Magazine article American Libraries

Shadows of War Loom over Chicago

Magazine article American Libraries

Shadows of War Loom over Chicago

Article excerpt

ALA's Midwinter Meeting, held Jan. 12-17 in Chicago, began as American Libraries went to press. The March issue will carry complete coverage, including news, photos, and reports on candidates for ALA president, Council, and Executive Board.

The shadow of war in the Middle East reached the corridors, meeting rooms, and lounges of six Chicago hotels as ALA's Midwinter Meeting began on Jan. 12. On that day, both houses of Congress voted to authorize the President to use military force if Iraqi troops weren't withdrawn from Kuwait by Jan. 15.

Talk of recession-expected to be a Midwinter motif-and the snowstorm that snarled travel plans for hundreds faded in importance. So did the buoyancy created by a record advance registration, and the anticipation-of Newbery and Caldecott announcements, actress Glenn Close's appearance, and meetings with old friends.

"These are fateful times," said Senator Albert Gore, speaking to a large President's Program audience in the Chicago Hilton's Grand Ballroom. Indeed. Flanking the rostrum as the Tennessee Democrat spoke, some 18 solemn protestors carried signs with messages such as THE DEAD CAN'T READ and WHY DID YOU VOTE FOR WAR SENATOR GORE?

Many ALAers, including President Richard M. Dougherty, who invited Gore to speak on the National Research and Education Network (NREN), had thought events might force the senator to remain in Washington. In fact, Gore's arrival at the meeting was uncertain until he stepped into the United terminal at O'Hare.

Speaking briefly with the protestors as he entered the ballroom, it was clear the Persian Gulf-not NREN-would be the focus of his address. Of his decision to vote yes to authorize war, Gore said, "I felt ... I would support the alternative of sanctions." Then more softly he added, "Deep down, deep down, I came to believe that faith in sanctions was mainly wishful thinking."

The apprehension in the audience was palpable and the senator felt it, noting that just as the Senate was divided on the issue, so was the nation.

Travel travail:

Vintage Chicago weather began to afflict the eastern half of the country three days before the meeting's official start. By Jan. 11, the first day of registration, snow was accumulating rapidly. O'Hare Airport closed for several hours causing delays for travelers across the country.

Exhibitors arriving to set up displays, parties, and business meetings found themselves delayed and diverted. Baker & Taylor's Mary Shapiro wound up unexpectedly in Cleveland. Librarian Charles Myers, of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., drove an hour through heavy snow to reach the airport, only to book two successive flights that were canceled. …

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