ALA Connect Live Series

ALA Connect Live

In times of uncertainty, connection and conversation are more important than ever. This is what inspired the ALA Executive Board to launch a series of conversations with you, our membership community. Initially a focus of President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. to connect with members, ALA Connect Live is an opportunity to bring the ALA family and library community together to discuss our issues and challenges.

These town hall-inspired conversations allow for an open dialogue with the Executive Board and with your fellow library professionals.

Check back for information on the next ALA Connect Live soon.

Submit your questions in advance on these or any topics of interest to you.


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View video recordings of past events:

April 2023 - Our Brave Communities: Embracing School Librarians

There are many challenges facing the school library profession including equity of access to certified school librarians for students across the nation and an unprecedented number of book challenges and censorship efforts.

American Library Association (ALA) President Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada and American Association for School Librarians (AASL) President Kathy Lester hosted this session to explore how everyone in the library ecosystem can support school librarians and their students as they face these challenges.

This session includes an overview of the current state of school libraries from Keith Curry Lance, principal investigator for the IMLS-funded national study, "The School Librarian Investigation—Decline or Evolution?" As well as Liz Phipps-Soeiro highlighting efforts in Boston to increase the equity of access to certified school librarians; and Raegan Miller, Director of Development and Finance for the Florida Freedom to Read Project, and student organizer Cameron Samuels discussing building community support for school librarians fighting censorship.  

SLIDES: ALA Connect Live - School Librarians: Status as of 2021-22 (PDF)


Keith Curry Lance is the principal investigator for the IMLS-funded national study, The School Librarian Investigation—Decline or Evolution?  He consults independently and with the RSL Research Group.  From 1997-2007, he was the founding director of the Library Research Service at the Colorado State Library.  Between 1992 and 2014, he was also principal investigator for 16 state level school library impact studies.  In 2002, he was a featured speaker at the White House Conference on School Libraries, an event hosted by First Lady Laura Bush in the East Room of the White House.  In 2019, he received the IL Association of School Library Educators’ Crystal Honor Award; in 2013, AASL’s Distinguished Service Award; in 2007, the CO Association of Libraries’ Career Achievement Award; and in 2006, ASCLA’s Leadership Achievement Award.


Liz Phipps Soeiro (she/her) holds a BSEd from Lesley University, an MLS from Simmons University and an EdM from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is currently the Director of Library Services for Boston Public Schools, Liz is also the founder of the Cambridge Book Bike,  named a 2017 Library Journal "Mover & Shaker", 2017 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year: Hero of Family Outreach. Her work focuses on developing criticality in children and educators, justice based and antiracist educational practices in libraries and schools, and empowering children to take action in the world around them through grassroots and civic initiatives.


Raegan Miller is the Director of Development and Finance for the Florida Freedom to Read Project. She is the mother of two public school children in Pinellas County, Florida. She has been active in education advocacy since her oldest started kindergarten. She has served in many roles in local, county and state PTA. She firmly believes that a high quality education should be available to all students in the public school system.


Cameron Samuels (they/them/theirs) graduated in 2022 from the Katy Independent School District in Texas where they organized the FReadom Week initiative to distribute a total of 700+ challenged or banned books across Texas. Once the only student to speak at school board meetings, receiving no applause while other speakers called for book banning, Samuels built a student-led movement within months by packing school board meetings. Decisions were made to keep certain books on shelves, and while now a student at Brandeis University, Samuels’ efforts to combat censorship across the state of Texas and the nation are ongoing.

December 2022 - Our Brave Communities: Facing Censorship Head On with ALA

American Library Association President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada welcomed panelists Martha Hickson, School Librarian at North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional High School, Brian Raitz, director of the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library, and Lisa Varga, Executive Director of the Virginia Library Association, for a conversation on censorship issues in libraries, legislation and how ALA has helped fight back against book banning efforts. The discussion was moderated by Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair Lesliediana Jones.

Additionally Ed Garcia, Committee on Legislation Chair, and ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office Senior Director Alan Inouye provided information on what the 2022 election results mean for libraries plus some previews about gearing up for library advocacy in 2023.

