For immediate release | June 2, 2021

Former President of the United States Barack Obama will headline ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition (Virtual) Closing Session

CHICAGO — Former President of the United States Barack Obama will close the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition (Virtual) Closing Session. He will appear noon – 1 p.m. CT, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in conversation with Lonnie G. Bunch III, the 14th secretary of the Smithsonian and first African American appointed to the role. They will be introduced by Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., president of the American Library Association.

Obama will discuss A Promised Land, the stirring first volume of his presidential memoirs that was released in November 2020 by Crown, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. In it, Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Few presidents have walked a more improbable path to the White House. Born in Hawaii to a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya, Barack Obama was raised with help from his grandparents, whose generosity of spirit reflected their Midwestern roots.

After working his way through college with the help of scholarships and student loans, Obama moved to Chicago, where he worked with a group of churches to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants. That experience honed his belief in the power of uniting ordinary people around a politics of purpose and in the hard work of citizenship to bring about positive change. In law school, he became the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. He then returned to Illinois to teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago and begin a career in public service, winning seats in the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate.

On Nov. 4, 2008, Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States, winning more votes than any candidate in history. He took office at a moment of crisis unlike any America had seen in decades – a nation at war, a planet in peril, the American Dream itself threatened by the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression. And yet, despite all manner of political obstruction, Obama’s leadership helped rescue the economy, revitalize the American auto industry, reform the health care system to cover another 20 million Americans, and put the country on a firm course to a clean energy future – all while overseeing the longest stretch of job creation in American history. On the world stage, Obama’s belief in America’s indispensable leadership and strong, principled diplomacy helped wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, decimate al-Qaeda and eliminate the world’s most wanted terrorists, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, open a new chapter with the people of Cuba, and unite humanity in coordinated action to combat a changing climate.

In times of great challenge and change, President Obama’s leadership ushered in a stronger economy, a more equal society, a nation more secure at home and more respected around the world. The Obama years were ones in which more people not only began to see themselves in the changing face of America, but to see America the way he always has – as the only place on Earth where so many of our stories could even be possible.

Obama and his wife, Former First Lady Michelle Obama, are the proud parents of two daughters, Malia and Sasha.

As secretary of the Smithsonian, Bunch oversees 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and several education units and centers. Bunch was the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. He is the first historian appointed to the role.

Registration for the conference is open. Media interested in registering for the session may contact Macey Morales, deputy director, ALA Communications and Marketing Office at

ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition attendees will have access to more than 200 educational sessions in the areas of Library Services, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Leadership, Teaching & Learning, Technology, Library Workplace, and more. Additionally, many of the News You Can Use series; interactive Discussion Groups; and President and Chair Programs provide an excellent opportunity for attendees to share thoughts amongst their peers.

The conference launches on Wednesday, June 23 with a full day dedicated to The Library Marketplace, showcasing as many as 300 exhibitors offering innovative resources for libraries; 11 presentation stages that will highlight notable and genre-specific keynotes; publisher-led spotlight sessions on new book titles; networking opportunities, giveaways, and more.

Get updates from the 2021 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition (Virtual) website and follow the hashtag #alaac21 and social media: Instagram, ALA Twitter, and ALA Facebook.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit

About Penguin Random House

Crown is an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, is dedicated to its mission of nourishing a universal passion for reading by connecting authors and their writing with readers everywhere. The company, which employs 10,000 people globally, was formed on July 1, 2013, by Bertelsmann and Pearson. As of April 1, 2020, Bertelsmann is full owner of the company. With more than 300 imprints and brands on six continents, Penguin Random House comprises adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital English- and Spanish-language trade book publishing businesses in more than 20 countries worldwide. With 15,000 new titles, and 600 million print, audio and eBooks sold annually, Penguin Random House’s publishing lists include more than 80 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.



Macey Morales

Deputy Director

American Library Association

Communications and Marketing Office

(312) 280-4393