USA PATRIOT Act, technology, library funding cuts top agenda at ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, June 23 to 29

Contact: Larra Clark, Elizabeth Morgan

ALA Media Relations

312/280-5043, -1546
For Immediate Release

June 20, 2005

USA PATRIOT Act, technology, library funding cuts top agenda

at ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, June 23 to 29

(CHICAGO) Libraries are more critical than ever in leveling the playing field in accessing information online, according to a new report from the American Library Association (ALA) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will be released at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. More than 20,000 librarians, library workers, authors and guests are expected to attend the world’s largest library gathering, June 23 to 29.

The ALA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will kick off the conference with the release of a new national study on Internet connectivity in U.S. public libraries at the Chicago Public Library, Thursday, June 23, at 11:45 a.m.

In the wake of House approval of limitations on sections of the USA PATRIOT Act, the topic will be at the forefront of the library conference. Senator Obama will address the issue in his remarks at the Opening General Session, Saturday, June 25, at 5:30 p.m. And Peter Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the North District of Illinois, and Colleen Connell, ACLU of Illinois Executive Director, will debate the issue Monday, June 27, following an 8 a.m. screening of "Unconstitutional," a feature-length documentary about the PATRIOT Act.

Other critical issues to be addressed include: library funding cuts of at least $111 million as of April, state legislative efforts to restrict access to gay and lesbian books, Googlization, outreach to a growing Spanish-speaking population, and the future roles of libraries as a physical place in an increasingly electronic age.

Actor, producer, author and activist Henry Winkler will keynote the Closing General Session Tuesday, June 28, at 8 a.m. He is among more than a hundred authors speaking and signing during the conference, including humorist David Sedaris, Pulitzer-Prize winner Seymour Hersh, U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, award-winning young adult author Francesca Lia Block, Newbery Award-winner Cynthia Kadohata, Coretta Scott King Award winner Kadir Nelson and librarian action figure model and "Book Lust" author Nancy Pearl.