New Orleans conference prep

Deborah Bloom
Manager, Campaign for America’s Libraries

For Immediate Release
April 5, 2006

ALA leaders visit New Orleans in preparation for Annual Conference

City readies itself for largest convention since Katrina

CHICAGO - American Library Association (ALA) President Michael Gorman, ALA President-Elect Leslie Burger, ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels and ALA Director of Conference Services Deidre Ross spent the early part of National Library Week visiting New Orleans in preparation for the ALA Annual Conference, scheduled for June 22-28.

The contingent met with representatives from the City of New Orleans and New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau to review the progress that New Orleans has made as it prepares for the arrival of over 22,000 conference attendees. Discussions focused on issues such as health, safety, transportation, accommodations and amenities.
The group also toured the Morial Convention Center to inspect the renovation and improvement projects underway there. Ross also visited a number of area hotels and met with hotel representatives.

"After this site visit, we are more convinced than ever that the decision to come to New Orleans for our annual meeting in June was the right one," said Gorman. "Everything is in place for us to have a very successful and enjoyable conference."

According to Kitty Ratcliffe, executive vice president of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, the ALA Annual Conference is the largest annual meeting the city is hosting since the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last summer. Following ALA's decision to remain in New Orleans, 16 other organizations since followed ALA's lead and have decided to bring their meetings to New Orleans in 2006.

The group met with Dr. Sandra Robinson, deputy director of Public Health for the city of New Orleans, to discuss various concerns which have been raised by members regarding health and health care issues.
Robinson reported the reopening of Tulane University's Medical Center, which increases the availability of emergency care services, and described significant improvements in the coordination of health care efforts among the area's various hospitals initiated for this year's Mardi Gras. She noted that the city is well prepared to meet any emergency and/or medical need that ALA members might have during their stay in New Orleans. Dr. Robinson reiterated recent reports emphasizing that mold was only an issue for those persons actually working in flooded homes. The group also discussed special provisions which will be put in place to guarantee ALA attendees access to the highest quality emergency and other medical care.

"We made a point of meeting Dr. Robinson because we know that our members have a number of health concerns," added Gorman. "We want to be as proactive and responsive as possible to our members on this issue as we head into the final months before the Annual Conference.
I feel confident that the city is doing everything it can to ensure that our members have a safe and productive experience."

More details on health, safety, transportation and accommodation plans discussed during the visit will be available on the ALA Website in the next week. For more information on the ALA Annual Conference, visit the ALA Website at