11,000 attend ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Antonio

Contacts: Larra Clark, Macey Morales

ALA Media Relations

For Immediate Release

January 24, 2006

11,000 attend ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Antonio

School librarian classification, dues increase, literary awards top agenda

SAN ANTONIO – More than 11,000 librarians and other library staff, publishers and guests gathered in San Antonio to attend the American Library Association's (ALA) Midwinter Meeting, January 20-25, to discuss issues and concerns affecting the profession and millions of library users nationwide. The conference concludes January 25 with a national call-in effort with library leaders simultaneously phoning members of Congress at 10 a.m. as part of a nationwide grassroots effort to repair the USA PATRIOT Act.

Attendees at the annual business meeting participated in discussions regarding library education, advocacy strategies, funding for school libraries, new technology, copyright and legislation affecting libraries. The Midwinter Meeting also hosted the “Academy Awards of children's literature,” ALA's youth media awards. More than 2,500 meetings and events were held.

The ALA Council addressed the so-called “65 percent solution” January 23 by calling for a coordinated national effort to classify school librarians as instructional staff and to recognize the impact of state-certified school librarians on student achievement. More than 60 research studies have found there is a clear link between well-staffed school libraries and increased student achievement.

The “65 percent solution” being considered in many states would mandate that 65 percent of school funding be spent on “direct classroom instruction” – as defined by categories established more than 30 years ago by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Despite the vital role school librarians play as teachers and collaborators with classroom teachers, NCES definition still classifies school librarians as support staff. As a result, school libraries and librarians are in danger of being eliminated in every state that passes the “65 percent solution.”

The ALA Council also approved a proposal to increase personal membership dues on the ALA spring ballot. The increase would support the association's new strategic plan ALA Ahead to 2010.

ALA President Michael Gorman hosted two programs focused on education for librarians. A forum on librarian education January 20 brought a full house of library practitioners, educators and students to explore the big issues in library education, including. “What is the nature of the profession of librarianship, and what does the 21st-century librarian need to know ?” The conversation continued January 22 with author and commentator Andrei Codrescu for a program entitled “The Future of Our Profession: Educating Tomorrow's Librarians.”

The ALA offered its first live Webcast of the announcement of the best books for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, King, Newbery and Printz Awards – January 23. The Webcast hosted more than 47,000 visitors. This year also marked the premier of the “Dr. Seuss” Award, which honors both the author and illustrator of an outstanding book for beginning readers, and the 10 th anniversary of the Pura Belpré Award, which honors Latino writers and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in a work of literature for youth. For a complete list of award winners, please visit

School librarians from around the country took a page from the playbook of San Antonio Northside Independent School District (2004 AASL School Library Media Program of the Year Award winner) as part of a Library Media Best Practices Institute. And young adult librarians discussed teens and technology , including IM, blogs and wikis. Participants explored how teen gamers are reading, writing, and seeking out information using technology; ethical issues related to teen use of these technologies in the library and on their own; and how library staff can incorporate these technologies in their services and programs.

Nearly 500 people attended the seventh annual Arthur Curley Memorial Lecture featuring ragtime composer and pianist Reginald R. Robinson, winner of a 2004 MacArthur “genius grant.”

The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Generally held in January, the association holds an annual ALA Midwinter Meeting. The Meeting draws more than 10,000 leaders in the library and information industry. Some 425 exhibits feature the latest in books, videos, computers and other materials available to today's libraries and their users.

For more information regarding ALA Midwinter Meeting programs, please visit
www.ala.org/midwinter. ALA will meet next at its Annual Conference in New Orleans, June 22 to 28, and Seattle will host the 2007 Midwinter Meeting.