Youth Media Awards, Al Gore speech highlight ALA Midwinter Meeting

Contact: Steve Zalusky

Manager of Communications,

ALA Public Information Office

(312) 280-1546


For Immediate Release

January 19, 2010

BOSTON - Librarians gathered to discuss major issues affecting them - including budget cuts in tough economic times and how libraries provide services in a changing information environment - at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting, held Jan. 15-19 in Boston.

But they also focused on the role of libraries, and the world in general, in an atmosphere of rampant climate change during a lecture featuring former Vice President Al Gore. And librarians also showed how they can make a difference, stepping up to make their contribution to the relief effort in Haiti.

In addition, the Midwinter Meeting celebrated the best of the best in children's and young adult literature during the annual Youth Media Awards.

Total attendance was 11,095 (including 8,526 members and 2,569 exhibitors) beat last year's total of 10,220 for the Midwinter Meeting in Denver (which drew 7,905 members and 2,315 exhibitors) but fell short of the 2008 tally from Philadelphia of 13,601 (10,533 and 3,068).

Those attending responded strongly to the request of ALA and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) for donations to help relieve the humanitarian crisis in Haiti. On Monday, ALA and MCCA announced a joint donation of $27,084.50 to directly support relief efforts in Haiti.

The effort was set up in less than 24 hours by the two groups after the deadly earthquake on Jan. 12. Donations were made by many of the 11,000 attendees at the ALA 2010 Midwinter Meeting in Boston over the weekend, and were matched in kind by the MCCA. Massachusetts State Representative Linda Dorcena Forry, the second Haitian-American to be elected to state office in Massachusetts, received the donation on behalf of the local Haitian community.

Several members of our staff lost family in the earthquake," said James E, Rooney, Executive Director of the MCCA. "We wanted to respond with immediate humanitarian support, and helping ALA attendees to respond individually doubled these efforts."

Boston is home to the third largest community of Haitians outside of Haiti. "ALA has a long history of helping libraries rebuild after natural disasters," said ALA President Dr. Camila Alire. "But being able to donate personally to relief efforts while in Boston has a special poignancy. We are proud to be working with the MCCA in promoting these efforts."

The crisis in Haiti was addressed by former vice-president Gore during his appearance as the featured speaker during the Arthur Curley Memorial Lecture. Taking a break from prepared remarks, Gore said, "One of the secrets of the human condition is that suffering binds us together."

Gore talked about his new book, "Our Choice," which he described as an effort to focus on the solutions to the climate crisis. He praised librarians, calling them the stewards of that great institution that was created during the Enlightenment, a time when the printing press helped spawn what he called a democratization of information, a "new information ecosystem".

However, Gore said the rise of broadcasting has produced a "refeudalization" of that ecosystem, citing the example of big tobacco's public relations campaign to delay action against the harmful effects of smoking.

Gore was among several newsmakers and authors who appeared at Midwinter. The ALA President's Program featured Yohannes Gebregeorgis, founder and executive director of Ethiopia Reads, which encourages a love of reading by establishing children's and youth libraries in Ethiopia.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller "Eat, Pray, Love," provided one of the highlights as one of the Sunrise Speakers. Gilbert thanked librarians. "I learned to read in a library. I had my first kiss in a library, and hopefully my last will be, too." She also said that she wrote her first two books in the New York Public Library.

Other meeting highlights included the ALA/ERT Author Forum, which carried the theme, "From Book to Big Screen". A distinguished panel of authors discussed their experiences of seeing their best-selling books become movies. At this year's forum, guests included Eric Van Lustbader, the author of many bestselling thrillers, including the New York Times bestsellers "The Testament" and "The Ninja"; Chuck Hogan, author of several acclaimed novels, including "The Standoff" and "Prince of Thieves"; Tracy Chevalier is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels, including "Girl With A Pearl Earring" and "Burning Bright"; and Julie Powell, who in 2002 embarked on an ambitious yearlong cooking (and blogging) expedition through all 524 recipes in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".

In addition to Gilbert, the Sunrise Speaker Series showcased such accomplished authors as Atul Gawande, M.D., "Better, A Surgeon's Notes on Performance" and Adriana Trigiani, "Very Valentine".

