By GUY LAMOLINARA
Sweltering heat and high humidity didn't stop more than 17,000 participants from attending the American Library Association's (ALA) Annual Meeting in New Orleans, June 24 through July 1.
In the Convention Center, the Library of Congress exhibition booth was often crowded. Attracting visitors' attention were several new offerings. For example, the Library's online exhibitions, available over the Internet and on America Online, were especially popular, as passers-by were drawn to the full- color images of items from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Vatican Library, Columbus quincentenary and Russian archives exhibitions. These exhibitions, which are no longer on display at the Library, can still be viewed, online. "That's amazing," said one visitor as she watched a demonstration. As the images appeared on the screen, a crowd began to gather. The exhibit items as well as the accompanying descriptive text can be called up, thus allowing those who are unable to travel to Washington to see LC exhibitions, or those who want to "see" the exhibitions yet again, to view them.
Other popular offerings were the LC data bases available over the Internet and LC Marvel, an online source of information about the Library and a gateway to worldwide Internet offerings (see page TK for more information).
The Library of Congress News Service, a dialup data base that has been in operation since August 1992, was also being demonstrated. Fifteen menus were recently added to the 13 already available (see page Tk for more information).
Other products being demonstrated were American Memory, a pilot project in 44 libraries nationwide that makes some of the Library's collections available on CD-ROM, and offerings from the Cataloging Distribution Service. There were also representatives from the Center for the Book, the Copyright Office and the Interpretive Programs Office, which was featuring its new traveling exhibitions program (see page TK for more information).
Meanwhile, ALA delegates showed their support for the Library in various forums by:
* Passing resolutions in support of the Library's budget request to Congress for fiscal 1994 and in support of the Library's decision to hold firm in its determination to retain public access to the papers of former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall;
* Praising LC for making its bibliographic data bases and other online files available over the Internet; and
* Applauding the Library's cooperative cataloging efforts, including copy cataloging for incoming books, [and] diverting LC's cataloging expertise to process unique collections, prepare cataloging instruction manuals and update classification schedules.
Winston Tabb, associate librarian for Collections Services, said after the conference that "the Library has received a tremendous amount of praise for putting the files on Internet."
The board of directors of the Association for Library Collections and technical Services (ALCTS) gave Mr. Tabb a letter commending the Library for implementing whole book cataloging and "other ways in which LC is meeting the challenge to process uncataloged materials and to improve cost effectiveness through innovative means, especially in adpoption of new information technologies."
The letter also noted that LC's greater use of copy cataloging "enables you to devote more time to original cataloging for materials which might not otherwise be cataloged."
The Library's efforts in whole book cataloging "and other ways in which LC is meeting the challenge to process uncataloged materials and to provide cataloging in a cost-effective fashion, for example, the creation of the Cooperative Cataloging Council and its task groups ... reflects what we view as positive changes from past practices."
According to Mr. Tabb, "Use of more cataloging done by other libraries frees us to do what we do best: to catalog an incomparable array of foreign-language materials, to develop classification schedules and cataloging instruction manuals and to process our unique special collections.
"We are getting a cost-effective division of labor that produces more cataloging faster at less cost for LC and the nation's libraries," he added.
Former President Jimmy Carter spoke before a crowd of about 9,500 at the General Session on June 26. ALA President Marilyn Miller introduced Mr. Carter who described himself as "perhaps the only former president who has gone on to bigger and better things." The audience cheered in agreement. What Mr. Carter referred to was his work with Habitat for Humanity, which helps low-income people build and purchase their own homes, and the Carter Center, a bipartisan center that works on issues such as conflict resolution and health care.
"My whole life has been intimately involved with libraries," he told the standing-room-only crowd. "My very first political job was on the library board of Suffolk County."
Mr. Carter said, "I depend heavily on the library for the books I write." He has recently written Talking Peace," which he called "the first book about peace ever written for young people."
According to the former president, the Carter center is a "place for people to come and work in harmony for a common goal."
Habitat for Humanity seeks to "break down the barriers" between rich and poor," he said. A house "literally transforms" the lives of those who are involved in a Habitat project. Those who get homes thorugh Habitat pay full price for their dwellings with no- interest loans.
Mr. Carter also spoke of another barrier between rich and poor: a good education. "Where can they [the poor] go to read and write, to learn current events? The library," he answered, as the audience applauded resoundingly.
Lamenting the financial state of the nationm's libraries, he said government needs to place greater emphasis on the information sciences. "That is not being done. The library profession is facing a crisis," he said, as universities are closing their schools.
"The tragedy cannot be corrected except through you."