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The tenth biennial conference of the Public Library Association (PLA), held February 24-28 in Seattle, drew the largest crowd ever: nearly 8700 library staff, exhibitors, authors, and guests, despite the downturn in travel budgets at many public libraries. Many sessions were packed, especially those concerning readers' advisory, marketing, and technology. Seattle's hotel concentration downtown meant everyone could walk to the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. Exhibitors reported good traffic, thanks to long-established no-conflict periods.
The proceedings had a distinct local flavor. No, the Seattle Public Library's (SPL) much-anticipated new Central Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas, wasn't open yet (see sidebar, p. 18), so the All-Conference Reception was held in the antiseptic convention center. Still, representatives of SPL and the neighboring King County Library System (KCLS) appeared on several panels, and SPL's temporary central was across the street. Seattleite Nancy Pearl, director of the Washington Center for the Book and LJ's Reader's Shelf columnist, drew a huge crowd at her readers' advisory session and found herself a center of attendee (and local press) attention as she autographed versions of the popular Librarian Action Figure in her image.
For PLA and President Luis Herrera, Pasadena PL, it was a chance to debut "The Smartest Card" campaign, a PLA/American Library Association (ALA) effort "to make the library card the most valued and used card in every wallet." The campaign will launch in September, National Library Card Sign-up Month.
Overflow crowds attended both the Opening General Session, featuring William …