With the Covid-19 pandemic showing little sign of easing, the American Library Association executive board announced on Thursday that the 2021 ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits scheduled for January 22-26 in Indianapolis, has been canceled, and will be replaced by a virtual event.
“It is clear that as we continue to coexist with Coronavirus, we need to adjust our approach to meetings and events,” said ALA president Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. "Though we very much hoped to be able to meet in person in Indianapolis, the health and safety of conference attendees, ALA members and staff, exhibitors, and other stakeholders are the priority.”
The 2021 conference in Indianapolis was to be the final ALA Midwinter. After that, the schedule shows only a “new January event” listed in 2022 in San Antonio, and in New Orleans in 2023. Though no further January events are currently scheduled, the ALA has said it expects to host January events beyond 2023. However, as Jefferson alluded to, the post-pandemic future of ALA events is very much up in the air.
The cancellation comes after the Covid-19 pandemic also forced the cancellation the 2020 ALA Annual conference, the first time in 75 years the ALA had not held an annual gathering.
“It would have been great to have a sense of closure and to generate collective excitement in a face-to-face setting for what’s to come," said ALA executive director Tracie D. Hall said in a statement. "But I am inspired by the more than 10,000 attendees, authors, speakers and stakeholders who came together for the June Virtual Event."
ALA officials said a preliminary roster of speakers, keynoters, and authors will be announced early this fall along with ongoing announcements of programs, sessions, meetings, and exhibits. Registration will open in November.