April 22, 2018

ALA Conference Attendance Leaps; Local Politicos Offer Boost

By LJ Staff

Back in Chicago, a popular location accessible to many, the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference set a new record in attendance. While last year’s conference in Orlando drew only 19,575 people, including 5,739 exhibitors, this year the attendance vaulted to 27,800, including 6,731 exhibitors. In fact, that number tops the previous record of 26,542, set in 2001 in San Francisco, as well as the Chicago totals of 24,000 in 2000 and 24,500 in 1995.

The Opening General Session featured two local Democrats. Both Richard M. Daley, mayor of Chicago, and keynoter Barack Obama, senator from Illinois, both criticized the USA PATRIOT Act. After Daley praised libraries as "the anchor of the community,’ he garnered loud applause when he urged attendees to "never, ever allow the federal government to interfere with our libraries." Obama said we live in a time "when truth and science are constantly being challenged by a political agenda." He praised librarians for standing on the front lines to prompt America to live up to its ideals.