Magazine article American Libraries

Voting with Our Feet; ALA's Return to Chicago for Annual Conference Sets Registration Record

Magazine article American Libraries

Voting with Our Feet; ALA's Return to Chicago for Annual Conference Sets Registration Record

Article excerpt

"We have very forcefully served notice on Chicago that ALA is back," Executive Director Robert Wedgeworth told the Membership during the Association's 104th Annual Conference, july 6-11. He offered these stats to prove his point: A registration total of 13,671, including 3,334 exhibitors, with an all-time high paid registration of 10,152. The old record was 9,479, set in 1980 in New York.

ALA was back--after an ERA-related boycott had triggered a seven-year absence from Illinois--and conferees took to the sunny Chicago streets, hoofing it between 15 conference hotels when they weren't riding the Gale-sponsored shuttles.

Voting with their feet for the most popular conference activities, participants came some 800 strong to President E.J. Josey's all-day program on "Forging Coalitions for the Public Good," about 400 showed for a night meeting on ALA Strategic Long-Range Planning, and the Association of College and Research Libraries drew 500 to its session on priorities, to mention a few well-attended programs.

ALA feet got a special workout the at the Annual Fun Run/Walk, at which some 500 participants broke an early-morning sweat along a lakefront park.

In conference business, a report to ALA from the Lacy Commission on Freedom and Equality of Access Information got stomped on by its first ALA critics before being received for distribution (later this year) to all interested members; automation got kicked around in sessions on how much money it doesn't save and on the unknowns of optical disk technology; South African investments embedded in ALA's endowment holdings got the boot in a move by Executive Board.

Exhibits visitors stepped on one another's toes in the crowded subterranean exhibition halls of the Hyatt; but the "action" was good for booth operators, if not for the booktable exhibitors in a less trafficked location.

At the Inaugural Banquet, incoming President Beverly P. Lynch asked, in effect, where ALA might be pointing its feet next, as she explored the profession's challenge of finding a "shared vision" of the role of libraries in society.

The following conference highlights are by four American Libraries pavement pounders, Lois Pearson, Susan Brandehoff, Gordon Flagg, and Art Plotnik. Further reports will appear next month.


Q's & A's on Lacy Report: Draft? To ALA? Of ALA?

Q. What is the Lacy Report?

A. A document, distributed to ALA Council, of some 180 typed pages from the Commission on Freedom and Equality of Access to Information, chaired by Dan Lacy of McGraw-Hill. In 1983, (then) ALA President Carol Nemeyer set up the commissions to "call national attention to problems threatening broad and equal opportunities for public access to information, including obvious questions of library support . . . to bring together a coalition of experts from many interrelated spheres to confront those problems and recommend courses of action." (From Nemeyer's introduction to the document.)

Q. Who funded the commission, and who's on it?

A. Some $40,000 in funding came from Xerox, Exxon, Gale, McGraw-Hill, and Meckler. Thomas J. Galvin is vice chair, and the 16 regular members include journalist Ben Bagdikian, author Elizabeth Janeway, and five prominent librarians.

Q. What is the nature of the document?

A. It covers a broad range of information activity, but attemps a narrow focus on access. Some of its views are consistent with ALA policy on access to information. Other views, including a permissive posture on fees, are contrary to traditional ALA stands. Specific dissenting views, notably those of Bagdikian favoring no-fee access, are included.

Q. What happened at the ALA Annual Conference?

A. At membership, a "panel" of commissioners and two critics--Eric Moon and Jeanne Isaaco--spoke to a resolution for ALA to receive the report. …

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