Ask any librarian who was there and they will almost certainly agree: the 2015 American Library Association Annual Conference in San Francisco was one of the best ALA shows, maybe ever. With a historic Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality issued just hours before the official start of the event on June 26, the conference could not have kicked off with a more timely keynote speaker. Author and gay rights lawyer Roberta Kaplan delivered a deeply personal, moving speech exactly two years after the day the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)—a landmark gay-rights victory that Kaplan successfully argued, and that she writes about in her new book, Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA. And on Sunday, some librarians marched in an especially joyous 2015 annual San Francisco Pride Parade.
Other highlights included talks by feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem, who told conference goers that librarians saved her life. And a day after President Barack Obama gave a stirring eulogy in South Carolina for slain pastor Clementa Pinckney, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction was awarded to Bryan Stevenson for his book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. At a packed reception, Stevenson gave a memorable speech on race and social justice that brought many librarians in attendance to tears, and eventually to their feet. Anthony Doerr, meanwhile, won the Carnegie Medal for Fiction, for his book All the Light We Cannot See. Doerr also gave a powerful speech and earned a standing ovation.
Some 845 companies were on hand to exhibit at the event this year. With 22,696 total attendees, attendance was up roughly 13% from the 19,889 that attended last year in Las Vegas. Exhibitor attendance was roughly flat.*
To read PW’s extensive coverage of ALA 2015, visit our website and click on the Libraries tab at the top of the page.
*Correction: early attendance reports from ALA had transposed the 2013 attendance figures with this year's attendance.