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Call for Proposals: 2024 VLA/VLACRL Annual Conference

Now Accepting Proposals

Proposal Submission Deadline: April 16, 2024

The VLA 2024 Annual Conference will be an opportunity for library workers across the state to celebrate the communities we serve and look forward to all the things we do best. Our theme, Welcome to the Libraratory, invites us to share our experimentations, creative solutions, and innovations in our libraries. 

VLA welcomes proposals that highlight: 

  • Experimentation, creative solutions, and innovations, even those that failed, as we often learn most from our FAILs (First Attempt In Learning).
  • Best practices, ideas, and tools for partnering together with other libraries, local and national organizations, regional affiliates, other agencies to innovate new opportunities and solutions in our communities.
  • Growing the diversity of our profession along with the career development, employability, and retention strategies.
  • The State of Libraries today and how we can create the future that helps us and our communities thrive.

VLA provides two options for submissions.

What do I need to complete the Proposal Form?

1) Know your Session Type:

  • Roundtable Discussion – Session rooms will be set with round tables and each table will discuss a different topic during a 45-minute period.
  • Presentation – A 30-minute presentation on a particular issue, program or service followed by a 15-minute casual discussion and/or Q & A session with audience. Usually features 1-3 speakers.
  • Panel Discussion – A moderated session featuring multiple speakers focused on a particular issue, program, or service. Panel discussions allow panelists to share thoughts, opinions, and experiences about a particular issue, program, or service followed by discussion driven by audience participation. May feature 3-5 speakers including a moderator.
  • Poster Session – Create a poster to showcase your program or research. This combined event on Wednesday evening will incorporate public, academic, special libraries and library partnerships and coalitions. The maximum size of a poster is 4 feet by 4 feet.
  • Lightning Talk  – This fast-paced session allows 5 people to present for 7 minutes each; this is a great opportunity to showcase a variety of topics in a quick and clear manner.
  • Libraratory Workshop  – Our conference Makerspace Studio will have flexible seating and a non-traditional setup -- no rows of seats, no projector for PowerPoints. Only a microphone will be provided, so get creative! Hands on activities are encouraged --bring your cool device but note that the studio will NOT have ventilation so no fumes, please!

2) Have your session title, description (50 words or less), three learning objectives & take-aways, and a description of how the program encourages attendee engagement.
3) Provide contact information for all speakers: name, email and organization.
4) Choose your preferred session date and time (choices are Thursday afternoon, Friday morning or Friday afternoon.)

Tips and tricks for submitting a stellar proposal:

  1. Keep your proposal clear and to the point. We get a lot of proposals; make it as easy as possible for the reviewers to get enthusiastic about your submission.
  2. Consider your audience. Explain why librarians and library staff would be excited to attend your presentation.
  3. Include the theme. Look for keywords and concepts in the call for proposals and incorporate them into your submission.

Proposals will be reviewed and presenters will be notified in May 2024. Requested session times and dates will be honored wherever possible. Up to two presenters per session will receive $75 off the conference registration fee. If you have any questions, please contact VLA Executive Director Lisa R. Varga at [email protected].

Click here to view the conference scoring rubric.
YOUR participation is what makes the VLA Annual Conference possible – we hope to hear from you! 

Nan Carmack, 2024 VLA President,
Natasha Payne-Brunson, 2024 VLA Conference Chair,
Christine Woods, 2024 VLACRL Conference Within A Conference Chair,
and the 2024 VLA Conference Committee

Hotel rooms at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott will be available at the VLA group rate of $158.00 per night plus taxes and fees. A link to reserve hotel rooms will be posted when conference registration opens in June/July.



2024 VALLA Cohort Announced


The Virginia Library Leadership Academy (VALLA) evaluation team received a record-breaking 110 applications for the 2024 cohort. We are excited to announce the following 22 individuals whose applications strongly demonstrated VALLA’s core commitment to equity, accessibility, inclusivity; personal growth; connection building; and individualized leadership. Each of the 22 individuals selected to attend the 2024 cohort stood out as being diverse and primed to continue to develop their leadership skills and embark on their own, personal leadership journey. 


Those accepted to the VALLA 2024 Cohort will begin their individualized leadership journey with a 3-day, in-person, intensive workshop, followed by a year’s worth of leadership topics and mentorship to continue to explore and develop their leadership capacity, at no cost to the participants, thanks to our generous sponsors


The application evaluation process was anonymous, having redacted any personal identifying information, and multiple evaluators scored each application utilizing a predetermined rubric to ensure an objective decision was reached. The 22 chosen applicants represent different types of libraries: Academic (9), Public (12), and School (1), and a variety of backgrounds and lived experiences.


Please join us in congratulating the following individuals on their acceptance into the 2024 VALLA Cohort:


  • Andrea Abernathy, Virginia Beach Public Library
  • Diamond Chavis-Waller, Suffolk Public Library
  • Yinlin Chen, Virginia Tech University Libraries
  • Tara Drayton, Sussex Central Middle School
  • Jane Gagne, Suffolk Public Library
  • Brea Gilliam, Prince George’s County Public Library
  • Jackson Hoch, Virginia Tech University Libraries
  • Amanda Jones, Loudoun County Public Library
  • Dana Ladd, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries
  • Shawna McGuffie, Hampton University Libraries
  • Wen Nie Ng, Virginia Tech University Libraries
  • Kristin Noell, Massanutten Regional Library
  • Haley Painter, Bland County Public Library
  • Clenise Platt, Virginia Beach Public Library
  • Elyse Ridder-Roe, University of Mary Washington Libraries
  • Marisa Rodriguez, Fairfax County Public Library
  • Kat Seastead, Prince William Public Library
  • Brittany Smith, George Washington University Libraries
  • Lauren Su, William & Mary Libraries
  • Jennifer Switzer, Mary Baldwin University Libraries
  • Mirna Turcios, Prince William Public Library
  • Aaron Wells, Central Rappahannock Regional Library

