One of the most interesting
and informative parts of each ALA conference is the Auditorium Speakers
Series along with the opening and closing general sessions. The
Auditorium Speakers Series includes distinguished speakers who are journalists,
authors or activists. There were 10 speakers
in the series and I had the opportunity to hear 5 of them plus the
opening and closing session speakers. My dance card included Jamie
Lee Curtis, Sally Ride, Tam O’Shaughnessy, Dean Koontz, and Khaled
opening speaker was Ron Reagan, a popular political commentator and
the closing speaker was Diahann Carroll.
Each of the speakers brought great enthusiasm to the program and ideas
that are good for librarians to hear and learn about.
Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy provided an upbeat
take about science in the schools. Sally is the founder of Sally
Ride Science (http://www.sallyridescience.com)
which helps young people get engaged in science. It was particularly
interesting to learn about research that shows that boys and girls
in grades 5 through 8 are equally engaged in science. By the time
girls are in later parts of high school that has significantly changed. What
can we do about that and how can libraries encourage the continuing
interest in science? Ride has a new book series entitled Totally
Amazing Careers in Science.
Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner,
provided interesting insights into his writing process and spoke
about his commitment to speaking out about globally displaced populations
as one of the results of his writing success. He also spoke about his observation of watching the movie
being made. He described it as “the ultimate in collaboration.”
Jamie Lee Curtis was the Public Library Association
program speaker as well as part of the auditorium series. Ms. Curtis
delighted and enchanted the audience. She discussed how she became
an author of children’s books and we all enjoyed hearing her read Big
Words for Little People, her latest book.
The opening general session speaker was Ron Reagan. He described
being from a family of “inveterate readers.” One of the
most important things in his young life was to order books at school
and getting to read them the day they arrived. His passion for libraries
and what they stand for was evident in his speech. The ideal that
libraries are “on the ramparts of defending freedom from passing
ideology" is an important principle, and he maintained that we must
stand for freedom everywhere. It was an uplifting speech and once
again made me proud to be an American Librarian where we do stand
for those freedoms.
Diahann Carroll was the closing speaker. The speech
was a “conversation” between
Sarah Long, past ALA President and NSLS Director and Ms. Carroll. Ms.
Carroll talked about how difficult it is to write a book with a collaborator. She
worked with more than one collaborator prior to her first book being
informal conversation included observations about racism and her
thoughts that greed is one of the fundamental causes of racism.
Overall the conference was one of the best with the convenience of
the program venues, the wonderful weather and the great program.