Holding Space: A national conversation series with libraries
"Holding Space: A national conversation series with libraries" is the American Library Association’s nationwide virtual tour to highlight the innovation and impact of a diverse range of libraries and engage stakeholders to advocate for libraries and the communities they serve.
A part of ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr.’s broader work to build relationships and strengthen connections, Holding Space will feature town halls, round table discussions and interviews with library leaders, state and local partners, and elected officials covering topics ranging from HBCUs and academic libraries, to school, tribal, and public libraries—all while amplifying the concerns of each community along the route.
You can visit more than a dozen libraries and the communities they serve over the course of ten days with Julius Jefferson. The tour kicks off on July 27, 2020 from the Library of Congress and winds its way across the country to Oakland, CA, on August 7, 2020. Each stop of the tour will be broadcast via Zoom and available on YouTube after the conclusion of the tour so members can join in the conversation. Register for tour events below and sign up to receive updates about the tour.
You can view all videos from the tour on our YouTube channel.
“Libraries are—and have always been—community anchors, addressing challenges in times of peace and in times of crisis. When I was elected ALA President I knew I wanted to shine a light on programs and communities that don’t get the attention they deserve, and this virtual format allows us to critically examine our cultural moment through the lens of the most pressing issues in our profession.”
— ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr.
Aloha from Hawaii,
For the last stop on our 12-stop virtual tour, through the magic of technology, our bus hopped the ocean and stopped at the Hawaii State Public Library
We were joined on our grand finale of the Holding Space tour by legislators in Hawaii who are champions for libraries for a discussion entitled “Spirit of Aloha: Hawaii Libraries Light the Path.” We also heard about the thriving Hawaiian library ecosystem, as we talked with rising library leaders in the state, who shared their thoughts and vision about the future of librarianship.READ MORE
Hello from Oakland.
Today was the last day of our virtual bus tour and we covered a lot of ground, making two stops in two states, and even crossing the Pacific Ocean to visit Hawaii.
Our first stop was at the Oakland Public Library, where we learned how the library is embracing its community and empowering youth by encouraging literary expression.
We were joined by several of Oakland’s Youth Poet Laureate finalists, whose names you will be hearing. They are proof that our youth are not our future, they are our present. They are this moment.READ MORE
Hello, from Carson City, Nevada.
Our bus traveled to the Nevada State Library, where we took a deep dive into the world of virtual reality and how libraries are using this technology to train the workforce of tomorrow.
I met with librarians across institutions as well as partners and stakeholders to illustrate the importance of partnerships as libraries confront the current economic challenges faced by so many Nevada residents.READ MORE
Hello from Cordes Lakes, Arizona.
Continuing its westward journey, our bus traveled to the Cordes Lakes Library for an important discussion, “From Interior to Border: Libraries Reaching Rural Communities,” of the rural library’s unique role in keeping residents connected and cultivating community relationships.
Libraries are essential in rural areas like Cordes Lakes, where the library has seen a 60-percent increase in the number of visits. It is so heavily used that an expansion was necessary.READ MORE
Greetings from Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico,
Today our bus took us to the Jemez Pueblo Community Library, where we learned about the need for broadband in tribal communities.
Residents in these communities often lack high-capacity broadband service. Cutting people off from information, education, and work. In this time of COVID-19, people are impacted by lack of access to everything from telehealth to distance learning. It even affects matters of life and death, with the ability to use the amber alert system.READ MORE
Hello from Norman, Oklahoma!
Today, our bus traveled to Oklahoma to visit the Pioneer Library System in Oklahoma, where we learned about the critical work of libraries in promoting workforce development.
I was pleased to learn about the incredible ways this library system has connected with its community. Pioneer is a superb example of how libraries are catalysts for economic opportunity and progress in their communities.READ MORE
Hello from Lubbock, Texas.
Today I met with a group of dynamic school library professionals and discussed the indispensable contributions of school librarians in Lubbock, Texas and throughout the state.
As one of the largest states by size and population, Texas school libraries are at the heart of a vast and diverse network of schools. They are providing an invaluable service during these challenging times. I appreciate what the librarians of Texas are doing for their communities.READ MORE
Hello from Pine Bluff,
Today I had the pleasure of hosting a town hall at the John Brown Watson Memorial Library at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, spotlighting the significant role of Historically Black College and University Libraries (HBCU) in shaping the future of libraries, students, and developing the library leaders of tomorrow.
For today’s discussion entitled “Strengthening Communities and Developing Leaders at HBCU Libraries,” we were joined by an esteemed group of leaders, activists, and legends in librarianship.READ MORE
Hello from Nashville,
Today I had the honor of speaking with Nashville Public Library Director Kent Oliver and the library’s Civil Rights and Votes for Women Rooms Director Andrea Blackman.
This was an opportunity to continue a face-to-face conversation that we began pre-pandemic regarding how libraries bring communities together to learn about the past, confront the present, and envision a better future. I appreciated the hospitality I encountered, so much that it was very difficult to leave.READ MORE
Hello from the road,
Today I had the honor of speaking with library professionals in Zanesville, Ohio who are diligently working to ensure that rural communities have broadband access.
Prior to the pandemic, the Muskingum County Library played a key role in bridging the Digital Divide by responding to challenges surrounding community connectivity. During the pandemic, local libraries continue to serve as a lifeline for the more than 30 percent of residents without internet access. About 78 percent of surrounding rural areas are unable to access the internet regularly due to issues of accessibility and/or affordability.READ MORE
Hello from the road,
Today was the first step towards highlighting the significant contributions of our nation’s libraries and library workers, with the launch of “Holding Space: a national conversation series with libraries.”
This week and next, I will pay virtual visits to 12 libraries in 10 days. Libraries of all types in Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, and California are on our Zoom roadmap.READ MORE