In an attempt to broaden the conversation about the future of libraries, the American Library Association is hosting “an invitational summit,” titled Libraries From Now On: Imagining the Future, beginning today, and running through tomorrow at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The Summit is bringing together “thought leaders from the library community” as well as from a “broad spectrum of educational organizations, federal agencies and foundations” that work with libraries to begin “a national conversation” about the future and libraries.

“We’re starting to look a little more broadly in terms of scanning the environment in which libraries operate,” ALA executive director Keith Fiels told PW. “We can sometimes be very much focused on what is happening within libraries, and one of the things we are very much interested in is beginning to expand our scan and look at trends that may be emerging in other sectors and trying to get in front of things that might affect libraries in the long term.”

The event is set to feature four keynote speakers who “will challenge the Summit participants to imagine a library of the future. Speakers include:

Stephen Dubner, best known for his book Freakonomics and his provocative blog, who will focus on how to think differently about the future.

Joel Garreau, Lincoln Professor of Law, Culture and Values at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, who will look at “social and human change.”

Renu Khator, chancellor and president of the University of Houston, will focus her remarks on the “future of formal and informal learning and education.”

And, Thomas Frey, executive director of the DaVinci Institute and author of Communicating with the Future. Frey will discuss expectations for the future of technology and its impact on society.

Joan Frye Williams, a librarian consultant and futurist, will then conclude the Summit with a summary of the key points she heard throughout the two days.

Recordings of all Summit presentations will be available following the event, along with a report on the Summit discussions. The Summit also serves as a “kickoff” to the planned Center for the Future of Libraries, which will be established by the American Library Association in the summer of 2014. The Summit is supported with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and contributions from the Library of Congress.

For more information about the Summit, speakers, participants, and the Center for the Future of Libraries, go to the Summit Community on ALA Connect.