Public Library Association Conference draws thousands to Philadelphia

For Immediate Release
Tue, 03/20/2012

Contact:

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

PHILADELPHIA – More than 8,700 library staff, supporters, exhibitors, authors and guests from across the country attended the Public Library Association’s (PLA) 2012 Conference in Philadelphia to discuss various issues that impact U.S. public libraries and their users. Dedicated solely to meeting the interests of public librarians, the conference has a reputation for excellence, making it one of the most popular and successful events in the public library world.

The conference featured five full-day and six half-day preconference programs, several educational tours, more than 180 top-quality continuing education programs, author events and nearly 400 exhibiting companies.

“As society continues to change the way it consumes information, libraries are on the front lines when it comes to adopting new technologies,” said PLA president Marcia Warner, director of the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Public Library. “The PLA Conference offers librarians from across the nation an opportunity to discuss the changing nature of public libraries and their evolving role in the communities they serve.”

Conference attendees had access to many programs and discussions on various hot-button issues facing their libraries today, such as emerging technologies, e-books and digital rights management. Some of the more well attended/popular programs included “Getting eContent to Your Customers: Challenges, Best Practices and Solutions”; “The State of E-books in Public Libraries and Publishing”; “Emerging Technologies in Public Libraries”; and “Libraries, Multimedia and Technology” among others.

A longtime conference favorite, author and librarian action figure model Nancy Pearl once again presented “Book Buzz,” highlighting some of the best upcoming books for adults along with a panel of premier publishers. Due to the popularity of this program, a new event was created featuring publishers of books for children and young adults called “Book Buzz Junior.” This debut program was moderated by author Liz Burns (“A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy”).

The conference also included a sold out luncheon with Pearl, in which she introduced her new project with Amazon Publishing, “Book Lust Rediscoveries,” a series devoted to reprinting some of the best (and now out of print) novels originally published between 1960 and 2000.

Opening the conference was environmental business leader, advocate and author Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  No stranger to advocacy and fighting for the future of something he values, Kennedy’s discussion outlined current environmental problems and their possible solutions. His entertaining speech also provoked attendees to examine ways in which they could move from carbon-based energy to renewable resources. His efforts offer an inspiring parallel for library professionals trying to evolve and sustain their own resources.

The conference also hosted a series of entertaining author events featuring best-selling adult, young adult and children’s authors David Baldacci (“Absolute Power”), Ally Carter, (Gallagher Girls series), Joyce Carol Oates (“We Were the Mulvaneys”) and Jerry Pinkney (“Gulliver’s Travels”).  PLA also played host to the Audio Publishers Association Dinner which featured authors Carl Hiaasen (“Hoot”), Lisa Scottoline (Rosato & Associates series), Karen Slaughter (“Beyond Reach”) and narrator Wanda McCaddon.

This year, the PLA Career Center featured a bulletin board area where libraries and recruiters were able to post notices of available jobs, as well as tables and private interview spaces. The Career Center also offered a one-on-one resume review program staffed with library professionals experienced in hiring.

Bringing the PLA conference to close was actor and comedian Betty White. The Emmy winner is also an outspoken animal advocate and author of seven books including her most recent “Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo.” White had the standing room only audience laughing throughout her interview with PLA staff member Brendan Dowling. She shared charming and heartwarming stories of her passion for animals as well as her history as both a writer and performer. She drew applause from the audience when she emphasized the importance of libraries as foundations for learning.

New to the conference this year was the first ever PLA Unconference. This participant-driven event featured conference attendees sharing ideas, presenting brief discussions and networking with other attendees with similar interests.

Those who were not able to attend the conference in Philadelphia had an opportunity to attend online through the PLA Virtual Conference, held March 15 – 16. The Virtual Conference included five live, hour-long programs each day and special events such as daily author interviews, audio poster sessions featuring PowerPoint presentations, Web tours with audio narration and opportunities for networking. The 136 Virtual Conference registrants (87 single and 49 group registrations) will also have access to archived programming for one year after the event.

The best-selling items in the PLA Store were READ bags, books such as “Be a Great Boss: One Year to Success,” by Catherine Hakala-Ausperk, “The Black Belt Librarian: Real-World Safety & Security,” by Warren Graham and tea mugs. The store sold out of the new Mo Willems poster and book mark, as well as Hunger Games items. Parents, teachers and others can continue to find many of these bestsellers, including celebrity READ posters online at www.alastore.ala.org.

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 more information on the Public Library Association, please visit http://www.pla.org, or contact Jennifer Petersen, PLA’s PR coordinator at 312-280-5043, jpetersen@ala.org.

The PLA 15th biennial Conference will be held in Indianapolis, March 11 – 15, 2014.
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*** CONFERENCE TOTALS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

Philadelphia
Attendees: 6,127
Virtual Conference Registrants: 136 (87 single, 49 groups)
Exhibitors:  2,502
Total: 8,765

Portland 2010
Attendees: 5,288
Virtual Conference Registrants: 117
Exhibitors: 2,320
Total: 7,725

Minneapolis 2008
Attendees: 6,772
Virtual Conference registrants: 175
Exhibitors: 2,863
Total: 9,810

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