PLA's symposium draws nearly 800 library professionals

Contact: Kathleen Hughes

PLA Manager Communications

For Immediate Release

March 24, 2005

PLA's symposium draws nearly 800 library professionals

CHICAGO - Over 780 library professionals gathered in Chicago for the Public Library Association's (PLA) Tenth Spring Symposium, which was held March 7-9, 2005, at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago.

"Participants enjoyed the opportunities that the Spring Symposium offers including exposure to an array of exciting programming, stimulating speakers, and plenty of opportunities to meet and share ideas with colleagues from across the country,” said PLA President Clara N. Bohrer. “I'm confident that those who attended gained practical knowledge, networked with fellow members, and left the Symposium with lots of new ideas to implement in their libraries."

Comments from participants ranged from 'very interesting and inspiring' to 'session exceeded my expections.'

The symposium began with an Opening General Session, on Monday, March 7,

which featured noted author Alex Kotlowitz. Kotlowitz began his speech by paying tribute to librarians, noting how he admired them for being "custodians” of our nation's stories. He also spoke of how his own writing is fueled by the desire "to tell history from the perspective of the bottom up, from the losing end," and related some of his favorite stories. He also took questions from the audience and then signed copies of his books.

This year's symposium featured a new and improved schedule with a variety of full day and half-day programs from which to choose. Programming began on Monday afternoon and included a "track" for library assistants, with programming developed by the Illinois Library Association and "Reaching Forward, a forum for Library Assistants."

Other workshop topics included: Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library; Finding Oz: Discovering a Bright Future for Libraries; Preserving the Future: Sustainable Libraries; Readers' Advisory: Fiction; Choices, Choices, Choices; Millennial Users: Different. You Bet; How to Develop and Deliver a Powerful Message for Your Library; Building a Library Marketing Communication Plan; Creating Policies for Results; Beyond HTML: Dynamic Websites Deconstructed; and Readers Advisory: Nonfiction.

The symposium also featured an author luncheon with writer Lawrence Block, who amused the gathering by admitting that he had little idea what to talk about, confessing, "I feel like the guy who married Madonna. I know what I'm supposed to do but I don't know how to make it interesting for you." Block guided the audience through the evolution of his Matthew Scudder series, from its origins to his most recent novel, "All the Flowers are Dying," and then took questions from the audience. Block also chatted with attendees and signed copies of his books after his presentation.

A PLA bookstore and daily networking breakfast rounded out this year's symposium. In addition, PLA Gold Partner and sponsor of the symposium, BWI, was on hand to showcase their products and services for attendees.

This year, nearly half of the symposium attendees were from out of state, with participants from as far away as Hawaii, and international guests from Mexico, Canada, and Bermuda. The attendance figure was on par with registration figures from the association's last spring symposium, which was held in March of 2003.

Upcoming PLA continuing education opportunities include programming at ALA conferences; the first-ever PLA Boot Camp - A Five-Day Immersion Program; a one-day New Managing for Results Workshop; and the upcoming Eleventh National Conference," PLA 2006," which will be held March 21-25, 2006, in Boston. Visit the PLA blog ( for photos and highlights from the 2005 Spring Symposium and visit for news and updates.