For immediate release | July 6, 2021

ALA welcomes more than 9,000 to virtual gathering

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) hosted the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition – Virtual, June 23-29, 2021, attracting 9,142 attendees and 306 exhibitors.

Designed to educate, entertain, and inspire librarians and library workers, the conference featured more than 200 educational live and on demand sessions, live chat opportunities with authors and speakers, 28 featured speaker sessions, more than 175 publisher and exhibitor sessions on new book titles, 140+ author sessions, a virtual exhibit floor with more than 300 participating exhibitors, Swag-a-Palooza with hundreds of free items for attendees, and more.

Day one of the conference focused on The Library Marketplace: Exhibits, Stages & Resources with more than 300 exhibitors, Meet the Authors, Book Buzz sessions, Book Buzz Bites, Library Champion Spotlight sessions, Swag-a-Palooza, and eight Presentation Stages. The Marketplace program kicked off with Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman and her “Change Sings” book illustrator Loren Long, in conversation with Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden. Eleven new and established authors discussed their new books, writing processes, and their love for libraries, including Danny Trejo, Gabrielle Union, Dylan Dreyer, Jayne Allen, Kaia Alderson, Candacy Taylor, David Atherton and illustrator Rachel Stubbs, Yvon Roy, Joseph Bruchac, Vashti Harrison, and Pilar Winter Hill (see full list). Networking sessions included author- and publisher-led morning Coffee Talks and end of day Happy Hours. Attendees could also visit more than 95 digital Poster Sessions.

Keynote speakers included President Barack Obama in conversation with Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute Lonnie Bunch, III, who discussed Obama’s book, “A Promised Land” (available now) and Obama’s appreciation for libraries. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and creator of the “1619 Project”, Nikole Hannah-Jones offered a look inside the project and discussed her two new books, “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story,” and “Born on the Water,” both available Fall 2021.

President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr.’s President’s Program featured speaker, journalist, and author Isabel Wilkerson. Wilkerson, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize, is the author of “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” which explores the structure of an unspoken system of human ranking and reveals how our lives are still restricted by what divided us centuries ago.

Other featured speakers included Stanley Tucci, author of “Taste: My Life Through Food,” Billie Jean King, author of “All In: An Autobiography,” Trisha Yearwood, author of “Trisha’s Kitchen: Easy Comfort Food for Friends and Family,” David Copperfield, author of “David Copperfield's History of Magic,” Melissa de la Cruz, author of “Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy,” Eve L. Ewing, author of “Maya and the Robot,” Areli Morales, author of “Areli is a Dreamer,” Savala Nolan, author of “Don’t Let It Get You Down: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Body,” Charles Person, author of “Buses Are a Comin’: Memoir of a Freedom Rider,” Dr. Leana Wen, author of “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in Public Health,” and Judy Tyrus and Paul Novosel, authors of “Dance Theatre of Harlem: A History, A Celebration, A Movement.”

Other highlights included a conversation with 2020-2021 ALA President Julius C. Jefferson and IMLS Director Crosby Kemper, III and a conversation with 2021-2022 ALA President Patricia “Patty” Wong and Chicago Public Library Commissioner Chris Brown.

Favorite education sessions, as indicated by attendee preferences, included Intellectual Freedom Is Meaningless Without Social Justice; Take Up the Challenge: An Actionable and Accountable Racial Justice Program; What’s in a name?: LGBTQ+ and Latinx perspectives on access terminology--challenges and solutions; Why Psychological Safety Matters More Now Than Ever; and Libraries are for Everyone: In-Person and Virtual Programming for Adults with Disabilities.

See the American Libraries’ “look back” for more sessions and activities.

Conference registrants will have access to the full conference content for one year, offering attendees an opportunity to view sessions again, view those missed during the live event, or use content for training or research purposes.

Event sponsors included EBSCO, Infobase, bibliotheca, China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Co., Ltd., Gale, a Cengage company, Modern Language Association, OCLC, OverDrive, Iowa School of Library and Information Science, Be Internet Awesome-Google, Iron Mountain, LibLime, MK Solutions, Mango Languages, OECDiLibrary, Reading Plus, Sage Publishing, Springer Nature,, Virco, and VizMedia.

Now that the conference is complete, the recordings can be purchased at

For additional event information please visit, hashtag #alaac21, and social media: Instagram, ALA Twitter, and ALA Facebook.

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Donna Hunter

Marketing Specialist

American Library Association

Conference Services