April 24, 2018

ALA: Attendance on Track for Healthy Midwinter Meeting

By Norman Oder

  • Berry’s preview raised questions
  • Attendance ahead of last year’s pace

ALA Midwinter MeetingIn his December 15 preview article about the upcoming American Library Association Midwinter Meeting, Jan. 23-28 in Denver, LJ editor-at-large John N. Berry III raised questions about attendance in a tough economy, noting that, “The exhibits, a few fine speakers, some important information, and the boozing and schmoozing are really the only reasons to be at Midwinter, unless you are an elected or appointed member of some ALA unit or official body, and there are plenty of those.”

That observation ruffled some feathers, and ALA Senior Associate Executive Director Mary Ghikas contacted LJ to suggest that, “given the healthy registration numbers… Berry’s worries about attendance appear unfounded.” As of December 19, she pointed out, registration had reached 5,519. At the same time last year, five weeks before the meeting in Philadelphia, registration was 5,382. 

She noted that speakers will include Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus, at the ALA President’s Program, and journalist Jim Sheeler, who has covered the impact of the war in Iraq in the United States, who will present the Arthur Curley Memorial Lecture.

One vendor also questioned the premise of the article, suggesting, “Any member or library director who had planned to attend and/or send a representative will most certainly reconsider their decision after reading this article.” LJ Editor-in-Chief Francine Fialkoff commented, “While Berry expressed some skepticism, he also presented multiple reasons for attendance. We trust our readers to read our magazine thoughtfully.”