Librarians and authors highlight their most highly anticipated panels and programs during ALA Annual in San Diego.

The library and literary world will descend on San Diego at the end of the month for ALA Annual. Regardless of the still-unknown status of the LibLearnX and Youth Media Awards announcements, Annual remains the event where these awards are celebrated, issues and upcoming books are discussed, and librarians share ideas, interests, and sources of concern.

Kwame Alexander
Photo by Portia Wiggins Photography

S.L.J asked those present what they were looking forward to.

Amanda Chacon, School Librarian of the Year 2024
What I’m most looking forward to at the 2024 ALA Annual Conference is meeting like-minded librarians from across the country in an engaging, dynamic environment in a city I’ve always wanted to visit. Librarians are necessarily a close-knit, supportive group, and I welcome this opportunity to further strengthen my associations, make new friends, and learn from the best across the country. I am particularly interested in sessions that focus on building and strengthening community partnerships; utilizing artificial intelligence as an innovative tool in our toolbox; and of course see and hear Kwame Alexander!

Carole Boston Weatherford author
I can’t wait to experience the conference with my son and sometime collaborator, Jeffery Boston Weatherford. Together we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Award Roundtable. And we’ll be up bright and early for the Coretta Scott King Awards breakfast, where I’ll accept one author award for our verse novel/family history, Related: Rooted in Hopeand another for How do you write dishonestly? MacNolia Cox and the National Spelling Beea picture book illustrated by Frank Morrison.

Christopher Paul Curtis
Photo by DSHPhotography

Betsy Vogel, “A Fuse #8 Production” blogger, author and collection development manager for the Evanston (IL) Public Library
There are just a slew of programs I have my eye on this year, ranging from “Yalla, Habibi: Where Are the Arab-American Voices in Children’s Literature?” to “Soft Censorship of LGBTQIA+ Content and Its Chilling Effect on the Children’s Book Industry” and “Welcome Asylum Seekers, We Speak Your Language! QPL’s response to the unprecedented humanitarian crisis.” These are the topics and issues that librarians are really looking for right now.

I’m a collections librarian first and foremost, so I’m especially curious about “Beyond the Audit: Embracing the Freedom to Read through Curation and Promotion of Inclusive Collections,” especially since I see Dontaná McPherson-Joseph from Oak Park, Illinois on the agenda is. panel. And who could resist seeing Christopher Paul Curtis speak in the “Illuminating the Legacy of Illustrious African American Librarians” discussion? Not me. And that doesn’t even take into account the signings of the authors and illustrators! It’s going to be a busy weekend.

Rachell Abalos, library media assistant, Bandini Elementary School, Commerce, CA
I am most looking forward to the panel I will participate in. Philippine representation in publishing is currently increasing. I will also be there as a representative of Barefoot Books and will be signing at their stand. I can’t wait to meet other authors and librarians. This is my first ALA Annual and I am very excited to see the show floor.

Ben Clanton

For me, as an elementary school librarian, I want to go to “Get on Board!”, a panel on board books to promote literacy. My library could certainly benefit from that discussion. I also want to go to the panel “Use picture book biographies in libraries to develop empathy and promote well-being.” That’s an intriguing discussion.

(And) I want to meet Ben Clanton. His books “Narwhal and Jelly” are super popular in my library. If I get my hands on his latest book, my students will love me!

Kathleen Breitenbach, teen librarian, Hamilton Township (NJ) Public Library, American Library Association Council Member 2023-2026
I look forward to (again) presenting and sharing my insights on creating safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ youth, and making our spaces
and services inclusive and accessible to neurodiverse customers and staff. I’m also happy to see my library friends. ALA Annual is like summer camp for a librarian!

Travis Jonker “100 Scope Notes” blogger, author and elementary school librarian
I look forward to seeing summer and fall books in person in the exhibit hall. You can look at a small cover image online, but it’s nothing compared to holding the finished book in your hands. I’m also looking forward to the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet, which is always such a cool experience. Oh, and interviewing authors and illustrators for upcoming episodes of The yarn podcast!