For immediate release | February 15, 2022

PLA announces additional 2022 conference speakers, Intellectual Freedom Forum programming

CHICAGO — The Public Library Association (PLA) is pleased to announce newly confirmed speakers for exciting events taking place at the PLA 2022 Conference, March 23—25 in Portland, Ore. In addition to Big Ideas and Author Lunch speakers, PLA has added an Intellectual Freedom Forum in response to coordinated attempts at book banning currently sweeping the nation.

Big Ideas, PLA’s version of “TED Talks,” will feature two inspiring speakers sure to challenge attendees' minds and spark their creativity. Big Ideas opens Thursday, March 24, with best-selling author, attorney, and entrepreneur Brittany K. Barnett. As a corporate attorney, Barnett was committed to pro bono representation of clients unjustly sentenced under federal drug laws. Her dedication to this life-changing work resulted in freedom for numerous people serving fundamental death sentences for federal drug offenses—including seven clients who received executive clemency from President Barack Obama. Learn more

Amy Schneider, American software engineer and recent Jeopardy! champion will close Big Ideas on Friday, March 25. Following an impressive 40-game winning streak, she became the most successful woman ever to compete on Jeopardy! She is second all-time in the show’s history, trailing only Ken Jennings, and the 11th highest-earning contestant of all time across all American game shows. Schneider is also the first openly transgender contestant to qualify for the Tournament of Champions. Learn more

Admission to Big Ideas sessions is included with Full Conference registrations, Exhibits-Plus badges, and Single-Day registrations for the day of the event. Big Ideas sessions will also be live-streamed to PLA Virtual Conference registrants.

PLA’s Author Lunches bring conference attendees together to network and socialize, hear from popular authors, and get books signed. Clothilde Ewing, whose debut picture book is called Stella Keeps the Sun Up, will join audiences for the first Author Luncheon on Thursday, March 24. With a diverse and impressive communications career spanning journalism, entertainment, politics, and nonprofits, Ewing was inspired to write her first book after reading a New York Times opinion piece by her now-editor, Denene Millner, titled “Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time.” Her goal is for children, whether they look like hers or not, to see children of color in books that have nothing to do with race or struggle and have everything to do with belonging and joy. Separate registration is required.

The second Author Lunch on Friday, March 25, will feature Linda Holmes, novelist, pop culture correspondent for NPR, and a host of the popular podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which has held sold-out live shows in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and elsewhere. Holmes appears regularly on NPR radio shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Before NPR, she wrote for New York magazine online and TV Guide, as well as for the groundbreaking website Television Without Pity. Her first novel, Evvie Drake Starts Over, was a New York Times bestseller. Separate registration is required.

In response to the coordinated attempts at book banning currently sweeping the nation, PLA will host an Intellectual Freedom Forum on Thursday, March 24. This event will encompass three sessions, including Ask a Lawyer with Stephanie Cole Adam, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based attorney specializing in serving professionals creating culture, and Deborah Caldwell Stone, executive director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom; facilitated round-table conversations styled on the World Café method; and the opportunity to sign up for a one-on-one consultation with staff from ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Topics addressed will include de-escalation, staff safety and wellbeing, organized challenges, Board relations, local and legislative advocacy, school partnerships, and community relations.

Admission to the Forum is included with Full Conference registrations, Single-Day registrations for March 24, and Exhibits-Plus badges. Additional information, including registration for one-on-one consultations, will be added on the PLA 2022 Conference Special Events page soon.

Offered biennially, the PLA Conference is the premier event for public libraries, drawing thousands of librarians, library support staff, trustees, friends and library vendors from across the country and around the world. Pre-conference programs start Tuesday, March 22, and cover topics ranging from Social Work-Inspired Best Practices to Project Outcome: Data for Impact & Improvement. Advance registration closes February 18, so register now for best rates. For complete details, visit the PLA Conference website.

For more information about other PLA events and programs, contact the PLA office at or (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA, or visit

About the Public Library Association

The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 10,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA, or


Samantha Lopez


American Library Association

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