After years of discussion and planning, it's finally here: the American Library Association's new winter event LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience gets underway today, January 21, and is set to run through January 24. And this week, organizers announced another high profile addition to the program, an opening session featuring U.S. from Hawaii, Senator Mazie Hirono in conversation with ALA President Patty Wong. The session will run online tomorrow, Saturday, January 22, from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. CT.

Hirono is the first Asian American woman and the only immigrant serving in the U.S. Senate. Her recent memoir, Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story (Viking) details her remarkable life and career, and pays homage to the tenacity of her mother. A PW review said "Hirono’s story of struggles and triumph satisfies and enlightens in equal measure."

Earlier this month, LibLearnX organizers also confirmed another high profile addition to the program: activist, author and NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who will deliver the closing talk with ALA President-Elect Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada. The session is set for Monday, January 24, from 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. CT.

Kaepernick will talk with librarians about his first children’s book, illustrated by Eric Wilkerson, I Color Myself Different, which is scheduled for an April, 2022 publication from Scholastic Press and Kaepernick Publishing. The book is described as "a joyful ode to Black and Brown people and communities," based on real events from Kaepernick's life.

LibLearnX takes the place of the ALA’s long-running Midwinter Meeting (retired after 107 shows dating back to 1908), which took its final bow with the 2021 virtual event.

Designed as an in-person event with a strong virtual component, LibLearnX will be virtual only in its first year. The live event was originally set to take place in San Antonio, Texas, but in September, amid a spike in Covid-19 cases and a troubling public health approach in the state of Texas, ALA made the call to shift to a virtual-only show for this year—a decision that looks prescient given of the emergence of the omicron variant.

The good news: ALA has amassed some great experience with online events having now pulled off three excellent virtual shows since the onset of the pandemic. LibLearnX will carry forward a number of popular features from ALA Midwinter, including an exhibits hall, awards ceremonies, and big-name speakers. But the show’s primary focus is a strong and interactive slate of programming—an “active learning experience” featuring an array of sessions ranging from hands-on, in-depth workshops to shorter, more informal offerings.

The inaugural program will have more than 120 education sessions on issues vital to the profession, including diversity, equity, and inclusion; career development and leadership; community outreach and partnerships; digital equity; mental health; technology; innovation; and, of course, books and authors. The LLX Marketplace, meanwhile, will host exhibitors offering the newest titles, technologies, and services.

You can still register for this year’s LibLearnX here. And to keep up with the event, follow #LibLearnX on ALA’s social media accounts.

Additional Speakers

Saturday, January 22, from 10:30 - 11:00 a.m. CT: The "theater" speakers begin with Angeline Boulley, who writes about her Ojibwe community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Boulley will discuss her debut novel, the bestselling YA thriller Firekeeper’s Daughter (Holt), about a Native teen who must root out corruption in her community. The book is currently being adapted as a Netflix series by Higher Ground Productions, the production company founded by Barack and Michelle Obama.

Saturday, January 22, from noon - 12:45 p.m. CT: famed illustrator Charly Palmer will discuss his author-illustrator debut, The Legend of Gravity (Macmillan), billed as a "tall tale about a neighborhood basketball hero," Palmer tells the story of Gravity, a new kid on the Hillside Projects basketball team, who once jumped so high that his teammates went out for ice cream before he came back down.

Sunday, January 23, from 9 - 9:45 a.m. CT: comedian and author Molly Shannon, who spent six seasons as a Saturday Night Live cast member, will discuss her forthcoming book, Hello, Molly! A Memoir (Ecco), which is set for publication in April 2022. The book, which earned a starred review from PW, details Shannon’s early years, her rise to fame, and behind-the-scenes stories from her time at SNL.

Sunday, January 23, from 12:30 - 1:15 p.m. CT: Kelly Yang, the bestselling author of the middle grade series starter Front Desk, which received the 2019 Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature, will discuss her latest middle grade novel, New from Here (Simon & Schuster), which follows an Asian American boy as he fights to keep his family together and stands up to racism.

Sunday, January 23, from 2 - 2:30 p.m. CT: Cicely Lewis will discuss her August release Mass Incarceration, Black Men, and the Fight for Justice (Lerner), which deals with the history and causes of mass incarceration and how activists are reforming and rethinking the justice system, as well as her forthcoming book, Resistance to Slavery: From Escape to Everyday Rebellion (Lerner, Jan. 2022). In addition to being an author, Lewis is a school librarian and the founder of Read Woke Books, in partnership with Lerner Publishing.

Sunday, January 23, from 3:30 - 4:00 p.m. CT: Jacqueline Woodson, author of more than 30 books for young adults, middle graders, and adults, will discuss two of her forthcoming children’s books from Penguin Young Readers imprint Nancy Paulsen Books: The Year We Learned to Fly (Jan. 2022), the highly anticipated companion to The Day You Begin, illustrated by Rafael López; and The World Belonged to Us (May 2022), illustrated by Leo Espinosa, an homage to her own childhood and a celebration of the joy and freedom of summer in the city. Woodson is a four-time Newbery Honor author and a three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner.

Monday, January 24, from 10:30 - 11:15 a.m. CT: Mariko Tamaki discuss her forthcoming book for young adults, Cold: A Novel (Roaring Brook), which is set to release in February 2022. Tamaki is the cocreator, with illustrator Jillian Tamaki, of the Caldecott Honor-winning This One Summer, and she received an Eisner Award, a Governor General Literary Award, and a Michael L. Printz Honor. Tamaki also writes comic books for Boom! Studios, Marvel, and DC Comics.


The popular I Love My Librarian Awards, the annual contest that allows library users to recognize the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, college, community college, or university librarians, will take place on Saturday, January 22 (3:30–5 p.m. CT).

The Books & Media Awards, celebrating the year’s best in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, audiobook narration, and reference materials—including the announcement of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, which recognize the best books in those categories for adult readers published in the U.S. in the previous year—is set for Sunday, June 23 (5–7 p.m. CT).

And perhaps the most anticipated awards of all, the ALA Youth Media Awards, which includes the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and Coretta Scott King awards, are set for Monday, January 24 at 8 a.m. CT. A live video stream will be available to the public here.

As always, consult the LibLearnX website for any changes or additions.