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Audio version



January 20–24, 2017




Civic, Social, and Education Innovators Highlight Symposium on the Future of Libraries During Midwinter

Atech accelerator program for Black and Latina women founders of high-growth tech companies. A livable, inclusive, and sustainable neighborhood revitalization through creative place-making, local business development, and public-private partnerships. A living laboratory for imaging what is next for education, developing and testing new educational platforms and techniques.

The innovators behind these three initiatives – digitalundivided’s BIG Innovation Center and BIG Accelerator Program, we love buhi, and Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities – will be among the plenary speakers at the 2017 Symposium on the Future of Libraries, part of the 2017 ALA Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits in Atlanta.

As library professionals gather to contemplate our futures, we will hear from leaders in civic, social, and education innovation to consider the issues that they are tackling, the innovative practices they are leveraging, and the opportunities they see for the future. Attendees will have a chance to evaluate these leaders’ work in light of their values and the values that librarians seek to provide to its communities, campuses, and organizations.

Social Innovation will be the focus of Saturday morning’s plenary (January 21, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.) with speakers Darlene Gillard Jones and Isha Lee. Gillard Jones is Chief Community Officer for digitalundivided and their BIG Innovation Center and BIG Accelerator, the first and only space and tech accelerator program dedicated to the training and support of Black and Latina women founders of high-growth tech companies. Lee is Chief Network Officer for Welcoming America, a national network for nonprofits and local governments interested in developing plans, programs, and policies that embraces immigrants, foster opportunity for all, and transform communities into vibrant places where people respect each other. The Social Innovation plenary will be moderated by Spectrum Scholar Charlotte Roh, representing ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services.

Sunday morning (January 22, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.) will look into the future of cities, communities, and neighborhoods as we sit down to talk with Kyle Kessler and Marian Liou. Kessler is Community Program Manager for Atlanta’s Center for Civic Innovation, which helps find and test new solutions to local challenges, with tools ranging from open data to community dialogue. Liou is the founder of we love buhi, a community based organization that combines arts, business, design, and play to catalyze and support Atlanta’s Buford Highway corridor, a multiethnic community north of Atlanta. The Civic Innovation plenary will be moderated by PLA President Felton Thomas.

It’s back to school on Monday morning (January 23, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.) as we look at education innovation from K-12 through higher education with Dr. Stephen Harmon and Jeffrey Martín. Harmon is Director of Educational Innovation at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U), which tests educational techniques in actual classrooms to develop technology-driven solutions that result in optimal student outcomes and creative institutional change. Martín is Founder and CEO of honorcode, a non-profit social enterprise that provides curriculum and training to schools to bring more web-development into the K-12 classroom – and Jeffrey and honorcode just won Forbes’ Under 30 Summit Change The World Nonprofit Competition. The Education Innovation plenary will be co-moderated by AASL President Audrey Church and ACRL Past President Ann Campion Riley.

The Symposium on the Future of Libraries, organized and facilitated by the ALA Center for the Future of Libraries, is included with 2017 ALA Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits full registration. In addition to the three plenary sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in three days of sessions exploring the many futures for academic, public, school, and special libraries.

Acclaimed Comedian W. Kamau Bell to Open Midwinter

W. Kamau Bell
Opening Session
Friday 1/20, 4:00 – 5:15 p.m.

Described by the New York Times as “the most promising new talent in political comedy in many years,” acclaimed comedian and hit podcast host W. Kamau Bell will open the Midwinter Meeting & Exhibition on Friday, January 20 at 4:00 p.m. Bell, who describes himself as a “Socio-Political Comedian and Dad,” has been voted San Francisco’s best comedian by the SF Weekly, the SF Bay Guardian, and 7×7 Magazine, and praised by Punchline Magazine as “one of our nation’s most adept racial commentators with a blistering wit.”

“Bell’s gimmick is intersectional progressivism: he treats racial, gay, and women’s issues as inseparable,” according to The New Yorker. His many roles include hosting the docu-series “United Shades of America,” the public radio show “Kamau Right Now!” and co-hosting the podcasts: “Politically Re-Active” and “Denzel Washington is The Greatest Actor of All Time Period.” He performs his one-man show, “The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour” at colleges across the country, has appeared his writing has been published in, Salon,, Buzzfeed, and The Hollywood Reporter.

His memoir and manifesto, titled The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6’4”, African- American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Black, Proud, and Asthmatic Blerd, Mama’s Boy, B-Student, and Stand-up Comedian, will be released in June, 2017. The book will be a humorous, well-informed take on the world today, tackling issues such as race relations, fatherhood, the state of law enforcement, superheroes, politics, and many other issues.

Bell is the ACLU’s Ambassador of Racial Justice and serves on the advisory boards of Race Forward, a racial justice think tank, and Hollaback, a non-profit movement to end street harassment.

Bell’s appearance is sponsored by Penguin Random House. Get more information and add this to your schedule now.


Opening Session NEW! W. Kamau Bell

Friday, January 20
4:00 p.m.


Friday, January 20
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday, January 21 – 22
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Monday, January 23
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

ALA President’s Program

Sunday, January 22