Contact: Keith Michael Fiels
ALA Executive Director
For Immediate Release
October 21, 2005
American Library Association to hold 2006 Annual Conference
in New Orleans
(CHICAGO) The following statement has been issued by American Library Association (ALA) President Michael Gorman:
"I am pleased to announce that we are planning to hold our 2006 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans.
"As you know, we have been following the situation in Louisiana very closely over the last two months, and have been receiving almost daily reports from local authorities on the damage and reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Last week, a delegation from ALA traveled to New Orleans to assess the situation. The delegation found that downtown, the French Quarter, and the Garden District had largely escaped flooding, and that essential services have been fully restored in those areas. They found the conference center and conference hotels bustling with hundreds of workman repairing broken windows, installing new drywall and laying new carpeting. Restaurants are reopening on a daily basis, and plans are already underway for Mardi Gras in February.
"Our primary concern, of course, must always be the health and safety of our members. Both the Louisiana Department of Public Health and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency have found no cause for concern on the part of visitors to New Orleans. By law, all of the ALA conference hotels have conducted or will soon be conducting EPA air quality audits and all restaurants must meet strict inspection requirements prior to reopening. While much publicized, health advisories regarding mold have been directed to those re-entering flooded houses.
"We realize that many sections of the city, and particularly the Ninth Ward, have suffered tragic damage, and that many New Orleans residents have lost their homes forever. If we truly care about the residents of New Orleans, however, the best thing that the association and its members can do is to go to New Orleans and lead the reconstruction by example. Our conference will help to provide the jobs and tax revenues needed if residents are to reestablish their lives and for the city to fully restore services, including library services. We speak often of how libraries build communities, and we now have chance to show the country and world that librarians build communities, too.
"I hope that you will join me in New Orleans. I am certain that we will have an extraordinarily productive and enjoyable conference, as we enjoy the welcome and celebrate the rebirth of a city we all love.
"More information on the reconstruction in New Orleans, as well as sources for further information on the health and safety issues discussed above, will follow."