Symposium on the Future of Libraries - Schedule

The Symposium on the Future of Libraries explores the near-term trends already inspiring innovation in libraries and the longer-term trends that will help us adapt to the needs of our communities. 

The tentative schedule below helps you plan for your participation. Additional sessions will be added as they are scheduled. 

Saturday January 26th

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Libraries Transform - Social Innovation
Sarah Studer, Managing Director, Impact Hub Seattle 
Join Seattle-based social innovators for the morning's plenary session exploring what’s next for communities.

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Bridging the Digital and Physical: Increasing Engagement with Unique Collections Through Digital Tools
Alix Norton, Archivist, Center for Archival Research and Training (CART), UC Santa Cruz; Ann Hubble, Digital Initiatives Librarian, UC Santa Cruz; Kristy Golubiewski-Davis, Digital Humanities Librarian, UC Santa Cruz 
At UC Santa Cruz, we’re creating and supporting digital projects which aid student scholarship, enhance on-site exhibit experiences, engage broader communities through online exhibitions, and promote our unique collections. This session will explore how interactive digital tools enhance physical exhibits of unique collections, like the Grateful Dead Archive, to create immersive virtual experiences for viewers. Session attendees will learn how they can use digital tools to promote their library’s unique collections, engage students in creating new forms of scholarly work, preserve a record of physical exhibits after deinstallation, and increase use of collections and resources.

Breaking Down the Barriers to Advocacy for School Libraries
Deborah Rinio, Adjunct Instructor, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Ann Ewbank, Director, School Library Media Certificate, Montana State University; Jenna Nemec-Loise, Head Librarian, North Shore Country Day School
Join ALA Policy Corps members for a conversation surrounding political advocacy for school librarians. In this session, you will hear directly from decision makers at various levels to learn their perspectives on advocacy and what makes a good advocate. You will also learn how to connect with your local, state, and national legislators; communicate effectively; and break down the barriers standing in the way of your advocacy efforts. 

Racial Equity: Libraries Organizing to Transform Institutions
Amita Lonial, Learning, Marketing and Engagement Principal Librarian, San Diego County Library; Sarah Lawton, Neighborhood Library Supervisor, Madison Public Library
Libraries across the country are working to identify and address institutional racism and structural inequities. Released in 2018, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity’s issue paper “Advancing Racial Equity in Libraries: Case Studies from the Field” provides an overview of successful strategies and a framework designed to drive change from the local level. Join colleagues from GARE and from the Public Library Association’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to learn more about the work that is being done and to discuss the opportunities and challenges that libraries and communities face as we transform our institutions.          

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Algorithms, Implicit Bias, and Search Literacy: Exploring Beliefs among Computer Science Students about Search Engine and Machine Learning Models
Shalini Ramachandran, Science Librarian, University of Southern California; Steven Cutchin, Associate Professor of Computer Science, Boise State University; Sheree Fu, ECST Librarian, California State University, Los Angeles; Karen Howell, Head, Leavey Library, University of Southern California
What role do library professionals have in raising awareness about algorithm design and human bias? In this presentation, we share insights from a survey of computer science students – the future  architects of algorithms and AI systems that shape our information infrastructure – about their perceptions of the biases in search engines and big-data algorithms. All librarians can benefit from our presentation as it will help them understand the significance of developing ethically informed search literacy. In our discussion, we underscore that library and information professionals have a role in partnering with information scientists to ensure that libraries can be spaces where users can optimize their search for information and expect fair treatment from automated systems.

Building a Future-Ready Workforce: How Public Libraries Can Create Resilient and Entrepreneurial Communities
Audrey Barbakoff, Community Engagement and Economic Development Manager, King County Library System; Jay Lyman, Librarian, The Seattle Public Library
Learn about key trends shaping the future of work and how public libraries can play an important role in creating communities that are prepared for change. Structural shifts in our workforce such as automation and AI, the sharing and gig economy, systemic income and educational inequity, and entrepreneurship and design thinking will impact workers and businesses in your community. By the end of this session, you will: understand some key workforce shifts impacting your patrons; be able to connect those broader trends to impactful library partnerships and services; and have begun formulating a plan to develop services responses for your own library.

Checking Out YouTube: Using Online Video as a Library Outreach Tool
Peter Musser, Host of Stacks & Facts;Colleen Thiesen, Chief Curator, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University
It all starts with a question: how can libraries turn YouTube from a patron’s final destination into a stepping stone to the stacks? Whether it’s young adults trying to learn new skills, parents looking for something to entertain their kids with, or pundits questioning whether libraries even matter -- all of these situations would benefit from a librarian’s expertise. Unfortunately, people might go to YouTube instead (for better or worse), and lose out on everything their library has to offer them. Libraries don’t have to be in competition with YouTube to serve their patrons, though! This presentation will discuss the online video platform and its potential role in supporting libraries’ missions to support their communities, both as a tool for outreach and for information-seeking. 

