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Portland hosts first major conference in two years as librarians make landing

The Public Library Associations' National Conference is the largest event to come to the Oregon Convention Center since the start of the pandemic.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Public Library Associations' National Conference has hit the Oregon Convention Center, marking the first large event to come to Portland since the start of the pandemic — a small comeback for the embattled events industry.

For the next two days, librarians will sit through workshops and explore different exhibits. Public Library Association President Melanie Huggins said the city of Portland is still at the top of their list for destinations despite issues with crime and homelessness.

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"We love being in Portland, the way that Portland has this really great grassroots community and this heart for activism is a really great match for what public libraries do," Huggins said.

There are still some COVID-19 rules at the conference. Attendees have to be vaccinated and wear a mask inside.

Like Huggins, library director Peter Coyl said he's happy to be back in Portland. The conference was held here about a decade ago. He said he feels safe in the city.

"I think the local government officials and the police have done a great job to make sure we are welcome and have mitigated all the concerns that people would have," Coyl said.

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Convention Center Executive Director Craig Stroud said there's a full set of events booked this summer. He said event organizers have not been detoured from coming to the city.

"We're getting questions around what is Portland like?" Stroud said. "We answer those questions and give confidence to attendees that they can come to Portland."

Organizers expect conference attendees to put over $4 million back into the local economy by eating at restaurants and shopping at stores.

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