The Future of Libraries

Once a year in the fall, the PLP Staff Development Committee hosts The Future of Libraries, a one-day conference that highlight innovations taking place in libraries today.


Future of Libraries 2021: Caring, Engaged, and Equitable             

October 6 & 7, 2021, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm PDT

Day 1, Program and Speakers:

Reconnecting to Abundance

Where we place our attention affects our sense of reality. In this workshop, participants will learn about the brain’s negativity bias and how to shift towards positivity to reconnect to abundance.

  • Aiko Michot, Remembering True Nature
The Power of Empathy: On Listening and Being Heard

This session will focus on the transformative power of empathetic listening. It will explore why empathy matters in different spheres of life, at work, at home, and in our communities. Yuri and Nethra will share insights and frameworks from Nonviolent Communication (NVC) that support participants in deepening their understanding of what it means to listen and be heard. The session will also include guided activities and prompts that support each participant in deepening their abilities to listen.

  • Nethra Samarawickrema & Yuri Zaitsev, The Lab for Listening
An Introduction to Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD)

Over the past year and a half, we have experienced perhaps more than ever in modern times the limitations of our institutions to creatively solve our most complex challenges. We have also experienced the importance of creative, people-led and community-centered initiatives to care for one another, effectively communicate critical information in ways, bolster local economies, and nurture our overall wellbeing. As we step into continually more uncertain times, Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) offers time-tested practices that libraries, their staff and leaders can utilize to unlock the hidden capacities within their communities while partnering effectively with community members and groups. In this session, ABCD Institute Faculty April Doner cover a brief history of ABCD, the differences between a service-centered and a community-centered approach, the six community assets, and core asset-based practices.

  • April Doner, ABCD Institute
Live Peer Presentations
  • Derek Wolfgram, Redwood City Public Library
  • Sally Thomas, Hayward Public Library w/ Community Partner


Day 2, Program and Speakers:

Understanding and Confronting Power for Racial Equity

In the world of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), the word “Power” surfaces a lot, but many people/institutions don’t know exactly how to operationally define, locate, strategically use, disrupt, or dismantle it. The gap that exists between an organization’s or individual’s espoused values and their actions suggests a need to more fundamentally understand how power functions in order to confront it for racial equity. During this one-hour event, Yejin Lee, an equity & justice coach and consultant, will provide an overview of power (with a focus on social/racial and positional powers), how they cause or compound racial harm to staff and visitors of color, and how to genuinely begin the humbling journey of embodying values of equity & justice.

  • Yejin Lee
This is How the Work Gets Done: Dismantling Everyday Racism in Libraries

This webinar will cover some of the core assumptions of libraries and explore racism’s permanence and ordinariness within libraries. We will discuss examples of where and how racism and white supremacy show up in libraries. We will introduce some alternative frameworks to approaching library work and end with some recommendations and suggestions on how we can shift our work towards anti-racist practices.

  • Sofia Leung, Do Better, Be Better LLC; Annie Pho, University of San Francisco
What is the Role of Radical Imagination in the Future of Public Libraries?

Presently we are at a precarious point in history. Perhaps we’ve always been in one but this one feels particularly piercing. If this is our reality, a reality filled with global grief, fear & uncertainty, what kind of future is possible for us? Where is it we are actually trying to go and have we spent enough time imagining it?

It takes a lot of creativity to imagine a world that doesn’t exist while living within the realities of a world filled with a tremendous amount of suffering and oppression. In 2020, DPL EDI Manager Ozy Aloziem and Colorado Poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre conceived of a radical imagination game as a part of Proyecto Sobremesa, a project that gathers and engages Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists and cultural workers in intimate dinners to discuss and plan a liberated future. They recognized a need for radical imagination, accountability, and collaboration in creating the communities and organizations we desire. The purpose of the game is to collectively practice radical imagination so that new innovative ideas and solutions can come to light. It’s important to practice this muscle of radical imagination so that we can imagine and then create the institutions we’re all deserving of but that don't yet currently exist. This presentation will define what radical imagination is in both theory & praxis and why it is needed now moreso than ever before. This workshop will also engage participants in practicing radical imagination. By activating radical imagination collectively, individuals begin to recognize that there are tangible steps that we can all take to really move in the direction of sustainable change.

  • Ozy Aloziem, Denver Central Library
Equity and Belonging at Your Library

In this session you will hear about strategies for normalizing, organizing, and operationalizing racial equity at all parts of a public library. Topics covered will include racial equity tools for policy and decision making, strategies for successful staff-led racial equity teams, and resources for how to initiate staff dialogue spaces at your library.

  • Amita Lonial, Tacoma Public Library
Being Heard at Work: A Collective Space to Process and Heal

(Max: 100 participants)

Do you have a hard time expressing yourself and feeling heard at work? Are you looking for places where you get to be real, to process, and heal with others who get the challenges you face?

Even amidst the increasing awareness of the importance of empathy and listening at work, many employees, particularly from historically marginalized communities, find it hard to freely talk about what’s really going on for them amidst other co-workers. And yet, many of us are hungry for environments where we can be truly real and heard with empathy without having to perform.

In this session, we will create a safe space to talk about: 1) Healing from difficult experiences and relationships at work. 2) Empowerment at work where you learn to connect with your needs, find your voice, and express yourself. 3) Balancing work life with creative projects. 5) Burn out, self-care, and boundaries.

  • Nethra Samarawickrema & Yuri Zaitsev, The Lab for Listening
Pre-Recorded Peer Presentations
  • Vi Ha, Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library
  • Melissa Morrone, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Julie Eseltine, Pleasanton Public Library
  • Lori Carducci, Pleasanton Public Library
  • Megan Wong, Burlingame Public Library
  • Francesca Garibaldi, Monterey Public Library


The Future of Libraries 2021 conference is brought to you by the Pacific Library Partnership Staff Development Committee (PLPSDC) in partnership with California Libraries Learn (CALL).

Future of Libraries 2021 Conference is supported by California Libraries Learn (CALL), a joint project of the California State Library and the California Library Association. CALL is supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.
For more information about the Future of Libraries conference, contact