The American Library Association (ALA) this week announced that Dr. Jill Biden, the incoming First Lady of the United States, will address librarians at the 2021 ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits virtual meeting. The talk is set for Monday, Jan. 25, 11:15–noon CST, just five days after the inauguration, and will feature Dr. Biden in conversation with ALA president Julius C. Jefferson, Jr.
“We are honored that Dr. Biden will be joining us at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. Librarians are among her most ardent supporters, and I know that I speak for many when I say this conversation will be something they cherish for a long time,” said Jefferson, in a statement. “Dr. Biden’s profound commitment to education and her efforts to create pathways to enrichment are more important than ever. As our nation’s students struggle with distance learning, maneuvering digital jungles and grappling with digital literacy, we believe librarians and library workers have a critical role to play in supporting the needs of learners. From homework help to assisting adults with job-searches, our nation’s library professionals will also take an active role in our nation’s COVID-19 recovery. We are grateful for Dr. Biden’s support and advocacy as we move forward in supporting and transforming lives through education and lifelong learning.”
The appearance by Dr. Biden, in what will be one of her first major talks as First Lady, is a prominent, welcome show of support for the library community. For each of the the last four years, libraries have started the new year on defense in Washington D.C., with four consecutive proposals by the Trump Administration to permanently eliminate the Institute for Museum and Library services as well as virtually all federal support for libraries.
Dr. Biden of course served as Second Lady of the United States from 2009–2017. But she is also well known for her work as an educator and education advocate. She has spent more than three decades teaching in community colleges, high schools and a psychiatric hospital for adolescents, and is a vocal supporter of community colleges (she continues to teach at a community college in Northern Virginia, a position she held throughout her time as Second Lady).
Biden is also the author of several books, including the bestselling Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, which was released in May of 2019, as well as two children’s books, Don’t Forget, God Bless our Troops, which was released in June of 2012 and JOEY: The Story of Joe Biden, which was published in June of 2020.
The 2021 ALA virtual Midwinter Meeting will run from Friday to Tuesday, January 22 to 26, 2021. Registration is now open and will close January 15, at noon CT. And as was the case for the ALA virtual event this past June, ALA members who have been laid off or furloughed can register at no cost.