Published January 9, 2024


 2023 VLA Scholarship Basket Raffle Winners

The Scholarship Committee and I say, "Thank you!" to everyone who showed support for this year's Basket Raffle! Many of you showed out this year and donated the most imaginative and inspiring baskets which resulted in $5,805 raised for scholarships. We had 194 people purchase 26,710 tickets for a chance to win one of 26 baskets. This organization thanks you all for your dedication to helping fundraise for future librarians. You can read all about our scholarship recipients here.  - Quettara Drayton, 2024 Scholarship Committee Chair


List of winners:

Carol Turrentine: Jason Reynolds Basket
Kyle Binaxas: Life of a Manager Basket
Margot Manburg: VIVA Supports fREADom Basket
Elizabeth Insley: Deluxe Nancy Pearl Librarian Action Figure
Maryke Barber: Bose Soundlink Revolve II
Maryke Barber: Adult Graphic Novel basket
Margot Manburg: Youth Graphic Novel basket
Anna Robertson: Pride Basket
Shari Henry: Librarian Barbie basket
Nan Carmack: Things to Enjoy basket
Mary Kitiyakara: Edgar Allen Poe's Ravenous Basket
Keith Weimer: William & Mary Charcuterie Basket
Levi Carter: Friends of the Henrico County Public Library
Maryke Barber: Harrisonburg Farmers Market basket
Erin Guyer: Do What You Please: A post-conference relaxation basket
Sherida Bradby: Executive Committee Conference Basket
Alexandra Hall: Swag Across the State basket
Leith Alvaro: Coffee, Craft, and Create basket
Wayne Keith: Knitting Basket
Lisa Cheshire: Rest Your Bones Halloween Basket
Anne-Marie Parrish: Triple Delight: Cupcakes, Books, Puzzles basket
Katherine Vaughan: Intellectual Freedom Basket #1
Julie Arendt: Intellectual Freedom Basket #2
Babak Zarin: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators basket
Jimmy Ghaphery: Cooking with Alice basket
Shari Henry: Pumpkin Spice Everything



Celebrate Banned Books Week October 1-7, 2023

The VLA Intellectual Freedom Committee invites you to honor Banned Books Week, Oct. 1-7, 2023, themed "Let Freedom Read" by the American Library Association's 2023. Many libraries across the Commonwealth of Virginia will be hosting displays of banned books— books that while not completely eliminated from publication or distribution have been challenged and at times removed from libraries by government order. That some libraries find it politically unsafe to speak of “Banned Books” displays and need to use other terminology, such as "First Amendment" displays, provides a renewed justification for setting apart this week. Many libraries are also offering programming and activities, such as readings from banned books, to raise awareness about efforts to censor and the importance of standing for the right to read as a basic First Amendment and Civil right of all Americans.

We also invite you to read Nan Carmack's, VLA President-Elect, statement about Banned Books Week drafted by VLA’s President-Elect Nan Carmack, below.

Banned Books Week Oct 1 -7. 2023
 - Nan Carmack, President-Elect, Virginia Library Association
Banned Books Week serves not only to celebrate literature that disrupts comfortable thinking but also the very first idea that the founders of the United States of America added to our Constitution: The First Amendment. In asserting the freedom of speech to every person, our founders held sacred the notion that no one should be prevented from expressing or consuming ideas that others may find objectionable. Books that fall on the lists of banned or challenged books demonstrate the attempt by some to silence an author from expressing their ideas, their lived experience, their imagination. Bans and challenges also attempt to thwart the freedom of readers to explore the same ideas, experiences, and imaginings.
Dr. Rudine Bishop Simms, professor emeritus at Ohio State University, wrote a famed essay in which she likens books to “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors.” These analogies demonstrate how literature can provide the reader with a reflection of themselves, a window into which they can view the experience of another, and very special books that allow us to step into another world entirely. In doing so, books have the power to help folks grow their capacity for empathy, understanding, and compassion.  
This week, we celebrate not only the value of literature that challenge our own experiences, but the American ideal of the freedom of speech, in which no one person or entity can tell us what we can and cannot read. This week, we celebrate the League of Women Voters standing up for the Freedom to Read. Which book will you choose to read in celebration?



356 unique book titles were challenged across Virginia in the first 8 months of 2023, according to the American Library Association. That's nearly twice the 182 titles that came under fire in the state in 2022, which was double the previous year's number.

-October 3, 2023


Intellectual Freedom Display Contest 2023 sponsored by the VLA Intellectual Freedom CommitteeHas your library created a display or program during 2023 that promotes the ideas of intellectual freedom and the freedom to read, whether for Banned Books Week, Freedom of Information Day, Sunshine Week, Choose Privacy Week, academic freedom, or any other topic related to the First Amendment and censorship?

The Intellectual Freedom Committee is sponsoring a contest to recognize efforts to support access to information in Virginia’s libraries. We encourage you to submit your best activities, displays, events, and programs for this contest. Awards will be presented to both an academic library and a  public library. Here is the link to the contest application form.

The IFC will review all submissions and choose the winners, which will be announced during the annual VLA Conference in October. We encourage (but do not require) both photographs and a narrative about your event. The deadline for submissions is Thursday, October 12, 2023. If you have questions or cannot access the contest form in Google, please contact Rebecca Lamb.

Winners will receive a certificate and bragging rights for a year. Good luck!


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