Annual Conference

Connect, Cultivate, Collaborate. Illinois Library Association. 2023 Annual Conference. October 24-26. Springfield


ILA Annual Conference
October 24-26, 2023
BOS Center
Springfield, IL


Program Schedule 

Register online


Keynote Speaker - Dr. Emily J.M. Knox

Dr. Emily Knox

Emily (she/her) is an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Her book, Book Banning in 21st Century America (Rowman & Littlefield) is the first monograph in the Beta Phi Mu Scholars’ Series. Her most recent book Foundations of Intellectual Freedom (ALA Neal-Schuman) won the 2023 Eli M. Oboler Prize for best published work in the area of intellectual freedom. Emily’s articles have been published in the Library Quarterly, Library and Information Science Research, and Open Information Science.

Emily serves on the board of National Coalition Against Censorship and is the editor of the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy.

Her research interests include information access, intellectual freedom and censorship, information ethics and policy, and the intersection of print culture and reading practices. She is also a member of the Mapping Information Access research team.

She has been interviewed by media outlets such as NPR, the Washington Post, Time, and Slate.

Emily received her Ph.D. from the doctoral program at the Rutgers University School of Communication & Information. Her master’s in library and information science is from the iSchool at Illinois. She also holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Smith College and an A.M. in the same field from The University of Chicago Divinity School.


President's Program Speaker - De'Amon Harges

De'Amon Harges

De’Amon Harges - faculty member of the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute, Community Organizer, Creator of the Learning Tree, chairperson of the Grassroots Grantmakers Association Board, and featured in the new documentary “The Antidote: On Kindness in America'' - is a frequent speaker on ABCD in secular and religious groups around the world, and is a layperson at Broadway UMC, Indianapolis, IN. De’Amon's role is to listen and discover the gifts, passions and dreams of citizens in his community, and to find ways to utilize them in order to build community, economy, and mutual “delight.”

The bulk of De’Amon’s work is based on the principles and practices of the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) that brings neighbors and institutions together to discover the power of being a good neighbor. De’Amon builds on what is already present and in place in the neighborhood, using those formally undiscovered assets to connect and empower rather than working only from the community’s needs and deficits.

De’Amon now describes his role on this planet as a social banker. He utilizes the intangible currencies that are cultivated and used by human assets and relationships to build a more abundant community.


Youth Services Author Breakfast Speaker - Jason Chin

Jason Chin

Caldecott medalist Jason Chin is the author and illustrator of many acclaimed books, including Grand Canyon, Redwoods and Your Place in the Universe. He received the 2022 Caldecott Medal for Watercress, by Andrea Wang and a Caldecott Honor, Sibert Honor, and the NCTE Orbis Pictus award for Grand Canyon. While researching his books, he’s gone swimming with sharks, explored lava fields and camped with scorpions at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Jason loves making art, learning about science and getting outside to hike, bike, ski and explore.

Jason grew up in a small town in New Hampshire that happened to be home to Caldecott medalist, Trina Schart Hyman. Hyman presented regularly at his elementary school and they met when he was a teenager. She became his mentor and guided him as he pursued a career in the arts. Jason studied art at Syracuse University and began his illustration career while living in New York City. In 2009 he published Redwoods, his first book as both author and illustrator. Since then, he as written and illustrated numerous award-winning books that combine his passion for nature, science and art. Jason now lives with his family in Vermont.

Jason Chin is a featured artist for the 2024 iREAD summer reading program theme: Read, Renew, Repeat.


DiversiTEA Speaker - Stephen Jackson

Stephen Jackson

Stephen Jackson is a motivational speaker, published author, restorative justice practitioner, licensed mental health counselor and champion for equity and inclusion. He is the founder of Global CommUnity Associates and serves as the Director of Equity and Anti-Racism at Oak Park Public Library (IL). He values public service and contributing to people’s lives through utilizing both Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices to create positive and safe cultures for organizations and communities.

In 2016 he participated in the inaugural work of integrating social services in Oak Park Public Library, becoming just the 4th library in the nation to hire a social worker on staff. He has held a number of roles in the organization, including Social Services Specialist, Teen Services Coordinator, Manager of Teen Services and in 2021 he became the libraries’ first Director of Equity and Anti Racism. In his work he has developed relationships with dozens public and private institutions across the nation that face similar challenges in wanting to dismantle systemic racist and oppressive systems that hinder relationships, disrupt productivity and the overall well-being of organizations and the individuals affiliated with them. He has worked on the development of frameworks to successfully engage with some of the libraries' most vulnerable and marginalized populations. This work has been referenced, adapted and modeled in numerous organizations and institutions.

Stephen is a perpetual learner. He completed his BA in Applied Behavioral Science and his MS in Mental Health Counseling at National Louis University. He is a devout family man who adores his wife Dr. Celeste Jackson and is at the mercy of his four children, Zayden, Stephen Jr. , Simeon, and Sophia.


IACRL Luncheon Speaker - Fobazi Ettarh

Fobazi Ettarh

Fobazi Ettarh’s research is concerned with the relationships and tensions between the espoused values of librarianship and the realities present in the experiences of marginalized librarians and library users. In 2018, she coined the term and defined the concept of “vocational awe,” which describe, “the set of ideas, values, and assumptions librarians have about themselves and the profession that result in beliefs that libraries as institutions are inherently good and sacred, and therefore beyond critique.” In her article “Vocational Awe: The Lies We Tell Ourselves,” she describes how vocational awe can lead to burnout and a sense that one’s own self-care is less important than the work being done.

Although written before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ettarh’s words have resonated with many library workers throughout the nation in the current moment, as we strive to serve our patrons and our profession as best we can amidst the competing demands of home, work, and health. Her remarks on equity and inclusion in libraries are just as timely and important. In a 2019 interview with Cathy Hannabach, she spoke of the resistance that marginalized library workers can face when advocating for better working conditions and talked about what a changing world might offer in the way of alliances and social progress. When describing what a better world would look like to her, Fobazi Ettarh said, in part, “a place where change is embraced, where people work as a collective rather than working in opposition to each other –and to one’s own interest — …a place where conflict isn’t seen as a four-letter word but as a fulcrum to a better time, a better organization, a healthier world and place.”

Fobazi Ettarh’s critical work on libraries, labor, and identity has been published in In the Library With the Lead Pipe and edited collections, including the Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook and Knowledge Justice: Disrupting Library and Information Studies through Critical Race Theory. She has given invited talks at numerous professional and scholarly conferences and events, including the Library as Place Symposium, and keynotes at the Association of College and Research Libraries and Library Journal Directors’ Summit. Her research has been covered in numerous outlets and she consults in library and corporate contexts on labor, identity, and diversity. She is also the creator of the open-access video game Killing Me Softly: A Game About Microaggressions.


iREAD Summer Reading Programs

Since 1981, iREAD provides high quality, low-cost resources and products that enable local library staff to motivate children, young adults, and adults to read.

Visit the iREAD website »