Talking Points on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Issued by ALA

The American Library Association (ALA) is continuing with its plan to hold its 2003 Annual Conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This rare joint conference of ALA and the Canadian Library Association (CLA), to be held June 19-25, 2003, will be the world's largest and most comprehensive annual library event and exhibition. For more information about the ALA Annual Conference, visit the Events and Conferences section of The following frequently asked questions were issued May 2, 2003.

  1. Why is ALA keeping the Annual Conference in Toronto?
    After lengthy discussions and consultation with international and national health officials about the occurrence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the American Library Association (ALA) Executive Board today announced the Annual Conference will remain in Toronto, June 19-25.

    The ALA is taking the occurrence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Toronto very seriously, and the health of our members, staff, exhibitors and wider library community has been the only consideration in determining whether or not to go to Toronto. ALA has consulted daily with regional, national and international health officials and monitored reports, including the lifting of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Toronto travel advisory.

  2. How will preconferences, programs and special events change?
    ALA is hopeful that Conference programming will not change significantly. The Web site will be updated constantly in order to provide the most current information. ALA Web site at You can also call the ALA Conference Infoline at 1-800-545-2433; press 4 when you hear the prompt.

  3. Is it safe to travel to Toronto?
    As of April 30, 2003 the WHO lifted travel advisory for Toronto ( ALA has been assured by medical professionals that the risk of SARS in the general population is extremely low and extensive control measures are in place to prevent any further spread of the illness.

    On April 23, 2003, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued an interim travel alert that did not advise against travel, but did encourage travelers to observe precautions like frequent hand-washing and avoiding health care settings (

  4. Where can I go for additional information?
    ALA has set up the ALA Conference Infoline for the latest information on Annual Conference. Dial 1-800-545-2433, press 4 when you hear the prompt.

    You can also visit the ALA Web site home page and Events and Conference section for the most current information. Health professionals have encouraged people to rely on official CDC and WHO information. For more information, visit:

    World Health Organization:
    Centers for Disease Control:
    American Library Assn.:

Specific Travel Concerns

If you are an attendee canceling your trip:

  • ALA has extended the deadline for canceling conference registration to May 19, 2003. You can fax your cancellation request to 1-312-280-1538, or mail to: 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611, Attn: Registration. To receive a refund we must receive your cancellation request no later than May 19, 2003. All refunds will be processed after July 1, 2003.

  • If you have made your reservations through the ALA Travel Desk (International Travel Service), there is no penalty for canceling hotel reservations at this time. To reach the ALA Travel Desk, please call 1-800-424-5249 or 847-940-2155 and identify yourself as an attendee or exhibitor of the ALA/CLA Annual Conference in Toronto.

  • ALA regrets that it will be unable to refund airfare expenses purchased through the ALA Travel Desk. To contact the ALA Travel Desk with inquiries about credits to your account, please call 1-800-424-5249 or 847-940-2155 and identify yourself as an attendee or exhibitor of the ALA/CLA Annual Conference in Toronto.

  • If you did not use International Travel Service to book your airfare, you should contact the carrier through which you purchased your tickets regarding any refunds or credits.

  • If you became an ALA member when you registered for Annual Conference and you are now canceling your registration, ALA will honor your membership, regardless of your decision.

If you are an attendee unsure if you are going to Toronto:

  • To accommodate members who have not yet finalized their plans, ALA has extended its advanced conference registration price deadline from May 9, 2003 to June 13, 2003. You will now have an additional month to make your decision.

If you have canceled registration but would like to reinstate it:

  • Contact the ALA Travel Desk (International Travel Service), at 1-800-424-5249 or 1-847-940-2155 and identify yourself as an attendee or exhibitor of the ALA/CLA Annual Conference in Toronto.

If you are an exhibitor at the ALA Annual Conference:

  • Contact Hall-Erickson, Inc. at 1-630-434-7779 with any questions or concerns.

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