ALA President to launch virtual tour of U.S. libraries
CHICAGO – On Monday, July 27, American Library Association (ALA) President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., will kick off a 12-stop virtual tour to spotlight how libraries of all kinds across the country are addressing the needs of their diverse communities and engaging stakeholders to advocate for libraries. The 10-day Holding Space tour will begin at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and end at the Hawaii State Library on Friday, August 7.
“When I was elected ALA President-Elect in 2019, I knew I wanted to shine a light on programs and communities that don’t get the attention they deserve,” said Jefferson. “One year later, as I begin my term as ALA President, libraries are more essential than ever, and yet library workers and library services are more vulnerable.”
At each stop on the tour, Jefferson will meet with library leaders, state and local partners, elected officials and other community influencers to cover a vast terrain of issues facing a broad range of institutions, including libraries at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, other academic libraries, school libraries, Tribal libraries and public libraries.
“Collectively, these conversations are an opportunity for ALA to listen and learn as well elevate the innovative work of the 12 libraries I visit,” said Jefferson. “Originally, I’d envisioned a bus tour, a sort of library celebration on wheels. But this virtual format allows us to critically examine our cultural moment through the lens of the most pressing issues in our profession.”
Each community discussion will explore local and national solutions to local and national issues and feature deep dives into an area of library service, including workforce development programs, children and family services, outreach to rural residents, and broadband for Tribal communities. Jefferson will also invite tour participants to join ALA’s campaign urging members of Congress to support the Library Stabilization Fund Act to protect the jobs of more than 366,000 library workers and the services that 116,000 libraries provide.
“Libraries are improving lives every day, providing internet access to underserved communities, helping people find jobs and build careers, empowering students as they develop literacy skills that will lead to lifelong learning,” said Jefferson. “Many of these successes take place in the shadows. Their stories need to be told, their professional organization and local community need to listen, and their elected leaders need to support them.”
Holding Space tour stops include:
- July 27: Tour kickoff at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Holding Space: A National Conversation Series with Libraries
- July 27: Cambria County Library, Penn. Stronger Together for Workforce Development
- July 28: Muskingum County Library, Ohio Keeping Communities Connected in Ohio and Beyond
- July 29: Nashville Public Library, Tenn. Leveraging Place to Engage Community
- July 30: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Ark. Strengthening Communities and Developing Leaders at HBCU Libraries
- July 31: Lubbock ISD, Texas Learning in Many Dimensions with Texas School Librarians
- August 3: Pioneer Public Library, Okla. Partnering to Advance Career and Workforce Development
- August 4: Santo Domingo Pueblo Library, N.M. The Imperative of Broadband for Tribal Libraries
- August 5: Cordes Lake Public Library, Ariz. From Interior to Border: Libraries Reaching Rural Communities
- August 6: Nevada State Library, Nev. Learn and Earn: Nevada Libraries Harness Virtual 3-D for Education and Careers
- August 7: Oakland Public Library, Calif. Listen to the Kids: Youth- and Family-Centered Practices at Oakland Public Library
- August 7: Closing celebration in Hawaii Spirit of Aloha: Hawaii Libraries Light the Path
Every event along the tour will be broadcast via Zoom and archived on YouTube so everyone in the library community can participate in the conversation. For more information on tour stops and directions for joining the conversation, visit