After years of planning, the library community is set to gather for the first-ever in-person edition of the ALA’s nascent winter event, LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience. Registration is open.

Set for Friday–Monday, Jan. 27–30, 2023, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans and the conference will feature a diverse slate of workshops, panels, and programs, as well as a main speaker program and an exhibit hall not unlike the show’s predecessor, the now-defunct ALA Midwinter Meeting. But LibLearnX will have a decidedly different focus, and after years of planning—and then re-planning in response to the pandemic—conference organizers are eager to showcase the vision behind the event.

“This really is a brand new endeavor,” says ALA president Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada, adult services assistant manager at the Palos Verdes (Calif.) Library District, sounding a note of excitement after this year’s debut LibLearnX was forced to go virtual only amid a spike in Covid cases. While the 2023 show will also feature a robust virtual offering, being back in person is an important step, Pelayo-Lozada says. “LibLearnX is going to be really hands-on. It will be very library worker focused in terms of professional development, and I see it really as a learning opportunity.”

A conference focused on learning and connecting with peers is exactly what ALA membership asked for years ago, when the association began reimagining the ALA Midwinter Meeting, which had not been working well for members. And LibLearn X certainly comes at a pivotal time for libraries and the ALA: a wave of book bans has created unprecedented challenges for the library community; diversity, equity, and inclusion work remains a key priority; and thorny questions loom about everything from funding to public health policy and worker safety as Covid restrictions fade. All of these issues and many more will be explored in the more than 120 peer-led sessions on tap in the professional program.

“This is an opportunity to be at the forefront of reimagining what in-person professional development looks like,” Pelayo-Lozada says. “Everyone who attends is absolutely going to help inform the future not only of LibLearnX but of all ALA conferences, and really how we operate as an association.”


Most of the main speaker lineup has been announced, 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 with 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.”

Next up 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.

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 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, featuring 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.

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.