Philadelphia host to national discussions on future of public libraries

For Immediate Release
Tue, 03/06/2012

Contact:

Jennifer Petersen
PR Coodinator
Public Information Office (PIO)
jpetersen@ala.org

As library use increases, so does need for new technologies

CHICAGO - In the age of the Internet, emerging technologies have transformed public libraries into crucial technology hubs that millions rely on as their first or only choice for Internet access. As our society continues to change the way it consumes information, public libraries have proven to be indispensable to their communities as they work to meet the needs of increasingly tech-savvy patrons.

During this dynamic time of change, thousands of public librarians, library professionals, authors, publishers and vendors from across the country and around the world will meet in Philadelphia, March 13 – 17, for the Public Library Association (PLA) 2012 Conference to discuss a host of pressing issues affecting the future of public libraries, such as access to e-book lending, library funding, new technologies and advocacy.

“The demand for library services has increased significantly in past years,” said PLA President Marcia Warner. “With the growing need for access to digital and online information, libraries have evolved. Yes, they still provide traditional services, but they also continue to change by offering a wide array of new resources  and assistance to help people succeed and thrive in today’s digital world.”

According to the American Library Association’s 2010-2011 Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study, more than 74 percent of libraries offer software and other resources to help patrons create resumes and employment materials, and 72 percent of libraries report that staff helped patrons complete online job applications.

Public libraries not only provide free access to information, but also to e-books and other digital content. Over two-thirds (67.2 percent) of libraries now offer access to e-books, up 12 percent from two years ago. According to the e-book distributor OverDrive, library patrons checked out 35 million digital titles in 2011, up from 15 million circulations in 2010. Unfortunately, access to this valued resource is in jeopardy as several major publishers have decided not sell or license e-books to libraries, dramatically limiting the options available to readers.

During the PLA 2012 Conference, access to e-books and a host of other issues facing public libraries will be discussed in the more than 180 meetings, programs and events offered to conference attendees.

On, Wednesday, March 14, from 10:30 a.m. – noon, author, readers’ advisor and librarian action figure model Nancy Pearl will discuss some of the best upcoming books for adults with a panel of publishers. Pearl often speaks to library and community groups across the country and regularly recommends books on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

Later in the afternoon, visionary, environmental business leader, advocate and author, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., will present the keynote address during the Opening General Session from 2:30 – 4 p.m. No stranger to advocacy and fighting for the future of something he values, Kennedy has been named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” and one of Rolling Stone’s “100 Agents for Change.”

Bringing the conference to a close from 11:45 – 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 17 is author and actor Betty White. Best known for her television and film roles in “The Golden Girls,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Proposal” and most recently “Hot in Cleveland,” White is also an outspoken advocate for animal welfare and the author of six books including, “Here We Go Again: My Life in Television,” “If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t)” and most recently, “Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo.”

Other highlighted speakers and guests include author David Baldacci (Camel Club series); author Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls series); author Carl Hiaasen (“Hoot”); narrator Wanda McCaddon; author Joyce Carol Oates (“We Were the Mulvaneys”); illustrator Jerry Pinkney (“The Lion & The Mouse”); author Lisa Scottoline (Rosato & Associates series); and author Karin Slaughter (“Beyond Reach”).

PLA is also offering a Virtual Conference on Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16 that will include five hour-long programs each day as well as author interviews and poster sessions.

PLA is a division of the American Library Association. PLA’s core purpose is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve. Its mission is to enhance the development and effectiveness of public library staff and public library services.

For detailed program information please visit http://www.placonference.org/, or the PLA 2012 Web press kit at http://www.ala.org/news/mediapresscenter/presskits/pla2012/presskit. To schedule interviews or to register for conference press credentials, please contact Jennifer Petersen, ALA’s PR coordinator at 312-280-5043, jpetersen@ala.org.