Contacts: Macey Morales/Jennifer Petersen
ALA PIO Media Relations
(312) 280-4393/5043
mmorales@ala.org, jpetersen@ala.org


NEWS
For Immediate Release
May 27, 2008

Anaheim site for national discussion on state of America’s libraries— engines of learning, literacy and economic development

Speakers include Ron Reagan, Vernon Jordan, T. (Berry) Brazelton, MD, Diahann Carroll, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Frey, Khaled Hosseini and astronaut Sally Ride

CHICAGO – The crisis in school library funding, services for non-English speakers, gaming and other issues will be examined during the American Library Association’s 2008 Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

More than 20,000 librarians, authors, publishers and library supporters are expected to attend the conference, held June 26-July 2 at the Anaheim Convention Center. This year’s roster of newsmakers and authors will include Ron Reagan, Vernon Jordan, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, Khaled Hosseini, Jamie Lee Curtis, Diahann Carroll, James Frey, and Sally Ride.

According to ALA’s State of America’s Libraries Report ( http://www.ala.org/2008state), libraries of all kinds continue to be engines of learning, literacy and economic development in communities nationwide. Last year alone, Americans checked out more than 2 billion items from their public libraries, including books, DVDs, videogames, audiobooks and even artwork.

Yet libraries face continuing challenges that will be discussed at the ALA Annual Conference. For the first time ever, funding for school libraries and the school library media specialists who staff them is declining, even as studies in 19 states have shown that a strong school library media program helps students learn more and score higher on standardized tests. At the forefront of the effort to raise awareness of these challenges has been the Washington Coalition for School Libraries and Information Technology.

The founders of the coalition, Lisa Layera Brunkan, Denette Hill and Susan McBurney, known as the “Spokane Moms,” will discuss their grassroots efforts, that have raised $4 million for school libraries in Washington state. They are scheduled to appear at this year’s ALA Advocacy Institute, titled “School Libraries in Crisis: Why Everyone Should Care,” taking place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, June 27, in Grand Ballroom E/F at the Hyatt Regency Orange County.

Libraries also face challenges in serving non-English-speaking populations. A survey conducted by the ALA’s Office for Research & Statistics showed that the majority of libraries serving non-English speakers are in communities with fewer than 100,000 residents. In addition, the study showed that literacy and lack of knowledge of library services are significant barriers for non-English speakers.

“The strength of our nation has always come from the diversity of its people,” said Loriene Roy, ALA president. “As places of opportunity, libraries provide free and equal access to everyone regardless of age and background. Through their work designing collections and services, libraries are leveling the playing field when it comes to access to information.”

During the ALA President’s Program, “Supporting Native Children’s English and Native Language Literacy, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on June 29, Roy will will examine the importance of early literacy and service to patrons of diverse backgrounds. Special guests include Roy Boney, Jr., a Cherokee digital animation/claymation artist; educators from tribal schools; Mary Haggerty from Boston’s WGBH-FM; and Head Start educators from the Pueblo of Taos in New Mexico.

The President’s Program is just one of many events featuring fascinating guests and speakers.

Ron Reagan, journalist and television news correspondent, will keynote the Opening General Session from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on June 29. Reagan will discuss what’s ahead for the ever-shifting political horizon, as well as his work on behalf the stem cell research and with the Creative Coalition, a non-profit, non-partisan social and political advocacy organization.

From 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on June 29, the fourth annual Book Cart Drill Team World Championship will take place with librarians and library workers from across the country dressed in costume and performing choreographed dance routines that feature their book carts. Last year’s winners were The Book Divas from Cy-Fair Independent School District in Houston.

Libraries Build Communities, a daylong community service effort taking place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, June 27, will feature conference attendees volunteering at various locations across Anaheim. Duties will include inventory, cataloging and catalog repairing, updating books and archiving, at elementary, middle and high schools as well as community service groups throughout the area.

The conference will close with famed actress Diahann Carroll from 11 a.m. to noon on July 1. Carroll will discuss her new book, “The Legs Are the Last to Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying, Mothering, and Other Things I Learned Along the Way,” as well as what it’s like to be an aging star in Hollywood and how it feels to be an icon.

The conference will also offer more than 300 programs and will feature a variety of newsmakers and best-selling authors, including author Don Borchert; author T.B. Brazelton, MD; writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell; actress/author Jamie Lee Curtis; author James Frey; author Khaled Hosseini; author Vernon. E. Jordan, Jr.; author Dean Koontz; author/philanthropist Greg Mortenson; and astronaut Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy.

The ALA, the oldest and largest library association in the world, holds its Annual Conference each June. More than 20,000 librarians, educators, writers, publishers, Friends of libraries, trustees and special guests, attend the conference. It includes more than 2,000 meetings, discussion groups, programs on various topics affecting libraries and librarians as well as tours and special events.

Approximately 700 exhibiting companies feature the latest in books, videos, computers and other materials vital to today's libraries, librarians and their users.
For more information on the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif., please visit www.ala.org/annual. For advance media registration, please contact Macey Morales, ALA media relations, mmorales@ala.org or 312-280-4393. Media also may register on site, but due to high volume, advance registration is strongly recommended.