    Guest Speakers

    • Martha Hickson is the school librarian at North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional High School.

    • Brian Raitz is the director of the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library.

    • Lisa Varga is the Executive Director of the Virginia Library Association. She is a member of the American Library Association Policy Corps and has served on committees and workgroups for ALA. She has been very active in fighting book banning and censorship in Virginia and beyond, and was in the courtroom last August when Judge Pamela Baskervill dismissed cases against the authors and publishers of Gender Queer and A Court of Mist and Fury.

    Moderator: Lesliediana Jones, ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair

    • Ed Garcia is the Library Director at the Cranston Public Library in Cranston, RI and is the Chair of the ALA Committee on Legislation and serves on the ALA Constitution and Bylaws Committee. He was both an ALA Emerging Leader and Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2010, served three terms as an ALA Councilor-at-Large as well as a 3-year term on the ALA Executive Board, and was also an ALA Presidential Candidate in 2021.

    • Alan S. Inouye is senior director of public policy & government relations and interim associate executive director for the American Library Association. Previously, he was a coordinator of the President’s Council of Advisors of Science and Technology, Executive Office of the President in the White House, and a study director at the National Academy of Sciences.

    Here is a list of helpful links shared in the session chat: December 2022 ALA Connect Live Chat Links (pdf)

    April 2022 - Small, Rural, and Tribal Libraries as Community Anchors

    ALA President Patty Wong has held a long-standing belief that small, rural, and tribal libraries serve as vital community anchors through their active roles in advocating and in providing equitable resources and connectivity for all. In addition to the many other services they provide, these libraries are hubs of connectivity for these communities that often have no other access. During the pandemic, the disparity between the haves and have-nots in the digital age has been of special concern in small, rural, and tribal communities.

    In this one-hour ALA Connect Live session, our guest speakers engage in thoughtful conversation on how tribal libraries are advocating and providing accessibility for their communities.

    Moderator: Cindy Hohl, Immediate Past-president of the American Indian Library Association and Director of Operations, Kansas City Public Library.

    • Jonna C. Paden (Acoma/Laguna Pueblo) is the Librarian and Archivist at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Library & Archives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
    • Allison Waukau (Menominee/Navajo) resides in Minneapolis and works in community outreach.

    Here is a list of helpful links shared in the session chat: April 2022 ALA Connect Live Chat Links (pdf)

    February 2022 - Sustainability and Climate Action for Libraries and Our Communities

    Sustainability is a core value of ALA. Under her ALA presidential themes this year, President Patty Wong has continued her life-long passion for sustainability and how the communities adapt to climate change through library services. This Connect Live session is a call to action for those who understand and those who may not be aware of the role that libraries can and should have in supporting our communities to adapt to ongoing climate change, showcasing what some library champions are doing to help their communities while being an engaging conversation as to what that action looks like.

    Moderator: Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Executive Director, Mid-Hudson Library System.


    • Uta Hussong-Christian: Uta is an Associate Professor and Science Librarian at Oregon State University and past chair of the ALA’s Sustainability Round Table. She now serves on the ALA’s Council Committee on Sustainability and was the co-author of the recent Council Resolution on Carbon Neutral Conferences.
    • Michele Stricker: Michele is Deputy State Librarian for the New Jersey State Library. Michele is the author/project manager for the Disaster Preparedness & Community Resiliency Toolkit, which is a unique resource created by both librarians and emergency responders.

    Here is a list of helpful links shared in the session chat: February 2022 ALA Connect Live Links from Chat (pdf)

    February 2022 ALA Connect Live Slides (pdf)

    November 2021 - DEI Perspectives

    As the first ALA President of Chinese American heritage, Patty Wong chose the theme of Libraries Connect — across our diverse backgrounds, experiences, and futures  for — her presidential year. During this period of such rapid demographic changes on a national scale, it is imperative that library professionals connect to one another through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the ALA’s fundamental values. November's ALA Connect Live event will feature a conversation facilitated by Dr. Nicole Cooke about equity, diversity, and inclusion through the lens of programs, initiatives, and scholarships that are impactful, meaningful, and actionable. Dr. Cooke, the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and an Associate Professor at the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina, will be joined by Ray Pun, President of the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), and Pambanisha Whaley, Head of User Services at Vassar College Libraries

    Guest Speakers:

    • Dr. Nicole Cooke is the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and as Associate Professor at the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina.
    • Ray Pun (he/him) is the President of the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), and currently on the ALA Committees on Library Advocacy and International Relations. He is the Education and Outreach Manager at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives, Stanford University.
    • Pambanisha Whaley is the Head of User Services at Vassar College Libraries. She has been an academic librarian for over 18 years and her research interests include: workplace incivility, library residency programs, and resource sharing.

