February 17, 2018

ALASetsAttendance Record atConference

By Norman Oder

As librarians gathered in Washington, DC for the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference, this past weekend, the attendance totals set a new record. The conference drew 28,635 people, including 21,466 registrants and 7169 exhibitors. The previous record was 27,962, set in Chicago in 2005. (LJ reported 27,800.) Last year, in post-Katrina New Orleans, the show drew 16,964.
With high-profile keynoters (former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Garrison Keillor), a host of big names for the Auditorium Speaker Series (Ken Burns, Anthony Romero, Nancy Pearl, etc.), and numerous authors presenting, the conference offered no shortage of crowd magnets. Equally important, of course, were the meetings and panels concerning the nuts and bolts (and bytes) of librarianship. A Washington Post article focused on The Hollywood Librarian and its portrayal of the challenges facing today’s multifaceted librarian. (For a critical take, see the LJ Insider.)
The location of the conference offered several advantages. Yesterday, hundreds of librarians spent the day advocating for libraries on Capitol Hill, wearing red “Support Libraries” t-shirts while walking around the corridors of Congress. On Friday, ALA president-elect Loriene Roy, the first Native American to lead the organization, was saluted with an honor dance at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

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