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Recap of the 2024 ALA Conference and Exhibition in San Diego

Recap of the 2024 ALA Conference and Exhibition in San Diego

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The American Library Association (ALA) hosted its 2024 Annual Conference & Exhibition on June 27-July 2 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, CA. Thousands of librarians and library staff, authors, publishers, educators, exhibitors and more came together for the largest library event in the world.

I was so honored to attend this event as a member of the media! It was my first-ever big-time book event and it did not disappoint. Previously, I had worked for 10 years as a trade journalist covering a global manufacturing industry and as a result, I’ve been to many trade shows and conferences. And the ALA Conference and Exhibition is one of the best I’ve ever attended.

The ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition explored issues impacting libraries and their communities, with a packed five-day agenda that included more than 175 educational programs created and curated by library professionals. More than 500 speakers and authors were present, in addition to nearly 550+ exhibitors. The programs covered a diverse range of urgent topics facing libraries, such as artificial intelligence, health and wellness, intellectual freedom, strategic partnerships and justice-involved services.

From all the educational offerings during the conference sessions to the dynamic and engaging exhibit floor (called The Library Marketplace), this event is must-attend.

Nothing beats an in-person, big-time event where you can learn so much, see old friends and make new connections, meet authors and hear about their writing processes, and see the latest trends impacting libraries up close.

Let’s take a closer look at the 2024 ALA Event in San Diego!

The Library Marketplace

I’m based in Carlsbad so it was an easy drive to downtown San Diego. I arrived Friday afternoon just ahead of the opening of The Library Marketplace. But first, I attended the welcome reception hosted by publishers Candlewick Press, Holiday House, PeachTree and Pixel+Ink. This event was held to honor their award-winning authors and illustrators. Each are producing fantastic titles for young readers and I so appreciate the introduction to this group of publishers.

After that, I quickly made my way to the opening of The Library Marketplace and it was so exciting! There was a buzz in the air as we all eagerly made our way to the show floor to the exhibitors. I was immediately greeted with gorgeous book displays from publishers such as HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Macmillan Publishers and more.

One of the absolute highlights of The Library Marketplace were all the author signings! It was so exciting and fun to meet these authors.

During my time at the show, I was able to meet Lynda Cohen Loigman, author of The Love Elixir of Augusta Stern, which publishes in October; Liza Palmer, author of Family Reservations, which is out now; Janie Kim, author of We Carry the Sea in Our Hands, which publishes July 9; Jayne Allen, author of The Most Wonderful Time, which publishes in October; Christina Dodd, author of A Daughter of Fair Verona, which is out now; Sheila Yasmin Marikar, author of Friends in Napa, which is out now, and No One Gets to Fall Apart by Sarah LaBrie, which publishes in October.

From L-R: Lynda Cohen Loigman; Liza Palmer and Jayne Allen. So wonderful to meet them!

And there were so many other authors there too!

Rally for the Right to Read

On Friday night, the ALA hosted the second-annual Rally for the Right to Read for conference attendees, which honored those who defend and advocate for the freedom to read. The event highlighted anti-censorship activities from around the nation and celebrated the 2024 recipients of ALA’s signature intellectual freedom awards. It was such an inspiring event.

Award winners include:

The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association were awarded the 2024 Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Relations Award by the IFRT Coalition Building Committee. The committee was impressed by the PSLA Intellectual Freedom Task Group’s (IFTG) multifaceted contribution to intellectual freedom and critical support of library staff facing intimidation and pressure related to anti-censorship efforts.

The 2024 John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award, which honors notable contributions to intellectual freedom and demonstrations of personal courage in defense of freedom of expression, was awarded to Matthew Good, an instructional technology librarian from Pennsylvania. Faced with a difficult decision regarding the implementation of a policy that restricted access to books in the junior high library at the start of the 2022–23 school year, Good resigned his position to bring the issue to light. Good continues to speak out for intellectual freedom and access to books and school libraries.

Hannah Natanson, a reporter covering national K–12 education at The Washington Post, was the recipient of the 2024 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award for her series of articles “The School Book Wars,” published in 2023. The Oboler Award committee is honoring Natanson’s work for engaging readers, library workers, and the public, as well as bringing national attention to censorship challenges in schools.

In addition, nationally renowned writer, cultural critic and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Hanif Abdurraqib delivered the keynote address. Abdurraqib is an award-winning poet, essayist and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio, and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Genius grant.

“I hope that we all continue to be eager, and curious, and hungry, and want to not just tell stories, but hear the stories of those who are constantly under siege and being told that they do not deserve to move through a world that is built for them to survive in,” he said.

The event was incredible. It really put the spotlight on the battle librarians and the greater book community faces. Visit Unite Against Book Bans to learn more about the issues, and find toolkits, resources and more.

Speaker Sessions

There are a ton of educational programs during the conference sessions aimed at the greater librarian community. There were celebrity speakers such as Trevor Noah, Taraji P. Henson, Max Greenfield and Ali Velshi who all shared how much libraries mean to them and how they were essential in their growth and development.

There’s also sessions held by publishers to give librarians a preview of upcoming new titles.

I attended a session from the library team with HarperCollins, and it was such a great time and they did a wonderful job! Some notable new releases includes Paula Hawkins’ The Blue Hour; Killer Potential by Hannah Deitch; Famous Last Words by Gillian McAllister; The Griffin Sisters’ Greatest Hits by Jennifer Weiner; Hate Follow by Erin Quinn-Kong and much more! If you’re a librarian and are interested in their titles, be sure to visit their site dedicated to libraries here.

It was also so fun to attend the session from Macmillan Library Marketing and learn more about some buzzy new releases. Some notable ones include The Love Elixir of Augusta Stern by Lynda Cohen Loigman; Catch and Keep by Erin Hahn; Private Rites by Julia Armfield and more. For librarians, check out their Edelweiss catalog here.

Another highlight were the author panels. I listened to authors such as Lynda, Jayne, Ann Rose (The Seemingly Impossible Life of Amanda Dean) talk about their inspirations behind their books and why love stories are so important, especially now.

My huge book stack from ALA event! Thank you to publishers, authors, and the ALA.


What an event! I had the best time attending and was so honored to meet librarians, authors, publishers, fellow bookstagram friends, ALA staff and more. There were such good vibes and to have so many people who are dedicated to books gathered at one place, was truly incredible.

The library has always held a special place for me and I’m grateful to librarians for all the work they do. We need libraries and we need librarians. Thank you for everything.

I highly encourage you all to check out the ALA Conference in 2025, which will be held in Philadelphia!