The powerful role of librarians in shaping the lives of young readers was highlighted at the Youth Media Awards announcements.

"When You Reach Me," written by Rebecca Stead, was named the 2010 Newbery Medal winner. "The Lion & the Mouse," illustrated and written by Jerry Pinkney, earned the 2010 Caldecott Medal. The Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults went to "Going Bovine," written by Libba Bray.

On the day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults was given out. It went to "Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal," written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. "My People," illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr., was the King Illustrator Book winner.

A brand new award was also launched. The Coretta Scott King - Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement went to Walter Dean Myers. The award pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children's author Virginia Hamilton. Myers' books include: "Amiri & Odette: A Love Story," "Fallen Angels," "Monster" and "Sunrise Over Fallujah."

For the other winners and honorees, visit:

Monday's Youth Media Awards, held at the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting in Boston, generated extensive media coverage. ALA President Camila Alire appeared on NBC-TV's The Today Show on Tuesday morning with Newbery Medal winner Rebecca Stead and Caldecott Medal winner Jerry Pinkney. View the segment at:

Media outlets all over the country carried the names of YMA award winners . In addition, more than 6500 people logged on to view the YMA webcast. Also, 1900 people logged on to learn the ALA YMA results via Twitter and nearly 1000 Facebook fans followed the results.

Other book award ceremonies were held during Midwinter. The Stonewall Book Awards Committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table announced the Stonewall Book Awards for 2010. The committee selected "The Vast Fields of Ordinary," a story about a gay Midwestern teenager about to enter college, to receive the first children's and young adult literature award.

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association announced its 2010 winners, which included the thriller "Buying Time," by Pamela Samuels Young, the winner in the Fiction category.

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) also announced its selections for the best in adult books and media at its Midwinter Book and Media Awards Reception.

ALA President Camila Alire presented "Advocacy on the Front Lines: How to Make A Difference from Where you Sit," which drew a standing room only crowd.

The ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom launched ALA's new privacy initiative, Choose Privacy Week, with an event that focused on the age of "peep culture," featuring Hal Niedzviecki, author of "The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors." The campaign invites library users into a national conversation about privacy rights in a digital age. ALA's efforts will culminate in the first-ever Choose Privacy Week, which will take place May 2-8, 2010 and will be an ongoing education and awareness initiative similar to Banned Books Week.

The ALA Washington Office and the Office of Library Advocacy also sponsored an interactive session in which librarians and advocates discussed how to get involved and some tools to use.

ALA's Office for Library Advocacy and the Massachusetts Library Association co-sponsored an Advocacy Institute Workshop entitled "Surviving in a Tough Economy." It featured an address by past ALA President Carol A. Brey-Casiano, who said libraries have to react quickly when facing budget cuts, noting that local politicians often expect librarians not to talk back. "It is not the job of the library to balance the overall budget of the city," she said.

In a key decision, the American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) Board of Directors voted to formally adopt the title "School Librarian". According to the board, this term best exemplified the many hats most school librarians have to wear while plying their trade.

ALA Past President Betty J. Turock donated $100,000 on behalf of her family as part of the 2010 Spectrum Presidential Initiative, which began in 2009 with the goal of raising $1 million for the Spectrum Scholarship Program, ALA's national diversity and recruitment effort.

In addition, The American Library Association (ALA) received a $750,000 two year grant extension from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to continue "The American Dream Starts @ your library". This new round of funding will help 70 public libraries in Dollar General communities expand their literacy services for adult English language learners.

To be eligible, the applicant institution must be a public library or a public library with a bookmobile providing literacy services for adult English language learners, and must be within 20 miles of a Dollar General Store, distribution center, or corporate office. Each funded library will receive a onetime $5,000 grant. To learn more about the American Dream Starts @ your library, the mini grants and to apply online, please visit:

And the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Association and the ALA announced $1,522,122 in grants to 19 recipients as a part of the Smart investing @ your library initiative, which is administered jointly by FINRA and RUSA and funds libraries that assist Americans in managing their day-to-day finances and navigate complex financial decisions.

Midwinter also featured a forum for the candidates for ALA president and treasurer. Molly Raphael and Sara Kelly Johns are running for president, while Alan Kornblau and James Neal are vying for treasurer.