6,000 attend first in-person PLA national conference since pandemic
For Immediate Release
Public Library Association
American Library Association
CHICAGO – The Public Library Association national conference ended Friday, March 25, 2022, after more than 6,000 library professionals and gathered together in person and virtually to attend sessions on shaping the future of public library service in a post-pandemic world.
With more than 100 programs, the conference highlighted and shared innovative and responsive best practices for public library programs and services that address evolving community needs—ranging from managing censorship attempts to enabling access to telehealth, entrepreneurship, and other vital resources for diverse communities.
"The energy of the conference was incredible," said PLA President Melanie Huggins." PLA thanks all the presenters who shared their time and expertise, and all the participants that connected and learned with us in person and online."
The event provided an economic boost to Portland's economy, as attendees picked up more than 8,760 total guestroom nights and took advantage of local businesses, restaurants, and bars. According to Travel Portland, the event provided substantial revenue to Portland businesses, with an economic impact of an estimated $4.4 million in revenue.
PLA 2022 officially opened with New York Times best-selling author, podcast host, and professional troublemaker Luvvie Ajayi Jones, by challenging attendees to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. "I have had a lifetime of pushing past my fear," Jones said. "I think we make choices to be courageous. Courage is a habit that we build." Her latest book, “Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual,” was released on March 2, 2021.
The conference brought back its popular career center, which offered attendees one-on-one appointments for résumé review, interview coaching, and mentoring. It also hosted a career fair for job seekers and hiring libraries. A collaboration between PLA and My People’s Market offered attendees the unique opportunity to shop locally within the exhibits hall and support Portland business owners of color.
Discussions on social workers in libraries were front and center. Often, the public library is the first point of contact in helping people connected with needed services –including accurate health information, housing, jobs, and food assistance. A preconference session entitled “Social Work Best Practices for Supporting Patrons” shared content and resources from a new ALA/PLA publication, “A Trauma-Informed Framework for Supporting Patrons – The PLA Workbook of Best Practices.” The program engaged library staff in how they can bring a trauma-informed lens to all facets of customer service, while facilitating equity and supporting patrons with life challenges in the library.
Staff from 13 libraries participating in the Libraries Build Business program met in person for the first time at PLA 2022. They shared tips and resources for serving diverse entrepreneurs, including individuals re-entering the workforce from jail or prison, primarily Spanish-speaking sidewalk vendors, rural entrepreneurs, tribal members, and minority-owned tech startups. Together these libraries reached and impacted 14,000 people with business development resources over the past 18 months.
The conference's Big Idea sessions were a big hit! Led by author and lawyer Brittany K. Barnett and Jeopardy! Champion Amy Schneider, the sessions attracted hundreds to talks that focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion. Additional authors and audiobook narrators included Clothilde Ewing, Willy Vlautin, Brian Selznick, Jordan Ifueko, Sonia Manzano, and Alex Gino.
Closing speaker Kal Penn certainly brought the expected humor to a packed house on March 25. The actor, writer, producer, and former associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement also brought sincere appreciation for the library community, its early impact in his life as a reader, and its support for his memoir “You Can't Be Serious” (Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books).
Offered biennially, the PLA Conference is the premier event for public libraries, drawing thousands of librarians, library support staff, trustees, friends, and library vendors worldwide.
The next national conference, PLA 2024, will take place in Columbus, Ohio. For more details on the conference, to view the daily recap videos, or read the PLA Daily News, visit www.placonference.org. Find conference merchandise and more PLA publications and products in the ALA Store.
About the PLA
The Public Library Association (http://www.ala.org/pla) is the largest association to support public library professionals' unique and evolving needs. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 9,000 members in public libraries, large and small, in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence worldwide. PLA offers professional development opportunities, unique public library initiatives, and a conference that welcomes public library staff into meaningful partnerships. In collaboration with its parent organization, the American Library Association, PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders.