February 17, 2018

After SARS Outbreak, ALA Extends Conference Cancellation Deadlines

By LJ Staff

The new outbreak of SARS over the Memorial Day weekend (see LJ Academic Newswire 5/27/03) has raised new questions about the viability of the American Library Association/Canadian Library Association joint Annual Conference June 19-25. ALA officials on May 28 issued a FAQ regarding the conference. Given that neither the Centers for Disease Control nor the World Health Organization (WHO) had specifically recommended against travel to the city, ALA officials said that the conference would proceed as scheduled–though they acknowledged that new developments could change that. (A travel advisory from the WHO, which began April 23, had nearly convinced ALA to move or cancel the conference before it was rescinded April 29, so a new travel advisory could be a similar trigger.)

ALA extended the refund deadline for members to the date of the conference, minus a $40 processing fee. Exhibitors who wish to cancel also gained an extended deadline; they will receive a 50 percent credit toward the 2004 Annual Conference, minus a processing fee of $100 per 100 square feet. Since April, ALA had received about 1,000 cancellations, though the number of preregistrants (9,700) was comparable to that for the 2002 annual conference in Atlanta. More than 5,100 people in Ontario have been sent into quarantine in the past week, according to the Globe and Mail, and provincial officials said they expect the situation to get worse before it gets better, in the short term. As of May 28, there were 13 probable and 20 suspect SARS cases in Ontario.