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GREETINGS AND WELCOME TO COME TOGETHER: CONFERENCE CENTENNIAL, THE 2023 ANNUAL CONFERENCE. We are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first Virginia Library Association conference held in 1923. This year we are convening in Northern Virginia at the newly renovated Westfields Marriott in Chantilly. We hope you can take advantage of the museums, landmarks, and sites in the nation’s capital either immediately before or after this year’s conference. Closer to the conference location in Chantilly, there is the National Air & Space Museum, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Bull Run Regional Park, Great Falls National Park, Flatlick Stream Valley Park, Cub Run Stream Valley Park, Eleanor C. Lawrence, Park, NOVA Wild, Fairfax and Prince William library locations, a host of delicious restaurants, and several local golf parks.

Jason Reynolds is our keynote speaker! He is a New York Times bestselling author and poet, and his works have been the recipients of a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Award. His many works include: Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, All American Boys (with Brendan Kiely), Long Way Down, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (with Ibram X. Kendi), Stuntboy, in the Meantime (illustrated by Raúl the Third), and Ain’t Burned All the Bright (with artwork by Jason Griffin). He was also the 2020-2022 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and an NAACP Image Award Winner. He is a celebrated orator and has been featured at local and national conferences and on several media outlets.

We are excited to come together not only to celebrate the centennial of the first VLA conference, but for all the reasons they chose to convene. We will share best practices, successes, failures, brilliant ideas, and lessons learned through enlightening programs, sessions, presentations, lightning talks, and poster sessions. There will be author talks, vendors, and opportunities to network throughout the venue during our Scholarship and Awards Banquet, luncheons, Silent Disco at the All-Conference Social, introvert and extrovert lounges. My favorite is always the “Conference Magic” that happens by happenstance when we meet someone new, reconnect, or strike up just the right conversation that takes us toward a great new collaboration!

While this has been a whirlwind year for Virginia Libraries, let us remember the unprecedented struggles we’ve faced to uphold intellectual freedom and the Right to Read. We have seen local, state, and national challenges and rallied around to support each other. Let’s come together not only to network, celebrate our centennial, and continue learning and growing together, but to support each other in our ongoing endeavors to reaffirm the basic tenants of librarianship—libraries as welcoming places for all, intellectual freedom, and access, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Kimberly Knight
2023 VLA President

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Hello everyone!

On behalf of the 2023 VLA Conference Committee, I want to welcome y'all as we "come together" in gorgeous Chantilly.

The year since our last conference has been exciting for librarianship, filled with opportunities for growth as new technology and new cultural awareness raised deep questions about who, and how, our communities use the library. For this year's conference we wanted to embody that excitement to make sure you could share all you've been learning! A few "behind-the-scenes" ways we've done that this year is by:

  • introducing a new session format, Roundtable Discussion, increasing the number of ways to share knowledge with your library peers;
  • furthering our commitment to accessibility, environmental sustainability, and DEIA, most notably through adopting this year's environmental sustainability pledge and Land and Labor statement;
  • and creating new ways to showcase your VLA love with our soon-to-be-released online storefront.

But more important is the "in-front" experience! This year's sessions showcase how Virginia library staff work with each other and their communities to innovate, enhance learning, and re-engage the past. There's an extrovert lounge, an introvert promenade, and a Silent Disco for socializing, as well as Chantilly itself to explore. And the vendor hall and VLA forum row looks forward to meeting you. We will also have our annual raffle baskets, which help fund the next generation of Virginia library workers.

So please, relax, learn, and above all enjoy VLA 2023!

Thank you,
Babak Zarin,
2023 VLA Conference Chair
P.S. Be sure to share your experience in the post-conference survey: we will be drawing on those as we plan next year's conference in Norfolk!

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2023 VLA Land and Labor Acknowledgment

Virginia was one of the first points of contact between Indigenous peoples and European settlers. Over centuries of warfare, disease, forced migration, and broken treaties, indigenous peoples were reduced to a small fraction of survivors living on limited portions of their historical lands. The descendants of these people are still here today: we recognize the Manahoac and Doeg, who lived near Chantilly and whose descendants are not strangers to the land once considered their territory.

The Transatlantic slave trade in the Thirteen Colonies first began here, cementing Virginia’s four hundred year history with racial injustice. The land nearby was worked by enslaved laborers, and our meeting rooms bear the names of prominent enslavers. People of color furnished uncompensated and under-compensated labor to build many of our professional institutions, yet were systematically excluded from those spaces through legislation and culture for four centuries. We acknowledge and pay respect to the enslaved Africans, enslaved laborers, and free Black laborers who resided in Virginia, as well as their descendants.

As a statewide organization, the Virginia Library Association acknowledges the library profession’s history of supporting structures of racial inequity in its services, collections, and spaces, and seeks to honor the history of Virginia by an accurate acknowledgement of the contributions of all its inhabitants. To this end, The Virginia Library Association is working toward correcting past mistakes through a variety of actions. These include:

  1. providing training in diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Executive Committee, Council, and other library leaders;
  2. supporting the growth of the Librarians of Color and LGBTQIA+ Forums;
  3. being intentional and inclusive about whom we invite to speak at our conferences and to serve in leadership positions;
  4. standing up for the freedom to read books by and about marginalized populations;
  5. supporting the continued preservation and sharing of indigenous knowledge and history
  6. funding travel scholarships to the Joint Conference for Librarians of Color (JCLC); and
  7. humbly recommending Native Land Digital (, which, in their words, is a space “where non-Indigenous people can be invited and challenged to learn more about the lands they inhabit … and how to actively be part of a better future going forward together.”

To this end, we encourage conference attendees to connect with and support, as able, VLA’s Librarians of Color and LGBTQIA+ Forums, as well as to further connect and support library organizations working towards justice for Native American and Indigenous people, African Americans, and other marginalized peoples such as the American Indian Library Association and ALA’s Black Caucus.

Thank you to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Native American and Indigenous Cohort at Washington & Lee University, The University of Virginia, and numerous colleagues, who helped craft this land and labor acknowledgement. 

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Sustainability Pledge

The Conference Committee is finalizing the Sustainability Pledge. Please check back to see how you can help make the 2023 VLA Annual Conference more sustainable.

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