Designed by library directors for library directors.

Being the director or dean of a library or cooperative, regardless of size or type, is a unique job with unique needs that often only another person in that position can fully comprehend or appreciate. Designed to meet the unique professional development needs of Michigan library directors, Think Space will showcase innovations in key areas of library management, leadership, and technology via compelling and cutting-edge sessions presented by well-respected experts, all while giving attendees the opportunity to build deep, lasting relationships with a cohort of library leaders throughout Michigan.

Each cohort group will spend four days dissecting and understanding one primary issue of critical importance to today’s libraries. Past topics have included:

2021-2022: Equity, Diversity, and Accessibility
2022-2022: Holding True to Our Values and Staying Strong


Ahead for Think Space 2023-2024: Future Ready Libraries

Future ready librarians peer beyond basic service to pursue innovation and iterative design.  They honor the legacy of classic librarianship while embracing a contemporary vision. Fiscally responsible and infinitely responsive, future proof libraries do not rest on their hands or their laurels. They stake a claim on the shifting landscape of relevance and solve the right problems for their patrons.

Topics covered will include:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Deconstructing barriers to access
  • Building future focused spaces
  • Fostering resilient workplaces
  • Questioning the why behind our policies
  • Reimagining the library of the future

Think Space is an all-inclusive educational and networking experience including four full days of learning, two overnight hotel stays, meals, fun special events, and the opportunity to build deeper, lasting relationships with other directors and deans of libraries throughout Michigan. Join your colleagues for time to THINK deeply in a safe SPACE.


The Value of Think Space

As a new library director, Think Space was instrumental in my professional development. Encouraged by our library's cooperative, I explored MLA’s learning and networking offerings, a decision that proved invaluable. The knowledge and insight I acquired by attending Think Space found practical application in benefitting our library. I shared what I learned with staff and Library Board Trustees, sparking conversations that led to needed policy revisions. Following my participation at Think Space [2022-2023], we eagerly addressed the limitations of our collection development policy. Our collection development policy lacked proper attention, consisting of a half-page, called buying and selecting, that hadn't been updated since 2010. The significance of a robust Collection Development Policy, underscored in Think Space’s second session, was evident.

Jack Buck, Director, Richland Community Library

I am a big believer in continuing education and try to do as much as I can.  Think Space was by far the most beneficial conference that I’ve been part of.  The group of other directors from all over Michigan was full of insights and questions and suggestions that made me shift my perspective on some things and also feel a lot of solidarity and support.  The speakers were impressive and new to me.  The information covered was incredibly valuable for what we face as library directors.  The staff at MLA does a great job of putting this together and reminding us that we and our experiences are a priority to the organization.

Claire Meeker, Director, Romeo District Library

Taking a deep dive into a specific topic with other library directors provided an avenue for me to really understand tough issues. It gave me the space and time to figure out how to (better) handle issues like challenged materials in my own library. I really value the time spent with other directors and solidifying a network of peers. Think Space is an invaluable cohort and one of the best conference activities I have participated in.

Val Meyerson, Director, Petoskey District Library



Registration will open early Fall 2023.

The Think Space cohort will meet in person this December for the first two-day gathering, followed by a virtual check-in session in February, the second gathering in May, and concluding with a breakfast reception during the MLA 2024 Annual Conference that is exclusively for members of the Think Space cohort.

Registration includes all educational sessions, breakfasts, lunches, receptions, special events, parking, ferry ticket, and overnight accommodations in Grand Rapids and Mackinac Island.

Registration Rates

Member: $1,695
Non-member: $3,390



Amway Grand Plaza, Grand Rapids

Thursday, December 7, 2023
12:00 – 5:00 Think Space Sessions
6:00 – 9:00 Evening Group Activity
Friday, December 8, 2023
8:00 – 3:00 Think Space Sessions

Virtual Session

Tuesday, February 20, 2024
10:30 - 12:00 via Zoom

Mission Point Resort, Mackinac Island

Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Optional early arrivals welcome on Mackinac Island
Add an extra night and parking for $250
Thursday, May 23, 2024
12:00 – 5:00 Think Space Sessions
6:00 – 10:00 Reception on the Porch
Friday, May 24, 2024
8:00 – 4:00 Think Space Sessions

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Thursday, October 17, 2024
8:00 – 9:00 Think Space Breakfast



All programs, activities and services of the MLA will be provided equally and are supported in part by the
Michigan Arts and Culture Council


Uniting the Michigan Library Community

MLA is proud to partner with organizations serving the library community.

Friends of Michigan Libraries logo