ACRL 2017 continues record breaking paid attendance trend

For Immediate Release
Tue, 04/04/2017


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


CHICAGO – ACRL 2017 lived up to its tagline as a premier professional development event for academic libraries. More than 5,200 library professionals, exhibitors, speakers and guests from around the world met from March 22 – 25, in Baltimore, Maryland, and online for the conference. Paid registration figures are the highest ever for an ACRL conference continuing an upward trend in participation, with 3,499 face-to-face and more than 246 virtual attendees from all 50 states and 31 countries. Conference offerings attracted more than 1,320 first-time attendees, the highest recorded.

Themed At the Helm: Leading Transformation, academic library staff and supporters had access to more than 500 dynamic sessions curated by academic librarians and more than 200 exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge products.  Key topics of discussion focused on advocacy, digital literacy, diversity and social justice, open access and a variety of other issues affecting university and college libraries. 

“The conference came at time of great social and professional exploration as many of us look for additional resources to tackle issues regarding diversity, working with millennials, scholarly communication, and looming federal budget cuts,” said ACRL President Irene Herold. “ACRL 2017 provided a timely opportunity for colleagues to come together and explore diverse ideas and insights that will definitely have an impact on future engagement with their constituents.”

Attendees departed the conference feeling energized to take on future challenges. For example, Karen Klein, head of Access Services, with Lake Forest (Ill.) College stated, “What a powerful conference, I’m leaving feeling empowered to continue my work with students and faculty.” While those not in attendance monitoring #ACRL2017 longed to be onsite with colleagues. For example, Matthew Ciszek, head librarian, Lartz Memorial Library, Penn State Shenango, tweeted “Based upon the extremely interesting tweets I'm seeing on #acrl2017, I'm really missing out this year! I may have to start going again.”

ACRL 2017 featured a line-up of distinguished speakers who inspired, questioned and pushed the envelope on issues of race, social justice, big data and much more.  Information Designer David McCandless discussed how to lend power to data through visualization tools and resources; Author and Cultural Critic Roxane Gay highlighted issues of diversity and social activism; and Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden closed the conference with stories that inspired and celebrated the value of librarians of all types.

Approximately 245 attendees who were not able to travel to Baltimore participated virtually. The ACRL 2017 Virtual Conference offered access to 12 live webcasts, bringing attendees together within the virtual community to interact in real time with participants and presenters. The Virtual Conference also provides access to more than 200 Slidecasts (PowerPoint presentations synced with real-time audio) from every contributed paper, invited presentation, lightning talk, panel session, and TechConnect program presented at ACRL 2017. All conference attendees (both virtual and onsite paid registrations) will have access to the Virtual Conference community for the next year.

As the excitement surrounding ACRL 2017 dies down, ACRL staff are beginning to prepare for the ACRL 2019 conference. Themed Recasting the Narrative, ACRL 2019 is scheduled to take place April 10 – 13, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. Additional information regarding ACRL 2017 and future conferences is available at

ACRL is the higher education association for librarians. Representing nearly 11,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL (the largest division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship. ACRL is on the web at, Facebook at and Twitter at @ala_acrl.

ACRL 2017 (Baltimore, Maryland)
At the Helm: Leading Transformation
Registrants (Face-to-face - full and daily): 3,499
Registrants (Virtual Conference): 246 (calculated w/group participation)
Guests/Staff/Others: 325
Exhibitors: 1,183
Total: 5,253

ACRL 2015 (Portland, Oregon)
Creating Sustainable Community
Registrants (Face-to-face - full and daily): 3,390
Registrants (Virtual Conference): 344 (calculated w/group participation)
Guests/Staff/Others: 245
Exhibitors: 1,093
Total: 5,072

ACRL 2013 (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Imagine, Innovate, Inspire
Registrants (Face-to-face - full and daily): 2,984
Registrants (Virtual Conference): 561 (calculated w/group participation)
Guests/Staff/Others: 176
Exhibitors: 1,103
Total: 4,824