The American Library Association (ALA) Presidential Candidates’ Forum, held Saturday evening, offered an opportunity for the four candidates running for the 2016–17 ALA presidency to present their platforms and answer audience questions. Candidates Joseph Janes, James LaRue, JP Porcaro, and Julie Todaro discussed their philosophies and history of service—both within and outside ALA—and answered questions on subjects ranging from their membership in ALA’s Freedom to Read Foundation to the relevance of current library education and job prospects for future librarians. Barbara Stripling, ALA president from 2013–14, moderated the forum.
While the American Library Association (ALA) conferences held in Chicago commonly see some of the highest attendance thanks to the association’s hometown’s central location, winter weather hitting Sunday of this year’s Midwinter made that something of a mixed blessing—more than 19 inches of snow between Saturday night and Monday morning. While many locals stayed home (and perhaps watched the Super Bowl) and a few out-of-towners were able to beat the storm by departing early, many librarians and vendors were snowed in. Some 1,500 flights were cancelled arriving and departing Chicago’s airports on Sunday and Monday, forcing them to stay one, two, or even three days longer than originally intended—including much of the LJ staff.
There will be more than enough information and action at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits (MW) of the American Library Association (ALA) to make it worth the cost and time for any library worker to attend. It features a sparkling array of celebrities and authors, a massive exhibit show floor at McCormick Place, a pile of jobs and opportunities, a packed schedule of meetings, the fantastic city of Chicago, and, best of all, plenty of chances to booze and schmooze with peers, colleagues, vendors, and new professional friends.
Activist librarian Zoia Markovna Horn died on July 12 at the age 96. She was famous for being the first U.S. librarian to be jailed for refusing to divulge information that violated professional principles of privacy and intellectual freedom. An activist member of the American Library Association (ALA) and a member and chair of its Intellectual Freedom Committee, Horn was jailed for 20 days for contempt after refusing to testify in the 1972 conspiracy trial of the “Harrisburg Seven.”
The 2014 American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition, held June 26 – July 1 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, saw some 13,019 attendees. Though this is a pretty substantial drop-off compared with the 20,237 attendees who came to Chicago in 2013, it is higher than the 12,000+ attendees who visited Annual in Anaheim, CA in 2012. Critiques of the location, which has not hosted an ALA annual conference since 1973, included the vast distances between event sites and the expensive transportation—and, of course, the heat, which topped out at 111 degrees. However, those who did attend seemed excited about the exhibit hall’s 800 company offerings, and heavy crowds surging toward the galley giveaways greeted the exhibit openings on both Friday evening and Saturday morning.
Something different is in store for attendees of this year’s American Library Association (ALA) annual conference, to be held June 26–July 1 at Nevada’s Las Vegas Convention Center. For ALA annual and Midwinter Meeting veterans, accustomed to a rotation of familiar venues, Las Vegas offers a new twist. This is only the second ALA get-together held in Las Vegas; the first was in 1973. It remains to be seen whether the famous tourist destination will attract attendees in the numbers that habitually turn out for centrally located Chicago—and whether those who do turn up will forsake the exhibit floor for the town’s famous shows and casinos.
The campaign to elect the 2015-2016 President of the American Library Association (ALA) ends this month. To help inform ALA members who haven’t yet voted, and to give other librarians some additional insight into key issues currently on the ALA agenda, LJ asked each of the candidates to respond to five questions. The candidates, Maggie Farrell, dean of libraries at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, and Sari Feldman, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, Ohio, responded. (Full biographies of both candidates are available on the ALA Election Guide.)