    ALA Key Resources:

    Here is a list of helpful links shared in the session chat: November 2021 ALA Connect Live Links from Chat (pdf)

    September 2021 - LIS Call to Action

    Current and recent Spectrum Scholars Mimosa Shah and Randy Heath and LIS educator Dr. Maurice Wheeler  talked with ALA President Patty Wong about how they’ve jumped into the relevant conversations, gotten involved in the work of envisioning the future of the profession, and discussed what we can do to actively change the internal culture of the places where we work and how our work experience in libraries informs how we champion social justice and EDI issues in our communities.

    Guest speakers:

    • Dr. Maurice Wheeler, Associate Professor, Department of Information Science, College of Information, University of North Texas.
    • Ms. Mimosa Shah, 2020-2021 Spectrum Scholar at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Chair of ALA's Public and Cultural Program Advisory Committee, and member of the Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Advisory Board for the Museum Computer Network.
    • Mr. Randy Heath, 2021-2022 Spectrum Scholar and University of South Carolina Augusta Baker Scholar, and Branch Manager, Edgewood Branch, Richland Library, Columbia, South Carolina.

    Useful resources:

    May 2021 - Passing the Gavel

    President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. and President-Elect Patty Wong sat down for an engaging and thoughtful conversation about their presidential years. President Jefferson reflected on his unexpected year leading the association through the pandemic and President-Elect Wong gave attendees a glimpse into the priorities of the association for the upcoming year. This session celebrated past successes and challenges, and offered members the opportunity to be inspired by the road into the future. This was the final episode of President Jefferson’s ALA Connect Live program.

    April 2021 - Library Marketing and Outreach

    President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. leads this discussion about library marketing and outreach and we hear from innovators across the country who are using new tools to connect to their audiences. Joining the conversation are ALA Communications and Marketing Office Director Stephanie Hlywak, who will talk about ALA’s approach to public awareness, as well as John Schaffer – better known as the viral sensation Curbside Larry—library TikToker Sara Vickers, who chronicles days at the Woodland Public Library (and Henrietta, the library cat who lives there), Natalie Kiburg, Social Media Specialist at Gail Borden Public Library District (Elgin, IL), and Ashley Cooksey, from University of Central Arkansas (Conway, AK).

    March 2021 - Leveraging Partnerships with Chapters

    President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. and ALA Chapter leaders came together to discuss the positive impact that state and national partnerships have on libraries and library workers. This ALA Connect Live session features three success stories from the last year where we worked together to protect two fundamental rights of libraries – equity, diversity and inclusion and intellectual freedom – as well as to advocate for libraries during these challenging times.


    February 2021 - Sustainable Development

    Join President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. for the first ALA Connect Live program of 2021 taking place on February 25, 2021. ALA recognizes the important and unique role libraries play in wider community conversations about resiliency, climate change, a sustainable future, and what libraries themselves can do. This extends to being part of global initiatives to achieve sustainable development. Listen to learn about ALA efforts and new resources for you - and how you and your library can be change agents. This important ALA Connect Live included Loida Garcia-Febo, Chair of the ALA Task Force on UN Sustainable Development Goal and Casey Conlin, Coordinator, SustainRT.

    February 2021 ALA Connect Live Slides

    Recording Passcode: B%O!8L?.

