Columbus, Ohio, hosts national showcase for public library innovation

For Immediate Release
Wed, 03/13/2024

Contact:

Eliana Kleiman

Communications Associate

Public Library Association

312-280-5018

ekleiman@ala.org

Conference to bring more than 6,200 library leaders for programs ranging from artificial intelligence to addressing learning loss to boosting accessibility for all

CHICAGO — Our nation's public libraries serve over 1.2 billion visitors annually, striving to provide programs and services as diverse as their communities. Columbus, Ohio, will serve as the epicenter of national conversations on the changing roles of U.S. public libraries from April 3-5. More than 6,200 library professionals will examine and share innovative and responsive solutions that address the evolving needs of patrons during the Public Library Association’s (PLA) biennial national conference at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Continuously adapting to provide essential resources, libraries foster educational, economic, and cultural opportunities—inviting all to explore ideas and diverse perspectives while staunchly defending the freedom to read. As the U.S. surgeon general warns of an epidemic of loneliness, libraries persist as beacons of hope, enriching lives and nurturing connections that fortify communities through the power of literacy and lifelong learning.

“Public libraries support and uplift library users, which facilitates transformation at the individual and community levels,” said PLA President Sonia Alcántara-Antoine. “PLA 2024 offers the inspiration and upskilling necessary for today’s library workforce. From the digital divide to pandemic learning loss to a lack of affordable housing and food insecurity, public libraries are partnering to address essential needs in our communities.”

For instance, Ohio’s Akron-Summit County Library will share its pioneering approach to establishing comprehensive social service support through strategic local partnerships. Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) and Dementia Friendly Summit County will help libraries "Choose the Best Dementia Programs and Resources for Your Library.” Also, libraries from across Ohio will highlight “Public Libraries and Schools: Everything You Need to Know about the Science of Reading.”

“The PLA conference is the place where librarians share our best ideas and make them even better!” said Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO Patrick Losinski. “This is a collective effort across thousands of libraries nationwide to inspire reading, share resources, and connect people and communities.”

PLA 2024 stands as the most significant conference tailored to meet the needs of public library professionals. Library workers, supporters, and vendors will converge to showcase new products and resources, explore best practices in expanding services to diverse communities, safeguarding the freedom to read, crafting comprehensive teen services, and expanding literacy and workforce development opportunities.

“From ‘Activating AI Education’ to ‘Creating a Teen Artist-in-Residence Program’ to ‘Start Beekeeping at Your Library,’ PLA 2024 celebrates the myriad ways public libraries are meeting new needs in new ways,” added Alcántara-Antoine.

In addition to more than 100 educational sessions, attendees will enjoy dynamic and thought-provoking keynote speakers such as MIT researcher and Algorithmic Justice League founder Dr. Joy Buolamwini and comedian Dulcé Sloan. PLA’s Big Ideas stage will showcase thought leaders like journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates and climate change writer Mary Annaïse Heglar. More than 265 companies will fill the exhibit floor with the latest in publications, technology, equipment, and library supplies.

Additional information regarding PLA 2024 is available at placonference.org. Press members are encouraged to attend and interview local and national experts to explore how libraries are pioneering collaboration and innovation to shape tomorrow's services. Media interested in registering for press credentials may contact Eliana Kleiman, Communications Associate, Public Library Association, at 312-280-5018 or ekleiman@ala.org.

About the Public Library Association
Since its inception in 1944, the Public Library Association has been a steadfast beacon of support for public library professionals. With nearly 9,000 members spanning the US, Canada, and beyond, the PLA offers unparalleled professional development opportunities, spearheads groundbreaking initiatives, and curates transformative conference experiences. In partnership with the American Library Association, the PLA champions the indispensable role of public libraries, empowering leaders to sculpt the future of this vital institution.