Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
Photo courtesy Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library

A few weeks ago, I met one of my team members in person for the first time.

I’d only ever seen Caleigh from the shoulders up, set against a background of carefully arranged books, artwork, and potted plants.

I’ve been Caleigh’s team member for a year and a half, and her manager for about six months. We have been through changes, successes, and failures in our personal and professional lives, all shared onscreen. But we were physically separated by more than three-thousand miles, until January 27.

That’s when I walked through the doors of a hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, and saw her jump off a bench and move quickly toward me.

The next few moments are a blur. We squealed. We hugged. There were tears. She handed me a knit hat in my favorite color, red, with the word Canada stitched across the front. (She lives in Alberta).

Our meet-up was the happy side effect of the conference season.

It’s my personal belief that every library staffer should attend at least one conference a year. Conferences give you the chance to step away from your day-to-day work and focus on personal and professional development. You have the chance to meet others in the library world facing the same struggles as you. You get new ideas. And you make new friends.

What topics do you want to see covered at conferences this year?

Now, if you are doing any library promotional work, I recommend attending a conference that offers you the chance to learn about marketing. That’s why I’ve been putting this list together for the past 8 years.

This time around, I used two factors to determine which conferences were included in this list.

  • The conference must have a robust selection of sessions specifically centered around marketing and promotions. That means there are some conferences on this list that are not specifically designed for libraries. They may not look like they have ideas that apply to your role. But if I felt the conference will teach you techniques or new concepts that you can adapt to your library work, I added it to the list.
  • The conference must offer high value for the cost. I am keenly aware of budgetary constraints for libraries. That means some really incredible conferences like Content Marketing World, are not on the list.

I’ve tried to include conferences that offer an in-person and virtual option. About 68 percent of event organizers plan to have a virtual component to their conferences in 2023. And for some library staff, travel to another city isn’t an option.

Finally, I must note that the conferences on my list are all in North America. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a link to a complete list of library conferences around the world and non-marketing-focused state library conferences in the United States.

Here is the list!

American Marketing Association

In-person and virtual events, all year long in various cities
Virtual events are free, in-person events usually cost between $500-$700 but you’ll get a discount with an AMA membership, which costs $29-$149/year.

Those of us working in library marketing will find camaraderie, ideas, support, and professional growth by joining this organization and attending its conferences. But if you aren’t interested in joining AMA or attending an in-person conference, sign up for their newsletters. Their free virtual events are worth attending.

Texas Library Association Conference

In-person event, April 19-22 in Austin, TX
$405 for TLA members, $725 for non-members

This conference features a huge lineup of sessions across a wide range of library topics. There are plenty of marketing-focused sessions, including a pre-conference workshop on telling your library’s story, a session on Instagram Reels, editing with Canva, artificial intelligence, and more. And these sessions are all led by staff doing real-world library work.

If you’re not a Texas librarian, you’ll still get a ton of value from attending this conference. I’ll be there too, so if you decide to go, send me an email, and let’s meet up!

Digital Marketing Conference Series

In-person and virtual events between April and July across the U.S. and between July and October in other parts of the world
Varies by location. You’ll generally pay around $600 for the bottom-tier in-person pass and about $200 for the virtual pass.

This series includes sessions on customer engagement, social media marketing, video marketing, web analytics, email marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization, geo-targeting, and much more. Each event has its own website and agenda so be sure to pick the one you want to attend before buying a pass.

Digital Summit Series

In-person events between April and November in 8 U.S. cities
Price: $895, which includes access to post-session recordings.

Libraries can learn a lot from brands about how to create engaging experiences in the digital space. This conference covers content, social media, email, SEO, analytics, and strategy.

U.S. Book Show

Hybrid event, May 22-25 in New York, NY
$19-$179 per person

This conference, organized by Publisher’s Weekly, is perfect for any library with a strategy for collection marketing. Sessions include the latest information on a variety of titles in various formats with lots of information that you can use to promote your collection. The tickets are very affordable and you can attend virtually if you don’t have the budget to travel to New York.

SMX Advanced

Virtual event, June 13-14

This conference is for anyone looking to improve their library’s ability to be found in search. You’ll learn how to drive more digital traffic to your website from industry leaders in the for-profit world. I’m planning to attend! And it’s free–you can’t beat that. Registration is now open.

Social Media Strategies Summit

Virtual event, June 14-15
Price: $349-$749 depending on when you purchase

This conference includes sessions on driving engagement, coming up with content ideas, choosing the right platform, how to avoid burnout, and many more social media-focused topics. The price and the format make it a perfect option for many libraries.

American Association of Law Libraries

In-person event, July 15-18 in Boston, MA
$795 for member’s full-conference registration, $1,195 for non-member full-conference registration.

I know many of my readers work at special libraries. And for those readers, this conference has included a marketing and outreach track (THANK YOU, ORGANIZERS!!) Tickets are a bit pricy. If you need to convince your boss that you should attend, they have a Justification Toolkit. Early bird discounts end on May 12.

Internet Librarian

Virtual event, October 17-19

The program is not yet available, but they do promise a variety of promotion-focused sessions, including information on social media management, video marketing, and podcasting. Registration is not yet open but you can sign up to get email updates on the event.

Nonprofit Storytelling Conference

In-person event, November 2-4 in San Diego, CA
Price: $895 for in-person with access to the videos or $695 for videos only

This conference is all about using stories to raise money, storytelling at events, storytelling to find donors and educate board members, and more. If you play a part in raising funds for your library or have a bond issue or levy coming up, this is a great option.

Library Marketing and Communications Conference

In-person event, November 7-8 in Indianapolis, IN
Price: TBD

If you do anything in library promotions or marketing, and you have to pick one conference to attend this year, make it this one. This is an amazing opportunity to learn so much about marketing, communication, public relations, social media, and outreach in academic, public, and special libraries. The sessions explore issues that are important for this niche of library work.

The conference includes time for attendees to network and discuss mutual challenges. Registration opens later this year. Sign up for their mailing list on the website to get more information. Join their Facebook group to start networking right now. I will be there!!!

Guru Conference

Virtual event, November 8-9
Price: free

Caleigh attended this conference in 2022 and raved about it! It’s full of insights, data, and tips to improve your library’s email marketing. And you can’t beat the price!

Bonus: one conference to watch for 2024

Social Media Marketing World

Hybrid event, March 2024
Price: TBD

I’m adding this to my list this year because it always happens before I’m able to publish. But it is a valuable conference for libraries.

It’s organized by Social Media Examiner and includes dozens of sessions on all of the platforms. It’s also huge. I mean, really huge. The in-person conference in San Diego, CA usually boosts about 5,000 attendees. If that’s too big for you, the on-demand pass is a great value. Sign up for their newsletter so you can be notified when registration opens for the 2024 conference.

For more library conferences across the U.S. and abroad, visit Information Today.

And next week, I’ll share the top tips for getting the most library marketing value out of your next conference experience.

More Advice

The Virtual Library Conference is Over and Now the Work Begins! Here’s What to do Once You’ve Closed Your Laptop

The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How Two Neighboring Libraries Teamed Up To Create a Fake Rivalry Video for Promotional Success

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