The theme for this year’s 9th Sharjah International Library Conference, running 8-10 November, is aptly titled Moving Forward Together. The Conference itself is adapting this year and will provide a hybrid model offering both in-person and virtual participation for librarians around the world.

Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, will be the opening keynote of the conference, with her presentation live-streamed to virtual registrants, while the American Library Association (ALA) President Patty Wong will present the second day keynote. They will be joined by dozens of other experts from North America, Europe and the MENA region for workshops and programs.

The Sharjah International Library Conference is an annual collaboration between the ALA, the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) and Combined Book Exhibit held in conjunction with SIBF. After going virtual last year, the conference is looking forward to hosting 300 plus attendees in Sharjah in an environment that adheres to the rigorous safety standards set by the United Arab Emirates.

Opening on 8 November, the Conference offers delegates two full days of workshops. These include Project Outcome for Academic and Research Libraries: Measuring the True Value of Your Library, an interactive workshop created by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) that will instruct attendees on gathering outcome measurements to improve library services and strategies for communicating key results to stakeholders presented by Tiffany Garrett, Assistant Library Director, Nevada State College, and How to Successfully Market Your Library, offered by Sherine Eid, Head of International Library Projects Unit, Library Sector at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt, for library staff responsible for effectively and efficiently getting their library’s message on services and resources to targeted audiences at this critical time.

The main two-day Conference on 9 and 10 November will include concurrent sessions on how public, academic, school and government libraries have pivoted their staff, resources and offerings to meet the changing needs of their communities. Here are just a few:

Libraries in the MENA Region During Covid and Beyond will involve Dr. Hassan A. Alsereihy President of the Arab Federation for Libraries & Information (AFLI) and Professor, Department of Information Science King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia analysing the findings of an AFLI survey on how libraries in the MENA Region have responded during the pandemic, and what it means for the libraries and library associations in the region.

School librarians have had to become more than information specialists during the pandemic. Helping Students Cope and Recover through Bibliotherapy, presented by Dr. Huda Abbas, Director of Library and Research, King’s Academy in Jordan, will provide insight into the critical role bibliotherapy can play in the wellbeing of students of all ages.

The pandemic and the adaption to library services has highlighted the need for librarians to enhance proficiencies and learn new skill sets. Stuart Hamilton, Head of Libraries Development at the Local Government Management Agency Ireland, will discuss the need for Libraries and Skill Audits to set out learning road maps for the organisation and individual staff.

Two other ALA leaders will be presenting at the conference. Executive Director Tracie Hall in ...Go Together! will discuss the critical role of libraries in fostering equity, diversity and inclusion, and closing the information and digital divide, while ALA Immediate Past President Julius C. Jefferson Jr. will engage attendees on the vital role government libraries have played during the pandemic and how they are critical to informed societies.

In addition, there will be sessions on serving the visually impaired, faculty-librarian collaboration, and other important topics. The poster sessions will again be a highlight of best practices, and plenty of networking will go on during the Knowledge Café, and at lunches and breaks.

Michael Dowling is Director International Relations and Chapter Relations Offices, American Library Association