Schedule At A Glance

More Events TBA!

Pre-Conference Workshop: ALA Advocacy Bootcamp with Megan Cusick and Kristin Pekoll

(Free Ticketed Event - Must register in advanced when completing general registration, limited seating)

"Who needs libraries?" Beneath those three words is an iceberg of challenges, from delivering on-point messaging, gathering compelling statistics, and the need to re-educate key audiences on the value of libraries, fundamental not only to librarians, but to our democratic society at large. The recent rash of anti-library trends, including the anti-tax movement, privatization, removal of independent library boards and deprofessionalization, point to a systemic shift in our landscape that is very different than budget cuts and recession: an attack on libraries as a public service.

Advocacy and Intellectual Freedom Bootcamp urges attendees to re-think advocacy: to re-define the library community and expand the way we have been advocating for libraries. This session will help library communities prepare to advocate for libraries as fundamental building blocks to democracy, building on the momentum of and key message of ALA’s new public awareness campaign, Libraries Transform. The program will cover advocacy basics such as messaging, networking and community engagement. Intellectual Freedom, as the essential brand of librarianship, and as a value that grows from a solid policy infrastructure, will also be covered. Attendees will focus on actionable steps that they can implement in their library. This is a joint effort of ALA's Office for Library Advocacy and the Office for Intellectual Freedom. (from ala.org)


Megan Murray Cusick is the Grassroots Specialist in ALA’s Office for Library Advocacy. She assists the advocacy efforts of librarians, library staff and advocates across the country, in cooperation with other ALA offices, as well as state chapters and affiliates. She has also provided support to the Center for the Future of Libraries by identifying the work of libraries that intersects with broader social trends. Prior to joining ALA in 2015, Megan was a high school librarian and co-founder of Chi School Librarians. She has presented and published on topics such as partnerships, library trends, intellectual freedom and advocacy.



Kristin Pekoll is the Assistant Director for ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom where she works with librarians, teachers, administration, and parents regarding challenges to library materials and reading lists. After receiving her MLIS at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, she was a young adult librarian for 12 years in Wisconsin. In 2009, more than 80 YA LGBTQ books were challenged. While the library board voted to retain all of the books, Kristin learned the indispensable value of support and education for librarians. She continued to fight against censorship in Wisconsin as the chair of the Intellectual Freedom Roundtable. She is a contributor to the 9th edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual and True Stories of Censorship Battles in America's Libraries. And she is a published author with AASL's Knowledge Quest, VOYA, and Huffington Post. Kristin has presented in panels and keynotes for national and state conferences. She designs original webinars and custom tailors all of her online presentations to the specific situation. Although, she has facilitated to a broad range of audiences, her favorite are still teenagers.

Opening General Session: State of Mississippi Libraries

Hulen Bivens: Hulen E. Bivins is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Library Commission.  Previously, he has been the Director of both the South Carolina State Library and the North Dakota State Library.  He was also the Assistant Director of Alabama’s State Library and he has been a member of the library staff at Marshall University, a Division Chief with the Nashville TN Public Library and the Director of the Spring Hill TN Public Library.  Bivins holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Lipscomb University, a Master of Science in Library Science from the University of Tennessee, and a Juris Doctorate from the Jones School of Law at Faulkner University.


Lori Barnes, Director, Jackson-George Regional Library System

Barnes has worked in the librarianship field for thirty years and has been in her current position since 2013. Prior to that, Lori was the Branch Manager of the Pascagoula Public Library, where she received her first library card at the age of four. A graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi (BS, Interior Design) and The University of Alabama (MLS), Barnes has also worked as a school Media Specialist for seven years and has worked in various public library positions. Barnes prioritizes participation in professional library associations and organizations, including serving on the Committee for Public Library Development of the Alabama Library Association, as well as with efforts to expand services for the incarcerated. Barnes currently serves on the Scholarship Committee, the Awards Committee, and is the current MLA secretary.


Stephen Cunetto, Associate Dean, University Libraries, earned his B.S. in Communication at Mississippi State University and his Masters in Library and Information Science at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2006. As the Associate Dean he provides strategic direction, oversight, and maintenance of the Libraries' technological infrastructure and technology services, ensuring tight integration of all digital and online services as well as assists in the overall management and strategic operation of the University Libraries. He manages and provide direction for Access Services, Digital Media Center, Systems, Web Services, Digital Preservation and Access Unit, and the Charles Templeton Music Museum. Other responsibilities include serving as the director of the Mississippi Library Partnership, a consortium of 53 academic, public and school libraries, managing the Mississippi Academic Library Consortium and serving as a member and the Technical Advisor for the MAGNOLIA project. Cunetto served as the President of the Mississippi Library Association, Mississippi Theatre Association, Starkville Area Arts Council, and Starkville Community Theatre.



Amanda Osborne, M.A.T, NBCT

Osborne has 17 years of experience as a Mississippi public school educator.  After graduating with a B.A. in Literature from the University of North Carolina in Asheville, she began a 13 year career teaching middle and high school English throughout Central and North Mississippi. During that time, she earned a Masters in Arts in Teaching degree from Belhaven College in Jackson, MS, as well as National Board Certification in Early Adolescence English Language Arts. In 2014, she transitioned to the role of Librarian for grades 5-8 at Pontotoc Middle and Jr. High Schools in Pontotoc, MS. Now a 5 year school librarian veteran and graduate student at the University of Mississippi, she serves as Librarian at Oxford High School in Oxford, MS. She is also happy to be the mom of 11 year old Annelise, 8 year old Ivy Scott, and a one-eyed rescue dog named Cap-n-jack.


MLA's mission is to provide professional leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

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