Sometimes we pursue innovation and sometimes it’s unavoidable. Together we have crossed the one-year mark in our pandemic reality.  So many things that were unthinkable in March 2020 have become our new normal.  In this past year libraries learned how to serve their communities when their physical space wasn’t an option, accelerating innovations and embracing changes.  As a post-pandemic reality seems to be inching toward the horizon, discussions move to capture lessons learned and what operational modifications can, and should, be maintained.

So what did NYLA learn from COVID-19? The show must go on.  Just like libraries that converted programming to an online format, NYLA delivered its first-ever virtual conference.  And just like when we gathered together in person, content is king; providing the best information and resources shared from across every corner of the state is what makes the NYLA conference valuable – in any format.  Positively the virtual format opened the conference up to participants who had been closed out by geography and lack of travel funding.

People still need and want, to connect.  ‘Zoom fatigue’ notwithstanding, NYLA members still want to connect.  From webinars, briefinars, online series, and virtual happy hours, we were able to interact with one another more than ever and did. I don’t foresee a point when a NYLA meeting doesn’t include a virtual participation option, opening engagement up to all members regardless of where they call home.  And NYLA thrives on those connections – the sharing, networking, and problem-solving that happens around committee, round table, and section meeting tables is the driving force of NYLA.

People love libraries and advocacy still matters.  Every type of library patron gave voice to missing their library in the past year.  Our communities became acutely aware of how integral the library as space, and venue, was to their lives.  That realization turned into action as we engaged with thousand of first-time advocates as part of NYLA’s online advocacy campaigns to impact the NYS Budget. Our collective voices grew (digitally) louder, and state dollars allocated in support of libraries increased.

NYLA’s operation is only as strong as our membership base.  When budgets get tight dropping what might be seen as a luxury – professional organization membership – might seem like the first and easy place to cut.  But when times are tough, it is our collective strength that becomes all the more important.  Your association needs your support in order to survive today and thrive tomorrow.  Remind your colleagues that NYLA matters, their membership matters, and that together we can continue to adapt, innovate, and flourish.


Call for Leaders

As an organization, NYLA is driven and powered by volunteers.  Many of your fellow members have stepped forward to give of their time and talents to help us collectively advance the organization’s mission to ‘‘lead, educate and advocate for the advancement of the New York library community.’  Perhaps now is the time for you to join their ranks.

Each of NYLA’s Sections and Round Tables are currently in the process of solidifying a slate of nominees to serve in leadership positions in the coming year.  No prior experience is required, no prerequisites to complete – all you need is a willingness to participate and a desire to be part of this larger effort that is NYLA.  Take this as your personal invitation – reach out to any of the NYLA Section or Round Table President, and raise your hand to engage in shaping your professional organization.

NYLA also welcomes petition candidates for office on the upcoming NYLA Council election ballot.  In order to secure a spot on the NYLA ballot, you must be a current NYLA member, submit a signed letter stating your acceptance of the nomination, and a petition of no fewer than 67* signatures of current NYLA members endorsing your candidacy.  A petition candidate’s materials must be received by the NYLA office no later than May 1.

{NOTE: petition signatures may be collected via electronic means – e.g. web form or via email} * 67 represents 1% of the total NYLA membership as of 12-31-20.


Looking Ahead: NYLA 2021 – Libraries: We’re All In!

In 2020, we were forced to navigate a series of unknowns and evolve the delivery of the annual conference to an all-virtual model.  This year, we face a similar challenge of unknowns, but are more experienced and better prepared.

Unknows impacting how the NYLA 2021 conference will take place:

  • Vaccine implementation / Herd Immunity
  • Virus Variants and Impact on Vaccine Effectiveness
  • NYS Imposed Gathering Caps (as of 3/8 cap is 100 people for an indoor gathering)

These factors will continue to evolve rapidly and will play a role in the final decision of how the NYLA2021 conference is implemented.  There are several options available that will be implemented based on the realities at the time.

VIRTUAL Conference

2020 demonstrated that it is possible for us to deliver a quality virtual conference event.  With that in mind, NYLA WILL deliver a VIRTUAL conference in 2021, which will take place regardless of any of the other options outlined here.

The NYLA VIRTUAL Conference 2021, will take place on Thursday, October 28 and Friday, October 29, 2021.

The 2021 NYLA Virtual Conference will be available for ‘stand-alone’ registration at a rate similar to the 2020 pricing.


IN-PERSON Conference

This model is built on the established NYLA conference format, with adjustments made for COVID-safe operations.  The number of breakout sessions in any given program slot has been reduced to five to ensure that they can be held in spaces large enough to allow for social distancing.  The in-person NYLA2021 conference is planned for Wednesday, November 3 – to Saturday, November 6.

  • Registration for the in-person conference will include bundled access to the virtual conference.
  • Session at the in-person conference will NOT be available via live streaming/broadcast.
  • Registration rates will be comparable to 2019 pricing.



In the event that an in-person event is deemed to be impossible*, the NYLA2021 conference will pivot to an all-virtual delivery.  This involves minor modifications to the program schedule.  All planned in-person programs will be converted to live broadcast programs, delivered online on Thursday, November 4, and Friday, November 5.  


Decision Timeline

A final determination about the format for the NYLA 2021 conference will be made on or before August 1.  Registration for the conference will open on August 1, ensuring that the format is fixed before launching registration.

* Impossible.  The NYLA in-person conference will be deemed impossible if a NYS cap on gathering is in effect that would prevent a group above 500 from taking place.  If the cap is at 500, conference registration may be limited to comply with the restrictions.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Jeremy Johannesen, CAE
NYLA Executive Director
518-432-6952 Ext. 101