After years of planning at the American Library Association, it's finally here: The library community is set to gather for the first in-person edition of the ALA’s nascent winter event, LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience. The 2021 event, which was scheduled for San Antonio, Tex., was forced to go virtual only.

The show kicks off today and is set to run through January 30 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, and will feature a diverse slate of workshops, panels, and programs, a main speaker program, and an exhibit hall not unlike the show’s predecessor, the now-defunct ALA Midwinter Meeting. Day one will feature internal ALA sessions (including ALA Gives Back, which will benefit nonprofit 826 New Orleans) and a welcome reception that will officially kick-off the event and feature the “I Love My Librarian” Awards.

The main speaker program begins January 28, with an opening session from Ibram X. Kendi and Nic Stone, authors of How to Be a (Young) Antiracist. Over the next few days, attendees will participate is more 100 educational sessions and breakout experiences, including a workshop on fighting book bans. Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter, political activist, and bestselling author Ani DiFranco will close the conference on January 30.

Other highlights include three ALA Presidential Programs facilitated by ALA president Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada and ALA president-elect Emily Drabinski; and the Symposium on the Future of Libraries, sponsored by the Center for the Future of Libraries.

If you can't be in New Orleans, you can attend virtually. Online attendees can access a curated selection of 40+ live and on-demand sessions, including the opening and closing sessions, author speakers on the LLX Studio stage, education sessions, and award celebrations. Registration ends on January 30, but includes access to this content through March 3.


Most of the main speaker lineup has been announced and updated, but as always check the LibLearnX website for late additions or changes. All of the main speakers listed here will appear at the LLX Studio Stage, unless otherwise listed.

Speaker events begin Saturday, January 28 with Ibram X. Kendi and Nic Stone, authors of How to Be a (Young) Antiracist (8:30–9:45 a.m.). "Kendi's bestselling How to Be an Antiracist, released in 2019 from One World (an imprint of Penguin Random House), reframed a vital conversation about race and racism in our society. How to Be a (Young) Antiracist, out on January 31, is a new adaptation for teens.

Next up will be Carole Lindstrom and Steph Littlebird (10:30–11:30 a.m.), who will discuss their forthcoming picture book My Powerful Hair (Abrams, Mar. 2023), billed by the publisher as “an empowering children’s picture book about family history, self-expression, and reclaiming your identity.”

Bestselling author Brian Selznick (12:30–1:30 p.m) will follow. Selznick's forthcoming book, Big Tree, will be available in April from Scholastic.

Following Selznick will be a panel discussion titled Inclusivity in Entertainment: Uplifting Black Voices (2–3 p.m.), featuring celebrity photographer Carell Augustus, filmmaker Ali Biko Sulaiman Kamanda, actor Eriq LaSalle, and assistant district attorney Jorge Redmond, all with forthcoming books from Sourcebooks. The discussion, moderated by author and pop culture writer Caseen Gaines, will present the panelists’ new titles as part of a discussion on diversity and representation across genres in book publishing.

And closing out the Saturday slate will be author Willie Mae Brown (4–5 p.m.). Brown’s autobiographical children’s book My Selma: True Stories of a Southern Childhood at the Height of the Civil Rights Movement (FSG) publishes in January 2023.

Sunday, January 29, kicks off on the main stage at the Morial Convention Center with an ALA Presidential Program titled Library Workers: Organize and Activate.

Moderated by ALA president Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada and ALA President-Elect Emily Drabinski, the panel will explore the power in organizing, and will feature K.C. Boyd, a school librarian with the District of Columbia Public Schools System; Lesley Garrett, a Library Associate II at Seattle Public Library as well as a Reference Assistant at Seattle Central College; Candice (Wing-yee) Mack, a system-wide manager of Young Adult Services at the Los Angeles Public Library; and veteran library leader, Elizabeth Martinez whose 2020 memoir A Jaguar in the Library (Floricanto Press) recounts her extraordinary journey as a Chicano librarian.

The main speaker program for Sunday will open with a conversation with poet and author Clint Smith (1–2 p.m.). Smith will discuss his forthcoming collection, Above Ground (Little, Brown, Mar. 2023).

Following Smith will be bestselling author, journalist, and activist Cory Doctorow (2:30–3:30 p.m.). Doctorow’s forthcoming Red Team Blues (Tor), a thriller set in the crypto market, is set for April.

And closing the show on January 30 will be Ani DiFranco, who will speak about her debut picture book, The Knowing, due out from Rise x Penguin Workshop, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers on March 7.

Awards and more

One of the best things about being back in person is that the awards receptions and celebrations are much better than their Zoom counterparts. On that score, LibLearnX will open Friday with a Welcome Reception that will feature the winners of the annual I Love My Librarian Awards (6–8 p.m.) at the Marriott New Orleans Mardi Gras Ballroom, with light refreshments and music.

On Sunday, the 24th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration (6:30–8 a.m.) will take place at the Marriott New Orleans Salon E, sponsored by the ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services; the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Task Force of the ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table; and the Black Caucus of the ALA. The popular annual event celebrates the connection between King’s work and the library world, and will feature an as yet-to-be-announced keynote speaker.

The Books & Media Awards, also on Sunday (4–5 p.m.), will celebrate the year’s best in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, audiobook narration, and reference materials, and includes the announcement of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, which recognize the best books in fiction and nonfiction for adult readers published in the U.S. in the previous year. The two medal winners will be announced from the LLX Stage, with a celebratory event to follow at the ALA Annual Conference in June.

And the most anticipated ALA awards of all, the ALA Youth Media Awards—which include the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and Coretta Scott King awards—will take place at the Morial Convention Center’s New Orleans Stage on Monday (8–9 a.m.). The event will also be streamed live online.

Check the LibLearnX website for details.