After just three years, which included one virtual event and two modestly attended in-person shows, the American Library Association announced this week that it will cease its LibLearnX January conference after next year's meeting. The January 24-27, 2025 conference set for Phoenix is set to go ahead as planned, but will be the last LibLearnX.

“After careful evaluation and analysis of financial and other critical factors, the American Library Association Executive Board has decided that LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience will not be held in 2026,” reads an ALA release. “The board is actively thinking about the experiences and value ALA provides to its members.”

The release added that efforts are underway to move some of the popular events traditionally held at the ALA’s January conference, including the highlight of the show going back to its days as the ALA Midwinter Meeting, the Youth Media Awards, which features the announcement of the winners of prestigious Newbery and Caldecott awards. Other events that could be moved are the I Love My Librarian Awards; the RUSA Book & Media Awards (which features the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction); and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sunrise Celebration. ALA officials said decisions about those events would be made in consultation with the respective ALA “committees, round tables, and member leaders.”

The news comes after ALA reported that the second in-person LibLearnX conference, held in Baltimore in January, drew just 2,006 attendees (including 391 exhibitor attendees and 109 virtual attendees), a sharp decline from the 2,659 who attended the first in-person even in New Orleans in 2023. The decline was not unexpected, however, with the 2024 library conference calendar also featuring the bi-annual Public Library Association conference in Columbus, Ohio, in April (for which registrations are said to be strong). Still, by the close of this year’s show it was clear that LibLearnX was in trouble, with too many empty seats and lukewarm support from the vendor community.

The board is actively thinking about the experiences and value ALA provides to its members.

LibLearnX was years in the planning, designed to take the place of ALA’s long-running Midwinter Meeting, which was retired in 2021 after 107 shows dating back to 1908, taking its final bow with a pandemic-impacted virtual event. For contrast, the ALA Midwinter Meeting usually drew around 7,000 attendees, with the last in-person gathering in Philadelphia in 2020—just before the pandemic—drawing over 8,000.

Conceived well before the pandemic, the launch of LibLearnX was clearly impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, which made in-person shows challenging, and even after restrictions were eased impacted librarian travel budgets. The inaugural LibLearn X, which had been set for San Antonio, Tex. in January 2022 was forced to go virtual, hardly an ideal start.

Despite modest attendance, however, many librarians told PW the first in-person LibLearnX events in many ways delivered exactly what ALA membership had asked for when the association began reimagining the future of the ALA Midwinter Meeting years ago—fewer meetings, more educational offerings, an engaging speaker program for attendees, and more time to connect with peers.

Still, beyond the tough hand dealt by the pandemic, LibLearnX clearly suffered from an identity crisis. The name of the show never caught on with librarians. And many librarians told PW they simply didn’t see the value proposition in attending and that it was hard to justify the travel costs.

The 2026 LibLearnX, which had been set for National Harbor, Maryland will now be canceled. And for its final LibLearnX, ALA officials will hope that the allure of warm weather in Phoenix (and no PLA conference) will draw bigger numbers than this year.