ALA Annual Conference information for international librarians

Annual Conference logo

ALA Welcomes library professionals from around the world to the premier library event!

No other event in the world offers a better opportunity to learn about current issues and trends in library and information science and technology than the ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition. Throughout the conference, attendees participate in events, hear inspiring speakers, and learn from thought leaders and colleagues at more than 500 programs and in-depth sessions. Topics covered include digital content, innovation, the library of the future, transformation, emerging trends, best practices, community engagement, leadership, and many more. You will also have an opportunity to visit more than 800 vendors in the world’s largest library-focused exhibit hall, each highlighting new services, technologies, books, and products to improve your library and support your personal career development.


Especially for international visitors

Orientation—A special introduction to ALA, the conference, and the city of Chicago. ALA members will recommend programs and social activities to help you make the most of your conference experience.

Preconference—A half-day program focusing on how U.S. libraries are managing some of the important issues that affect librarians around the world.

International Poster Sessions—The 2020 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition poster session committee invites everyone to share their best ideas and work with the library community by presenting a poster session at the 2020 ALA Annual Conference. The International Poster session will take place on Sunday, June 28, 10:30am.12:00pm.

International Papers—ALA invites you to attend this year's International Projects and Paper Session.

International Reception—A special evening reception will be held in your honor so you can meet other international guests as well as colleagues from the U.S.

International Visitors Center (IVC)—A place where you can relax, review the conference program, or hold small meetings with new-found colleagues and friends. A computer with Internet access is provided, and ALA volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and help you. The IVC will be open from Friday - Sunday: 8:00am - 5:00pm and Monday, 8:00am - 2:00pm.

International Visitor's Center  

Your ALA Annual Conference registration includes all this and more:

  • 500+ educational programs, discussions, and workshops on key topics
  • World-renowned speakers and experts
  • Preconferences for in-depth professional development
  • Entrance to the exhibits where 800+ exhibitors at 1,500 stands highlight new and favorite products, titles, and services—one-stop shopping for everything your library needs
  • The opportunity for you to present a paper or poster
  • Meetings and events such as Opening and Closing General Sessions and ALA President’s Program
  • Dozens of social and fun events
  • Access to the International Visitor's Center and Internet Café and WIFI—online access so you can stay in touch
  • A free ticket to the popular International Librarians Reception (for full conference registrants)






Advance registration closes on June 15. A letter of confirmation will be sent by email once your full payment has been received. Make sure to print a copy of your registration confirmation and bring it with you for your records. 



    Compusystems and OnPeak, ALA’s Registration and Housing companies, will be glad to help you with your hotel reservation.

    Online: To make a hotel reservation online, please visit:  go to Travel and Hotels.

    Fax or mail: Please go to the link above and print out the 2020 Annual Conference Housing Reservation Form and mail/email to:

    Mail:                c/o onPeak LLC
                            Attn: ALA Annual 2019
                            350 North Clark Street, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60654, USA      


    Important hotel information:

    • You must be registered for the Annual conference in order to make a housing reservation.
    • Rooms are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. All rooms are subject to applicable tax and city and state charges.
    • All hotels require a one night (plus tax) credit card guarantee to hold your room. In the event that a credit card cannot be provided to guarantee your reservation, a check for the total amount of the first night (plus tax) - per room requested is required.  Please make check payable to: American Library Association (Checks must be in USD, drawn on a US bank)
    • All hotel rates are in US dollars.  Because the exchange rate changes everyday, we encourage International participants to make their deposits with a Credit Card (Visa, MasterCard, and/or American Express).
    • Failure to check into your hotel on the scheduled date of your arrival will result in the cancellation of your reservation and a charge equal to one night’s room and tax to the credit card used to guarantee your reservation.
    • All changes and/or cancelations prior to May 29, 2020 must be made through the OnPeak. Last minute cancels must be made with the hotels at least 7 days prior to the arrival date.
    • OnPeak, will e-mail or mail a registration and housing confirmation. If you do not receive a written confirmation within one week or have any questions, please e-mail or call OnPeak’s Customer Service Center at



    Letter of invitation - You will receive an invitation upon registering for the conference. If you need a letter of invitation before you register for the conference, please fill out the Request for Invitation Letter form or send a request to the International Relations Office at Please include your full employment information and mailing address. The official ALA letter of invitation is to be used to facilitate the processing of any visas or documents needed for you to attend the conference. ALA, however, is unable to provide financial support for your participation.


    Travel Visa requirements - Attendees who require an entry visa to visit the United States must allow sufficient time for the application procedure. Visa requirements often change and vary by country, so be sure to visit the U.S. State Department website for the latest information when planning your trip.
    Apply early!

    Conference location The majority of the conference will take place at McCormick Place, but there are also some sessions at various hotels, depending on the unit sponsoring them. Detailed location information for sessions is available on the ALA Scheduler.

    Ribbon-cutting and exhibits opening reception - The Exhibit Hall opens with a ribbon-cutting ceremony immediately following the Opening General Session that features a brief welcome by ALA and local dignitaries. The Exhibits Opening includes food, drink, and entertainment through the exhibit hall, giving exhibitors and attendees their first chance to network as the exhibits kick off. 

    ALA Preliminary ProgramThe programs and sessions that you'll find here are preliminary listings. More programs, sessions, and details will be added throughout the spring, descriptions will be updated, and by the time everything is finalized, you'll have more than 2,000 programs, sessions, events, and other opportunities to choose among.


    • International Meetings and Programs Schedule - List of meetings and events for the International Relations Committee (IRC), the International Relations Round Table (IRRT), and other ALA Offices hosting programs with an international focus.


    • IRRT Preconference - Libraries today continue to be attuned to meeting the needs of their communities. In the 21st century, libraries are encouraged to be the center of community life, to be community builders and places where people get involved. This pre-conference will focus on using innovation to address the needs of different communities.

    Frequently asked questions.


    List of countries represented at ALA Annual (list will be available in early May 2020)



    Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper and deep-dish pizza, offers world-class museums,music, food, architecture, and outdoor activities along the shores of Lake Michigan. Chicago offers up its best in the summertime—great museums, music, shopping, food, and outdoor activities along the shores of Lake Michigan. When you have free time, you can take advantage of the parks, free outdoor concerts, Navy Pier by with its stunning new Ferris wheel overlooking the lake, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Art Institute of Chicago and other museums, world-class architecture (boat and walking tours are highly recommended!), and much more. The wide range of shops includes the famous Magnificent Mile, and restaurants and cuisines range from popular hot dog, burger, and pizza joints to Michelin-starred spots. You can start planning for your free time now at  



    For more information regarding special events, tours, restaurants, museums, public transportation, and much more, visit:


    For additional information about the ALA 2020 Annual Conference, please return to the main conference page:



    International Librarians Reception pictures




    For More Information Contact:

    International Relations Office
    American Library Association
    50 E. Huron Street
    Chicago, Illinois 60611-2795
    Telephone: +1 312 280 3201
    Fax: +1 312 280 4392

    Visit our web site at:

    (Note: All panels, programs, and events are conducted in English only.)