Sunday, March 2, 2014

The 1973 ALA Conference in Las Vegas

One of the readers of this blog suggested that I do a post on the 1973 American Library Association Conference in Las Vegas since it will be meeting there again this Summer after a 41 year hiatus. Thanks Elisa. I thought it was a great idea especially since I was one of the 8,539 individuals who attended that conference. The 1973 ALA conference was held June 24-30, and the theme was "People: Their Needs - Our Responsibilities".  A preliminary conference program gushed: "Three and one-half miles of incredibly colorful marquees, flashing, plunging, zooming - luxurious hotels, fascinating casinos that never close, lavish showrooms and superstar entertainment, excellent meeting facilities, and a profusion of good restaurants with offerings to suit every taste at reasonable prices. All of this, and more, is the heady excitement of the Las Vegas Strip - scene of the 92nd ALA conference. It promises to be an unforgettable and memorable experience!". It was definitely an unforgettable experience for many who attended the conference during the hottest period in Las Vegas in 1973. The temperature on June 28 was 113 degrees F. It was the heat that brought about such heavy criticism from attendees that ALA hasn't gone back in 41 years. Back then, many of the conference hotels were long distances from each other and some librarians made the mistake of trying to hoof it between them ending up with scorched feet. Personally, I enjoyed the conference. At that time I was active in the Junior Members Round Table and helped organize and staff JMRT's booth in the exhibits. I was rather proud of a home made roulette wheel that I put together. The famous public relations guru Fred Glazer was the incoming chair of JMRT and also helped with the booth. Of course, with the unbelievable development in Las Vegas since 1973, the 2014 conference should be unforgettable for many reasons other than the heat. I will hate to miss it. 


JB Nye said...

My dad attended the 1973 ALA Annual in Las Vegas and I remember him talking about the brutal heat. (And this from someone who lived through the miserably hot and humid summers in Washington, DC!) But I don't think it was only member feedback that was responsible for ALA not coming back for 40+ years. I'd heard that Las Vegas hotels were very disappointed in librarians as convention goers -- they didn't gamble or go to shows, they just WENT TO MEETINGS!

Unknown said...

I attended to get a special John Cotton Dana Award. I mostly remember the chilled water that flowed back into the hotel's swimming pool. Also our plane had to land half way across the country to get more fuel to make it back to Boston. The fuel expanded so much in the heat that they couldn't get a full tank.

Dan Lester said...

I was there and LOVED the heat. Of course I grew up in Phoenix, AZ, before air conditioning, and still love the hear here in St. George, UT, 110 miles up the road from Vegas. Yes, librarians are the only conventioneers I've EVER heard of that have meetings from early morning until late night. And at least in 73 we were, on average, much more conservative than we are now. I'd be tempted to go down for a day just to see what it is like as an "outsider", but doubt I will.