Imagine the Possibilities

Concurrent Program Session

A Cup of Conversation: The Living Room @ Your Library

Saturday, March 24, 2018, 10:45 AM - 11:45 AM

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 103 AB

How do you translate diversity from a statistic to a city’s growth in empathy and community learning? Living Room sessions at the Houston (TX) Public Library gather neighbors together to get to know one another over international coffee and tea, and to discuss issues that affect their communities, from refugee resettlement to language exchange. Learn how the library can build social cohesion as the community’s Living Room.

An online version of this concurrent program session was also presented during the PLA 2018 Virtual Conference.

At the end of this session, participants will:

1: Learn program approaches that aim to establish roots for new community members and make diverse cultures familiar to the community
2: Understand methods of building civic engagement across communities of different demographic backgrounds
3: Identify types of partnerships and programs to welcome and address needs of immigrants and refugees

The session organizer(s) identified this session as appropriate for:
Level 1: People with no previous knowledge of the topic.

This session will have: Medium interaction (example: single speaker/panel with questions or discussion throughout)

Handouts: Download 1  

Track: Collaborate

Tags: Serving Adults, Diversity, Inclusion, Outreach Services, Partnerships and Collaboration, Programming/Services


Carmen Peña Abrego, Community Involvement Coordinator
Houston Public Library , Houston , TX

Carmen Peña Abrego is an assistant manager of library events and community programs for the Houston Public Library system (HPL). She spearheaded the launch of Houston Public Library Quarterly (HPLQ), an author series which has featured Congressman John Lewis, award-winning journalist Kirstin Downey, and best-selling author Terry McMillan, among others. She has organized LibroFEST, an annual library-sponsored Latino literary arts festival, since 2012.

Helen Chou, Senior Manager of International Services
Houston Public Library , Houston , TX

Helen Chou is the Senior Manager of International Services at the Houston Public Library, and has focused her career in public service and economic development. Before joining the Library, she served with the Singapore government supporting international non-profit organizations to expand operations across Asia. Born and raised in Houston, she is passionate about the power of Houston?s diversity, and the opportunity to make Houston home for people from all backgrounds and nations of the world.

For questions about…

Cancellation Policy

The PLA 2018 Conference is offered on a cost-recovery basis. PLA reserves the right to cancel all or any part of this event if there is insufficient registration or for other reasons. Neither ALA nor PLA is responsible for cancellation charges assessed by the airlines or travel agencies, or other losses incurred due to the cancellation of the workshops. All information listed on this website is subject to change.

Attendee Cancellation Policy

Written cancellations, requests for refunds, and/or changes will be accepted until February 23, 2018, and are subject to a $30 handling fee. Refunds will be processed after April 23, 2018. According to PLA policy, all meal events require preregistration. The above cancellation/change information also applies to all preconferences, meal events, and tours. No meal tickets will be sold onsite.

Exhibitor Cancellation Policy

All booth space cancellation requests must be received in writing by Show Management (Corcoran Expositions). If space is reduced, the net reduction of space will be treated as a cancellation of that space. If Show Management receives a written request for cancellation of space on or before October 31, 2017, the exhibitor will be eligible for a refund less the nonrefundable deposit of $950 per 100 square feet of exhibit space. For cancellations received after October 31, 2017, exhibitors are liable for 100% of the cost of space.


Print and electronic advertising opportunities are available to reach PLA members and attendees both before and during the conference.


Interested in exhibiting at PLA 2018? Contact Carly DiVito, Corcoran Expositions, at 312-541-0567 or


Contact Macey Morales, Deputy Director, ALA Public Awareness Office, 312-280-4393 or Please review our conference media policy.


ALA and PLA membership is managed by the ALA Membership & Customer Service (MACS) unit. You can join or renew/rejoin/add to your membership using ALA’s secure online form; or you can print and fill out a membership form and fax or mail it in; or call 800-545-2433 and press 5. Direct your membership questions to MACS at or 800-545-2433 and press 5. MACS representatives are available Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM Central.

Registration & Housing

Problems or questions regarding registration or housing? Contact Experient at or 800-424-5249 (U.S. and Canada)/847-996-5829 (all other countries). Experient representatives are available Monday–Friday, 9:00 AM–6:00 PM Eastern.


To discuss PLA 2018 sponsorship opportunities, contact Corcoran Expositions, Mary Michalik at 312-265-9650,; or Matt McLaughlin at 312-265-9655,

Thank You PLA 2018 Conference Sponsors!

Other Questions

Many commonly asked questions are answered in our FAQ. If you don’t find the information you’re looking for, please contact PLA at 800-545-2433 x5PLA (x5752) or Or the PLA Staff directory may help you find just the right person to ask.

PLA 2016 Archive

Looking for handouts and other information from the PLA 2016 Conference, which took place April 5–9, 2016 in Denver, CO? The PLA 2016 Conference website has been archived at

View the list of past PLA Conferences from 1983 to present.