Break on Through To the Other Side: Cultural Programming for New Librarians at ALA Annual

By Marissa Priddis

Kara Giles of the ALA Public Programs Office convened a panel of varied speakers to discuss the opportunities available for quality cultural programming in libraries across America.

The panelists, ranging from Tom Phelps of the National Endowment of the Humanities to accomplished poet E. Ethelbert Miller, discussed the importance of cultural programming, emphasizing that it is an important component to providing lifelong learning opportunities for all people. Presently, 86% of public and other libraries offer public programming. The panel spotlighted programs that have been successfully held at libraries in the past.

In the past 15 years, The ALA Public Programs Office has helped over 10,000 libraries with their programming efforts. Giles reviewed a number of past programs available through ALA, as well as some upcoming grant opportunities. More information on the ALA Public Programs Office can be found at:

Two librarians on the panel spoke of their experiences with hosting grant-funded programs and exhibits, giving examples of speakers that have led discussions in the past. Miller closed the session by leading a short “Let’s Talk About It” program, which included a reading of Langston Hughes’ poem “I, Too, Sing America.” He analyzed the poem and provided questions as a stepping-off point for discussion.