Public Library Association 12th National Conference draws thousands to Minneapolis

Contacts: Macey Morales/Jennifer <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Petersen
ALA Media Relations
312-280-4393 / 5043 <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
For Immediate Release
March 29, 2008

Public Library Association 12th National Conference draws thousands to Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS – After five days of workshops, programs and events devoted to enhancing public library service, Paula Poundstone, author and comedian, brought the Public Library Association’s (PLA) 12th National Conference to a close. Nearly 10,000 library staff, supporters, exhibitors, authors and guests descended on the Minneapolis Convention Center for various workshops and discussions that focused on key issues such as technology; serving adults; youth and new Americans; gaming in libraries; library design and collection development; often drawing standing room only crowds.

“As library use continues to rise, so does a public library’s need to stay on the forefront of new technologies,” said PLA President Jan Sanders. “From continuing education conference sessions to our first-ever Virtual Conference, librarians from across the country had an opportunity to share ideas and best practices to enhance library service to their users.

The conference offered a series of preconferences, including “Turning the Page: Building Your Library community,” a day-and-a-half long program which taught attendees how to create community partnerships, build alliances with local and regional decision makers and ultimately increase funding for their library. Turning the page, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, is primarily offered only to Opportunity Online hardware grantees, but was available free of charge to approximately 200 PLA members who attended the 12th National Conference.

In addition, approximately 80 PLA members were selected to attend a Leadership Institute preconference hosted by 3M. The event, which took place at 3M’s famed “Innovation Center,” gave attendees the opportunity to learn about developing leadership skills and fostering change within their libraries. All costs to attend the Leadership Institute were covered by 3M.

The preconference programming included a well-attended luncheon hosted by author Meg Cabot, best known for “The Princess Diaries” series. More than 600 attendees listened to Cabot discuss the importance libraries held in her childhood, as well as the influence librarians had on her life. Other preconference speakers included author and Librarian Action Figure Model Nancy Pearl in “Book Buzz,” where she lead a lively discussion on some of the best upcoming books with Virginia Stanley from HarperCollins, Talia Ross from Macmillan, Nora Rawlinson from Hachette, Emily Cook from Milkweed Editions and Marcia Purcell from Random House.

The conference opened with philanthropist and author John Wood, founder and CEO of Room to Read, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children in the developing world through the power of education. Wood discussed the inspiration for his organization and his grand vision to provide educational access to 10 million children in the developing world through his inspirational and novel approach to non-profit management. This year, Room to Read will open 1,600 local libraries, a rate on par with that of Starbuck’s. “If the world needs a new latte,” Wood observed, “it damn well needs a new library.”

The conference also hosted the Authors Readers Theatre (A.R.T.), which included 2003 Newbery award winner, Avi, “Crispin: The Cross of Lead”; Pam Munoz Ryan, “When Marian Sang”; 2008 Caldecott award winner Brian Selznick, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”; and Sarah Weeks, “So B It.” A.R.T. followed the tradition of the readers/actors standing on stage and reading from prepared scripts. The authors participated in two performances, both receiving standing ovations and cheers from the audience members.

The Best In Mystery Authors Revealed! program gave conference goers a sneak peek into the plots written by today’s premier mystery authors. Participants included T. Jefferson Parker, author, “L.A. Outlaws”; C.J. Box, author, “Blue Heaven”; Linwood Barclay, author, “No Time for Goodbye”; Karen Rose, author, “Scream for Me”; and Laura Lippman, author, “Another Thing To Fall.”

Best-selling travel experts and Authors Arthur Frommer and daughter Pauline Frommer spoke to a crowd of more than 700 attendees. Mr. Frommer stated that his boyhood public library was his town’s “only cultural outlet, and it was there I began traveling in my mind.” The Frommers also shared various tips and recommendations for traveling overseas and within the U.S. on a budget.

Children’s Author Luncheon keynote speakers, award-winning author Pat Mora and illustrator Raúl Colón, collaborators on children’s favorites, “Doña Flor” and “Tomás and the Library Lady,” discussed the inspirations behind their work as well as the importance of librarians’ optimistic nature in front of a packed ballroom. Mora stated that she was happy to be addressing “a room full of people who care about people and families.”

Other conference speakers included: novelist Louise Erdrich; best-selling author Jacqueline Winspear; actor, screenwriter and audiobook narrator Scott Brick; and Books on Tape Executive Producer Dan Musselman.

New to the conference this year was the first-ever PLA Virtual Conference. Those who were not able to attend the conference in Minnesota had an opportunity to join their colleagues via the Web. Nearly 200 online subscribers participated in such activities as live, interactive Webcasts and workshops; online poster sessions; access to handouts and other presentation materials; and both general and subject-focused discussion boards.

The conference also served as a backdrop for the release of a ground-breaking new study on library service to non-English speakers. “Serving Non-English Speakers: 2007 Analysis of Library Demographics, Services and Programs,” conducted by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Research and Statistics, was released during a press conference at the Hennepin County Public Library. The study provides information on library services and programs developed for non-English speakers, including effectiveness of services, barriers to library use, most frequently used services, and most successful library programs by language served. Press conference participants included ALA President Loriene Roy; PLA President Jan Sanders; Hennepin Country Public Library Director Amy Ryan; and Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat.

The best-selling items in the PLA were PLA Conference T-shirts, coffee mugs and READ tote bags. National Library Week items were also a big hit. The store sold out of “Strategic Planning for Results,” by Sandra Nelson. “Every Child Ready to Read” merchandise was also popular. Parents, teachers and others can continue to find many of these bestsellers, including celebrity READ posters online at

The conference offered access to 800 exhibiting companies including top book publishers, who showcased the latest in products and services for public libraries and their users.

To learn more about the largest association devoted to public libraries, please visit To reach PLA, please contact ALA Media Relations Manager Macey Morales at 312-280-4393 or Jennifer Petersen at 312-280-5043.

The PLA 13th National Conference will be held in Portland, Ore. March 23 - 27, 2010.


Minneapolis 2008

Attendees 6,772

Virtual Conference registrants 175

Exhibitors 2,863

Total 9,810

Boston 2006
Attendees 8,459
Exhibitors 2,570
Total 11,029

Seattle 2004
Attendees 6,419
Exhibitors 2,272
Total 8,691