Thousands attend ALA/CLA joint conference in Toronto

Contact: Larra Clark, Press Officer/Paige Wasson, PR Assistant


For Immediate Release

June 25, 2003

Thousands attend ALA/CLA joint conference in Toronto

The American Library Association (ALA)/Canadian Library Association (CLA) joint Annual Conference in Toronto, the
world’s largest and most comprehensive library conference and exhibition, was host to more than 17,500 librarians,
library support staff, exhibitors, educators, writers, publishers and special guests.
It was the first time in 40 years that CLA and ALA
convened together in Canada.

“We’re thrilled that such a large number of people turned out for the conference.
We had so many exciting speakers and programs that brought colleagues from both sides of the border together,” said ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels.
“We had a wonderful and productive time with our Canadian counterparts in a beautiful and welcoming city.
In a time when so many libraries are facing funding cuts, it’s great that so many librarians turned out.”

As part of the
Auditorium Speaker Series Gloria Steinem spoke to a standing-room-only crowd and described librarians as the democratizers of knowledge and champions of intellectual freedom.

During an inaugural ball and banquet, Carla Hayden, executive director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, became president of ALA.
She will serve a one-year term. Hayden’s presidency will focus on equity of access in libraries, one of the core values of ALA.

More than 300 librarians,
library support staff, publishers and guests attended discussion programs to discuss the topics and themes of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” as part of “One Book, One Conference.”
The initiative culminated with an enthusiastic crowd at Atwood’s appearance at the Public Library Association (PLA) President’s Program.

Freedom of information and advocating for libraries and librarians were important and timely topics during the conference with several programs making it their focus, including:

  • “Managing Libraries in an Age of Terrorism: A Forum on the USA PATRIOT Act” which featured Lee Strickland, CIA, who discussed the basics of the Act and Deborah Caldwell Stone, Office of Intellectual Freedom, who suggest ways for libraries to prepare themselves for possible law enforcement inquiries.
  • Rep. Bernie Sanders (V-I) thanked librarians for helping educate him about the importance of the PATRIOT Act.
  • Ralph Nader discussed the D.C. Library Renaissance Project and his work to help raise awareness of the steady decline of the D.C. Library system at the ALA’s President’s Program.
    He drew a packed and enthusiastic crowd.

Several authors were also honored at banquets, including the winners of the Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal, Coretta Scott King Awards and the Printz Award.