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TLA 2021 Will Be Virtual

TLA Annual Conference, TLA News

To our TLA library community,

The Texas Library Association Executive Board has made the proactive decision that the TLA 2021 Annual Conference (originally scheduled for April 20-23 in San Antonio) will be a fully virtual event held April 22 – 24.

We know librarians love seeing each other in person; and we know that you, like us, have been craving the warmth and energy that comes with in-person events. However, the only thing that is certain in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic is the uncertainty we continue to face in our personal and professional lives.

This virtual conference will be accessible to all, no matter where you live or your ability to travel; it also will be more affordable. (Early bird member rate is $69; see more details here.) Most important, it will be the best way to protect the health of everyone involved with this event.

Responding to your requests: To help our leadership make an informed decision about the TLA 2021 Annual Conference, we sent a short survey to current and past TLA members, and conference attendees. More than 1,500 responded and shared their preferences and concerns.

  • While 53% indicated they are somewhat likely to attend or would definitely attend an in-person conference, 58% are unsure if their organizations/institutions will allow them to travel outside of their communities in April, and 57% are somewhat or extremely concerned about their health and safety while attending an in-person event.
  • Fifty-four percent indicated they are somewhat likely to attend or would definitely attend a virtual conference.
  • About half (46%) have a professional development budget that would allow them to attend a virtual or in-person conference. Almost the same number (42%) are unsure at this time if they will have a professional development budget.
  • When asked if they would pay their own expenses to attend an in-person conference, 51% said it depended on the pricing and programming. The results were very similar when asked if they would pay their own expenses to attend a virtual conference; 55% responded that it would be dependent on pricing and programming.

What does all of this tell us? That while many librarians would love to get together in person this spring, circumstances beyond everyone’s control make it unlikely that they would be able to attend an in-person conference.

TLA begins planning the annual conference a full 18 months in advance. By September, in typical years, the program would be all but finalized, speaker contracts would be sent for signatures, space in the exhibit hall would be 80% sold and sponsors would be confirmed.

This is not a typical year.

Authors, speakers and exhibitors are dealing with the same uncertainties facing librarians, and many are unable to commit to participating in an in-person conference.

Because of the complexity and scope of an in-person TLA Annual Conference, we cannot delay planning for months in the hope that our country’s public-health situation will improve to the point that it is safe and reasonable to conduct an in-person event that typically draws 6,000 people.

By making this decision now, we will have time to develop a new, more-interactive virtual event offered on a top-of-the-line event platform, ensuring that we are able to provide outstanding programs of value to all types of libraries and librarians.

We are working as quickly, and thoughtfully, as possible to finalize decisions on registration and programming and will share more detailed information in the next few weeks. Thank you for your support and we look forward to fantastic, new experience at TLA 2021!

Do you have questions for TLA about the 2021 conference? Submit your questions here.