UWT In D.C.: Attending ALA Annual

Two women facing the camera and smiling. On the left is Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress.
Meeting the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden (left), in Washington, D.C.  

Hey, I wanted to share with our blog readers that I had an incredible opportunity, along with my colleagues, to attend the Annual ALA (American Library Association) conference, this past June in Washington, D.C.  Here are some of the highlights I thoroughly enjoyed and experienced.


The conference was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, which can hold about 45,000 people, from June 20-June 25.  I dare say there were about that many in attendance!

As a UW Tacoma staff member, I was able to attend after applying for a scholarship through the UW Tacoma Staff Association’s Professional Development-Strategic Initiative Fund.

Over the years I’ve attended the ALA exhibits only, but this was the first time I attended both the sessions and the exhibit.

Whether it was your first time or not, you could tell who was in the city for the library conference. Everyone attending was proudly toting a bright blue neon colored conference bag, proof that you had indeed registered and were now official to roam about the conference in any direction you desired.


I stayed at the Embassy Suites in downtown D.C,  due to it’s proximity to the convention center, and because they offered an incredible FREE breakfast buffet every morning!

But the coveted spot was the Marriott Marquis. This hotel was strikingly beautiful and convenient for attendees. It was seamlessly attached to the convention center, so that one could literally roll out of bed, down the escalators, and onto the convention floor!  So if you’re ever in D.C., you may want to consider staying at the Marquis for your next conference.

Dining in D.C.

A bit pricey wherever you go in the city, but one thing that was on just about every menu, and served as an accompaniment to several dishes on tables, was mambo sauce!

Meeting up in D.C.

The United States Capitol building.
Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash.

Throughout the conference I met librarians from all over the world.  On the shuttle from the airport to my hotel, I sat next to a librarian from London on one side of me, and a librarian from Prairie View A &M Texas University.  Later I chatted with a librarian from Wake Forest Public Library, North Carolina, and a retired school librarian from Richmond, Virginia.

Although the convention center was massive, and just about anyone I met was a stranger, it was incredible that I was still able to see my colleagues from the UW Tacoma Campus Library!

I had the pleasure of sitting in on our dynamic Library Director, Lauren Pressley’s, ACRL President’s Program on the topic of equity, diversity and inclusion, with guest author, Dr. Angela Spranger.

Other colleagues I ran into were UW i-School intern and Lauren’s assistant, Hallie Clawson, and working the ALA Press Booth, was UWT Librarian and recent graduate of the UW i-School, Kari Whitney.

Amazing Speakers and Sessions

I really enjoyed children and young adult author, Jason Reynolds, of “Miles Morales-Spider Man”. Jason was amazing and beloved.  A captivating and poetic storyteller. You can see his speech on ALA’s YouTube channel.

Other sessions enjoyed were,

  • “When You Can’t Go Home Again: Refugee and Exile Authors in the U.S.”
  • “Building a Digital Community Inside and Outside of the Library”

The Takeaway

Even though I was not able to stay the whole time for the conference, just to be in that atmosphere was energizing and positive. You get a global view of the profession, it’s future direction, and how influential libraries, and staff are to a community and organization. Through the vendor experience in the exhibits hall, I got a chance to see some of the latest trends for libraries in technology, furnishings and equipment, from processing to user services.

Thank you to all who connected me to the funding resources, gave me the time, and support to make it possible for me to attend!

It was worth it!

Forever grateful!

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