    November 2020 - LIS Student Segment

    November's ALA Connect Live program was geared specifically towards ALA Student Members and LIS Students. ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. was joined by fellow leaders from the association who spoke to the employment outlook in various library settings and various library roles. Panelists included:

    • Ramiro Salazar, Past President, Public Library Association and Director of the San Antonio Public Library
    • Kathy Carroll, Lead Library Media Specialist at Westwood High School, South Carolina and President, American Association of School Librarians
    • Jon Cawthorne, Phd, Dean of Wayne State University Library System and School of Information Sciences in Detroit, MI, and President, Association of College and Research Librarians
    • Kirby McCurtis, a regional library director at Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon and President, Association for Library Service to Children.
    • Courtney McDonald, User Experience Librarian and Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Libraries, and President, Reference and User Services Association
    • Christopher Cronin, Associate University Librarian for Collections at Columbia University and President, Core
    • Amanda Barnhart, Branch Manager at the Kansas City Public Library - North-East Branch in Kansas City, MO, and President, Young Adult Library Services Association 
    • Carrie Banks is Supervising Librarian for Inclusive Services at Brooklyn Public Library in New York and President, Association of Specialized, Government, and Cooperative Library Agencies (dissolved as a division of ALA in September).
    • Jennifer Wilhelm, Business Librarian at Texas A&M University Libraries, and a representative from the New Member Round Table.

    Here is a list of leadership recommendations for personal growth. This bibliography was selected by Dr. Jon Cawthorne, PhD, President of the Association of College & Research Librarians (ACRL) - Personal Growth/Leadership Bibliography

    October 2020 - COVID-19 and REALM Project Update

    President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. focused on the COVID-19 Research Project conducted by OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and Battelle. The REALM Project (REopening Archives, Libraries and Museums) is conducting research on how long the COVID-19 virus survives on materials that are prevalent in libraries, archives, and museums and is currently in phase 5 of their testing. The project will draw upon the research to produce authoritative, science-based information on how—or if— materials can be handled to mitigate exposure to staff and visitors. Joining the conversation - R. Crosby Kemper III, Director, IMLS and Sharon Streams Director, WebJunction from OCLC about this research.

    Recording Passcode: aC+Xy7*e

    September 2020 - Intellectual Freedom

    President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr focused on intellectual freedom and celebrating the freedom to read for this session. President Jefferson was joined by Freedom to Read Foundation President, Barbara Stripling and ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair, Martin L. Garnar for this program - scheduled the week prior to Banned Books Week. Click here for a preview of a complimentary resource for members, Banned Books: Defending Our Freedom to Read by Robert P. Doyle.

    Recording Passcode: i3AZbS&p

    August 2020 - Reopening

    ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. lead the discussion on reopening and recovery initiatives within libraries. With the academic school year kicking off, you’re invited to gather with fellow members and ALA leadership to discuss how libraries are approaching reopening during the coronavirus. President Jefferson will be joined by American Association of School Librarians (AASL) President Kathy Carroll and Public Library Association (PLA) President Michelle Jeske to talk about reopening plans in their library sectors.

    Recording Password: 8$fnr&Xr

    August 2020 Transcript


    July 2020 - Holding Space

    President Jefferson will be joined by ALA’s Executive Director Tracie Hall and ACRL President Jon E. Cawthorne to review our recent actions on EDI. He will also share his vision for his upcoming Holding Space tour and the role that the tour plays in building relationships and embracing the diversity of the library community.

    Recording Password: 2jdgKhA!

    July 2020 Transcript

    June 2020 - Virtual Inaugural Event for ALA Member Leaders

    A special edition of ALA Connect Live honoring incoming ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., ALA President-elect, newly elected Executive Board Members, and incoming Division Presidents at this virtual inaugural event.

    May 2020 - COVID-19 and the Well-being of Library Workers

    Covering topics like the work of ALA and its sister organization ALA-APA in addressing library workers’ well-being during the pandemic, the projects of IMLS and other partners as libraries look toward reopening, and additional resources available for all members of the profession.

    April 2020 - COVID-19 and the Library Community Response

    2019-20 ALA President Wanda Brown joined by Tracie D. Hall, ALA Executive Director; Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., ALA President-Elect; Kathi Kromer, Associate Executive Director, Public Policy and Advocacy; and other ALA member and staff leaders who will provide updates on:

    • The ALA Executive Board’s actions in response to the pandemic
    • Advocacy on the Hill