Technology, literacy, privacy and advocacy key issues at ALA Annual Conference

Contact: Macey Morales
Manager, ALA PIO Media Relations
(312) 280-4393

For Immediate Release
July 2, 2008

Technology, literacy, privacy and advocacy key issues at ALA Annual Conference

CHICAGO – Attendees at the American Library
Association’s (ALA)
Annual Conference, held June 26- July 2 in Anaheim, Calif., participated
in discussions on how libraries are engines of learning, literacy and economic
development. Sessions about technology, literacy, privacy and advocacy were

According to
final figures, 22,047 librarians and library staff, exhibitors and library
supporters attended the ALA Annual Conference, held at the Anaheim
Convention Center.

Of the 22,047,
5,752 were exhibitors (4,019 who registered in advance and 1,733 on-site),
while 16,295 were attendees (11,514 registered in advance, 4,781 on-site.)

"This is
the first time ALA
has been in Southern California
since 1983, and I think attendees loved the site, the exhibits, all the
educational sessions, the networking and the beach," said Deidre Irwin
Ross, director, ALA Conference Services.

More than 300
educational programs and 2,000 committee meetings and events were held in
the following categories: Authors, Literature and Cultural Programming,
Administration and Leadership, Children and Young Adults, Research, Career
Paths and Professional Development, Collection Management and Technical
Services, Digital Information and Technologies Issues and Updates, User
Services and Transformation and Innovations.

privacy was discussed on Sunday at the panel discussion, “Privacy: Is it Time
for a Revolution?” Among the panelists was Cory Doctorow, boingboing blogger
and acclaimed science fiction writer who says we should treat personal
electronic data with the same care and respect as weapons-grade plutonium
because it is dangerous, long-lasting and, once it has been leaked, there is no
getting it back.

“Recently, heavy
users of digital media – bloggers, social media experts and online journalists
– are calling for Americans to recommit to privacy before we dive deeper into
the information age. We think librarians are poised to lead the charge,” said
Judith Krug, director of the ALA’s
Office for Intellectual Freedom.

incoming President Jim Rettig organized a session entitled “Advocating
for All Libraries: Saving the Library Ecosystem,” in which Rettig invited
members to create elements of a plan for ALA’s
advocacy initiative during his presidential year. The program was organized
by the new Office for Library Advocacy.

“What happens to
one type of library affects all of us,” Rettig said. “Library communities
around the country need to speak with a unified voice, ready to advocate for
all libraries.”

Attendees at the
conference were able to make their voices heard on Tuesday, July 1, by taking
part in Virtual Library Day on the Hill, by faxing and e-mailing
members of Congress regarding important library issues. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
the basketball legend who is also honorary chair of Library Card Sign-up
Month in September, attended and wrote his members of Congress on the
importance of library funding.

At a
pre-conference hosted by the Office for Library Advocacy, library advocates
heard the dynamic “Spokane Moms,” the leaders of a grassroots effort on
behalf of school libraries in Washington
State that resulted in an
additional $4 million in state funding.

The Spokane
Moms, Lisa Layera Brunkan, Denette Hill and Susan McBurney, also received the
2007 Crystal Apple Award from American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
President Sara Kelly Johns. Johns cited them for their “dedication to strong
school library media programs and equal access to the 21st-Century skills for
all students.”

On Saturday,
June 28, the Washington office of the ALA
delivered an update in which the major topic was reauthorization of the Library
Services and Technology Act (LSTA), the federal funding for
libraries. Those attending called for more flexibility in grant requirements.

The challenge of
attracting a diverse corps of library workers was examined at “An Endangered
Species: The Black Male Librarian,” sponsored by the Black Caucus of the
American Library Association. In 2000, according to the program notes, only 3
percent of credentialed librarians were African-American males.

Principles and
practices for effective multicultural communication was the focus of Sunday’s
PR Forum, sponsored by the PR Assembly and the Campaign for America’s
Libraries. The presentation was led by Eric Friedenwald-Fishman, creative
director/president of the Metropolitan Group, a social marketing,
PR/communication and resource development firm that has worked with library
groups all over the United States. The forum emphasized the importance of
cultural context and tailoring messages to meet specific needs and values.

got its game on Friday, June 27, with an Open Gaming Night at the Hilton
Anaheim – Disneyland Hotel, sponsored by the Verizon Foundation. Gamers packed
the room to play Rock Band, Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Sports, as well as a
number of board games. That evening, ALA 2008 President Loriene Roy
announced the first-ever Presidential Citation for Gaming.

The next day, at the ALA’s
Opening General Session, it was announced that the Verizon Foundation will
provide a $1 million grant to the ALA
that will fund an innovative project to track and measure the impact of gaming
on literacy skills and build a model for library gaming that can be offered

Foundation President Patrick Gaston said, “Gaming for learning presents a
tremendous opportunity for libraries to further literacy skills in children as
well as adults.”

said, “Through the Verizon Foundation’s gift, ALA’s
gaming for learning project will provide the library community with vital
information and resources that will model and help sustain effective gaming
programs and services.”

Attendees had
the chance to hear many speakers: radio and Internet host Ron Reagan;
actress/author Jamie Lee Curtis; civil rights leader Vernon E. Jordan Jr.;
television producer Stephen J. Cannell; astronaut Sally Ride – the first
American woman to travel into space - and research partner Tam O’Shaughnessy;
Dr. T. Berry Brazelton; and authors Greg Mortenson, Dean Koontz and Khaled

Reagan, the son of the
40th president of the United
States, delivered the keynote address at the
Opening General Session, noting that his father was a reading prodigy. He said
neighbors would gather to watch the 3-year-old Ronald Reagan read the
newspaper. “Books were never rationed in our house,” Reagan added.

Reagan analyzed
the presidential campaign and offered his insights into the character and style
of the leading candidates as well as his thoughts about the Bush
administration’s execution of the war in Iraq.

Hundreds of conference
attendees were entertained on Sunday, June 30, at the Book Cart Drill Team
World Championship, sponsored by DEMCO. News coverage of the event was extensive
with television stations throughout the country running footage from the

Sunday’s ALA
President’s Program included a claymation animation program presented by Roy
Boney Jr., Cherokee Illustrator, graphic novelist, and animator, as well as a
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Fellow, Sequoyah
Research Center,
University of Arkansas.

On Monday, actress and
author Jamie Lee Curtis delivered the keynote address at the Public Library
Association President’s Program and Awards Presentation. That day, Curtis, an
author of children’s books, read from one of her books to a gathering of

Also on Monday,
the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services organized the American Dream
Starts @ your library, which showcased libraries from throughout the country
and their collections that have been developed to meet the literacy needs of
new immigrants. Funding for the grant program was provided by the Dollar
General Foundation.

The conference closed
on Tuesday, with an address delivered by Oscar nominee Diahann Carroll, the
first African-American actress in television history to star in her own series,

companies featured the latest in books, videos, computers and other materials
vital to today's libraries, librarians and patrons.

For more detailed
information on Annual Conference events, please visit ALA’s
conference publication, ALA Cognotes at

For more
information on the ALA’s
- Annual Conference, please visit