Goodbye, Orlando?


The American Library Association's (ALA) Annual Conference, June 24–30, in steamy Orlando, drew 19,575 people, including 5,739 exhibitors, the lowest total since Miami in 1994, not counting the SARS-shadowed conference in Toronto last year...

The threat of a dues increase, and attendant fear of membership losses, hovered in the Orlando air. ALA has a revenue problem. It was heard at sessions of the ALA Executive Board and in the reports of the treasurer and the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) to both the board and the Council. BARC warned that ALA might end the current fiscal year with revenues $1.2 million below budget. The current budget—just under $49 million—could not include the $50,000 to print the ALA Handbook, a much-criticized plan that is likely to be reversed.

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Orlando was my second ALA conference (my first was Toronto). I enjoyed them both very much, maybe just because I hadn't been to either city before and thought of it more as a mini-vacation than work.The weather in Orlando was unpleasant but you have to expect that of pretty much everywhere in the south or midwest in June. Events were spread out and not much was within walking distance but I felt it was much the same in Toronto. I had to make some decisions about what I would attend and for how long and it was tough, but I'm not sure switching cities would solve the problem.

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