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Return to the Real: The Library as Social Connector
Betha Gutsche, WebJunction Programs Manager, OCLC; Jennifer Peterson, WebJunction Community Manager, OCLC
Studies show an increase in loneliness and depression because of too much time spent online. Communities experience steady erosion of the bonds formed when people share real-time activities together, which affects our health and well-being. As a magnet for social connection, libraries offer that sense of community and shared place that humans as social animals crave. Active learning programs that offer participatory activities to enhance individual learning can go further to cement social connection when people are learning and doing together. This session will explore library programs through the lens of social possibilities, with the goal of strengthening community bonds. 

3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Leadership for the Future of Libraries
Harry Bruce (Moderator), Dean Emeritus and Professor, The Information School, University of Washington; Brian Bannon, Commissioner, Chicago Public Library; Rolf Hapel, Past Director, Citizens’ Services and Libraries, Aarhus Denmark, and Professor of Practice, The Information School, University of Washington; Susan Hildreth, Interim Director, Sonoma County Library, and Past Professor of Practice, The Information School, University of Washington; Lisa Rosenblum, Director, King County Library System 
It is inevitable that the future will have an impact on public libraries and librarianship. But, we must also ensure that it is equally the case that public libraries will have an impact on the future - upon the enrichment of communities, creativity, learning, innovation, social justice, positive social change, and more. The answer to the question - what is the future for libraries? - belongs to librarians and the communities they serve. Identifying a robust and relevant future for our public libraries and "making" that future happen, is in part, a function of effective leadership. Participants attending this session will learn what leadership for the future of libraries means to five distinguished public library leaders. Participants will leave the session with the determination and confidence to actively participate in "making" an exhilarating future for their public library. 

Sunday January 27th

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Libraries Transform - Civic Innovation
Lesley Bain, Principal, FRAMEWORK  
Join Seattle-based civic innovators for the morning's plenary session exploring what’s next for cities.

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Community, Equity, and Storytimes
CiKeithia Pugh, Early Learning Program Manager, The Seattle Public Library; Betha Gutsche, WebJunction Programs Manager, OCLC
Leading for equity means examining our library practices and policies with an equity lens. This shift in practice moves away from viewing our services as merely transactional and instead builds them in partnership with community. This interactive session will highlight The Seattle Public Library’s work to prioritize community voices and equitable partnerships to create relevant, responsive youth services programming. We'll also explore how Supercharged Storytimes is applying an equity lens to a training program that builds the skills and knowledge of storytime providers across the country as they nurture early literacy skills in the readers of the future. 

The Role of Libraries in Addressing Homelessness and Poverty 
Julie Ann Winkelstein, Researcher, Author, Teacher, Activist; Tina Reid, Library Assistant II, Felix G. Woodward Library, Austin Peay State University
Across the United States, public libraries in particular are considering their responsibilities in serving well their community members who are experiencing homelessness and poverty. The role of libraries in addressing societal challenges like these is one that hasn’t received much specific attention in library schools and this fact has left many who are addressing these challenges on a daily basis without the necessary vocabulary, background and tools. Using a new library school class as an example, this interactive session will offer examples of exercises, readings, videos and conversations that can help libraries move forward, dream big and take action.

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Machine Learning: How Does It Work?!
Andromeda Yelton, Web Applications Developer, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and Past President, LITA
You've probably heard of machine learning, but how does it work, and what does that mean for libraries? In this talk I'll make you laugh - and then think - as we walk through real-world examples. You'll get a high-level overview of how neural nets work and you'll get to explore Hamlet, a prototype library discovery interface based in neural nets. You'll also see why machine learning might NOT be the right tool for your job, due to its limitations, biases, and social risks.

Designing Future Library Leaders: Incorporating Design Thinking, Methods and Principles into Master’s Level Library Education
Rachel Ivy Clarke, Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University
Design thinking is a creative problem-solving approach that uses mindsets and principles like building empathetic understanding to identify problems; ideating and prototyping to develop solutions; and iterating solutions through implementation and modification. Libraries of all types are increasingly using these methods to improve library spaces and services and support increased community engagement. But how does one learn to be a “design thinker”? Design thinking is not traditionally included in MLIS programs. This panel of library educators will discuss how they are incorporating design thinking in their courses and curricula to foster the creative problem-solving mindset called for in future librarians.

Monday January 28th 

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Libraries Transform - Education Innovation
Betheny Gross, Senior Research Analyst, Research Director, Center on Reinventing Public Education  
Join Seattle-based education innovators for the morning's plenary session exploring what’s next for elementary and higher education.

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Intentionally Intersectional: Feminist Programming in a Public Library
Rebecca Stanwick, Adult Services Librarian and Head of the Steinem Sisters Collection, Toledo Lucas County Public Library
How can librarians be ‘intentionally intersectional’ in the way we program? Intentional intersectionality encourages a purposeful way of looking at systems to make more visible, and give voice to, the stories and voices of our most at-risk and marginalized community members, especially women. In library programming, intentionally intersectional programs are purposefully designed to transform culture so that people are treated equally and with the respect owed to all humanity. Together, we will critically self-reflect on the biases we bring to creating programs and work to dismantle these biases in order to form a meaningful and intentionally intersectional way of thinking about library programming.