much valuable information to share. Speaking of Betsy, she’ll also be part of a distinguished panel of speakers for the program Library Outreach Programming for Expectant Parents and Parents of Newborns on Sunday at 9:00 am. This promising program aims to help libraries reach expectant parents from underserved and unserved populations by way of example. They’ll discuss the project “Mother Goose on the Loose: Hatchlings” and how it might fit into your library’s service plan. 

I know I’m always on the look-out for science programming ideas for the younger set. Strategies for Scaling Science Programming through Libraries to Engage Early to Life-Long Learners (Monday at 10:30 am) looks like just the thing! The National Girls Collaborative and SciStarter will review two of their programs and what’s made them so successful in libraries across the country. Sensory Spaces are another popular topic in the libraries I get to work with. There’s a program for that too! Diversifying Your Library Services through Sensory Spaces (Monday at 1:00 pm) will feature a broad panel of speakers from several library positions. They’ll walk attendees through conceptually creating a sensory space for their own libraries, no matter the target service population. 

Celebrating Literature

Celebrating and sharing books for young children is also an intrinsic part of the ALA Annual experience. Of course there are your heavy-hitter award celebrations all weekend long. But there are book-focused educational programs that celebrate literature in action as well! On Sunday at 11:00 am, check out Beyond Booklists: Family Engagement through Race & Culture Education at the Library, where attendees will learn about a race and culture curriculum created by the presenters. Later on, check out Celebrate Indigenous Storytelling: Books from Across the Northern Border (Sunday at 1 pm). The United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) will help attendees celebrate Indigenous storytelling with Inuit author Monica Ittusardjuat and the founders of an Inuint-owned and operated publishing company. 

Keep the book love going all afternoon and dive in further with Building Diversity in Read Aloud Choices (Sunday at 2:30). In this program, presenters will discuss data gleaned from a study of read-aloud choices in 43 elementary schools that is sure to have crossover applicability to public staff. Then on Monday at 1 pm, Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion using Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners and Honor Titles promises to provide strategies for bringing these important and beloved titles into school libraries and public library programming. 

ALSC in the Spotlight

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten all things ALSC! On Sunday from 10:30 am to 12 noon, check out two simultaneous ALSC discussion groups right near each other in the Marriott Marquis: Preschool Services Discussion Group and Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) Interest Meetup. These sessions are a great way to network and spark new ideas that you can bring back to your libraries. And of course a highlight of every conference is the ALSC Membership Meeting (Monday at 10:30 am)! There you’ll get to discuss important issues facing youth services staff and departments with other youth services folks. Round your experience out with the ALSC President’s Program: Boundaries Be Gone! Using Stories to Intersect and Connect. This timely topic is not to be missed!

No Need to Feel #LeftBehind

Important final note! If you’re not attending Annual but still want to keep up with the excitement, check back on the ALSC blog throughout the conference! You’ll find featured posts from Guest Contributors who will be posting Thursday through Tuesday on what they see and learn.

So, what are you most excited about this weekend? Let us know in the comments, and share your experiences afterwards too! Wishing all attendees a safe and enriching ALA experience!

Darla salva Cruz is a co-chair of teh Early

Darla Salva Cruz is finishing her term as co-chair of the Early Childhood Program and Services Committee and Youth Services Consultant for the Suffolk Cooperative Library System in Bellport, New York.

One comment

  1. Sue McCleaf Nespeca

    Thanks for highlighting the Preschool Services Discussion Group Meeting! Our topic will be Virtual Storytimes. Are you still doing virtual storytimes, or doing hybrid storytimes? Come share what works for you and what does not. If you have handouts, please bring 15 copies. (Convener, Sue McCleaf Nespeca @

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