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Jane Gillis's picture

Regional Workshops Committee

The Regional Workshops Committee was formed just over two years ago to take successful workshops presented at preconferences out to a wider audience throughout the country.  ACRL agreed to take on the responsibilities of registration, contracts, etc--what they do for RBMS preconferences.  They built into the budget the same percentage that they charge RBMS for preconferences.  In reality they spent much more time (i.e. money) than was budgeted.  With the new budget reflecting actual SCRL time spent on regional workshops, the registration fee would have to abe raised to $219 with almost 70% going for overhead.  This is not feasible.

The committee discussed possible alternatives and there was consensus around tweaking the charge of the committee to focus on the identification, organization and presentation of preconference workshops.  Since the 2011 annual meeting the chair of the committee has been working with the 2012 Preconference Program Committee to procure workshops and to create a database of possible workshops and presenters.  The committee  could still have an advisory role to institutions wishing to host a workshop previously held at an RBMS preconference. 


At the Executive Committee meeting, I said I would start a discussion on ALA Connect, which, hopefully, this does.

James Ascher's picture

So, I'm really happy this discussion is happening. I think we dearly need to explore how we can better serve our librarian colleagues, particularly those who are geographically separated from the traditional centers of our profession. It seems to me that when we speak about workshops, we are really talking about three distinct functions:




Historically, the Preconference has done all three. The group identifies potential workshop leaders, organizes a big event and advertisement, and by placing the event at the Preconference provides it with the RBMS imprimatur. The Workshops Committee has nobly tried to copy this model to regional workshops and has discovered that the issue of organization is difficult and expensive from the ACRL side. This shouldn't surprise anyone. Organization is hard and time consuming.

I like Jane's suggestion of considering this Committee's role to just be identification; that would be very useful, but I'd like to also include endorsement. What if there were a process by which an SAA, or independent, workshop could receive RBMS endorsement? We could use our promotion and organizational skills to help a distributed network of teachers and learners, rather than trying to duplicate our structures elsewhere. The role of the Committee might be to maintain a bulletin board (clearing house?) of teachers, workshops, places, events, etc. and provide some indication of the quality or simply indicate that the workshop (or teacher) is what it appears to be.

Jane Gillis's picture

From a suggestion from James Ascher, I am making this a public discussion.  Also, I am posting comments/ideas from Margot and Tory.  Something to think about.



Hi Jane,

 I saw the discussion but can’t comment as not being a member of the group.

 I wanted to offer the option of e-learning webcasts? They’d be 90 minute sessions at an affordable $50, plus group discounts. Margot Conahan, our Manager of Professional Development is cc’d here if you (or another member of RBMS) might be interested in going this route. I’ve all cc’d Deborah as Chair of Conference Development and James b/c he had commented as well.

 Best regards,

Tory Ondrla, CMP

Conference Supervisor

Association of College & Research Libraries


Hi Jane,

 I’d be happy to talk with you or another RBMS member if you would be interested in considering a webcast.  ACRL e-Learning webcasts are 90 minutes in length and are offered live, allowing for interactivity and Q+A between the presenters and online audience.  They are a nice way to provide meaningful professional development without the need or expense of travel.  It could be a nice option in lieu of regional workshops.

 We partner with a vendor named LearningTimes to produce our webcasts which are offered on the Elluminate platform.  LearningTimes handles all the tech support prior to and during the live session so presenters don't need to worry about that at all.  All they would need technology-wise is an Internet connection and a microphone.

ACRL offers our e-Learning presenters a royalty of 10% of the webcast registration fees.  This typically ranges between $100-300 per webcast depending on the number of webcast participants. 

I would be happy to fill you in on all the details if there is interest. 



Margot Conahan

Manager, Professional Development

Association of College and Research Libraries

Karen Weaver's picture

James said: "I think we dearly need to explore how we can better serve our librarian colleagues, particularly those who are geographically separated from the traditional centers of our profession."

Very true - outreach is important in many ways, but I never thought of RBMS having a 'traditional center of our profession' -?

  in addition to identification, organization, endorsement, I think a priority should also be what people need to make it worthwhile and interesting/helpful to their work  

 organization shouldn't always be "hard and time consuming' either, but planned well

    not everyone out there wants or likes e-learning either. trust me i have taught online 3 yrs and not everyone likes it or prefers it.   special collections in the last 5-10 yrs has put a large professional emphasis on hidden collections and it's likewise important that people be also willing to go out and see them in other communities you may or may not be familiar with. It also helps make us all better at what we do by stepping out of the perceived 'traditional center of our profession' (?)  

  something i would like to recommend to look at in terms of regional workshops --we had recently here in PA from an organization you may know CCAHA.org based in Philadelphia. they have been doing a series of workshops , i attended the first one here in Pittsburgh this fall, on collections care/preservation, I believe they received some funding also from IMLS the series is called "Save Pennsylvania's Past" and they set this up in response from what i recall --to a survey done also from different regions here. we have a large state with many rural, smaller communities in between Pittsburgh & Philadelphia.  people asked for workshops in their regions, costs were kept low ($25) for full day for in state, and held at local museums/libraries. you may want to take a look at the website to get more of an idea --I thought it worked very well. there are 6 or so workshops for spring/summer in different towns


here is the full program calendar:


there are some coming up also in Huntington West Virginia this month

being offered at the Huntington Museum of Art for example in 2 pts.

I attended the first one this fall and it was good group and we met at the Heinz History Center here in Pittsburgh, surprisingly to me, most of the people who did attend were from further outside of Pittsburgh and from many smaller organizations which was actually very nice for a change. They also appreciated that it was offered closer to them, many car-pooled to attend, I think it's important  because RBMS exists for all regions out there.  You very likely could try to obtain some funding too to help keep the workshop fees lower for people. It just may take a little more planning but may be a better experience --again not everyone likes e-learning always either.  I think you should offer some yes, but also try to offer more regional workshops too. that benefits everyone and its good to get out and see other areas too-even though one may not always think it matters, our collections reflect many parts of the US /globe .  I'm not really clear on what you mean by endorsement -?  keep in mind that many / most other orgs like SAA also offer their own workshops too, and they are usually also different content or different needs people might be looking for. 

There is a plethora of webinars to choose from out there , but it's also important that the profession, especially new professionals and recent graduates even know what they should be learning about too.  We have a large number of special collections professionals working in many regions who also never attend the pre-conferences but they are out there and you could work with many of them too to set up regional workshops and maybe just make some connections out there more.  Just some suggestions as I read this earlier.  Thanks Jane & everyone I think the regional workshops are an excellent idea and there is a need for it.

I would try to get some IMLS or other funding to help off-set the costs too -take a look at the CCAHA workshop series, I recommend it  and it was in response to a survey done in Pennsylvania for special collections /preservation also.   some examples 

Thanks and best regards,

Karen Weaver, MLS

Electronic Resources Statistician/Collection Management

Duquesne University, Gumberg Library

Pittsburgh PA   

Christina George's picture

I think that I may be considered, in one aspect, out of the "traditional center" of the profession. I live in Northwest Arkansas and there do not seem to be many options for work in our profession, much less furthering education through seminars and conferences, that I have found. I was very fortunate that ALA Midwinter in Dallas was only about a 6-hour drive. I wanted to attend a free (yes, free!) seminar at UT Knoxville this weekend, but 11 hours is a long way.

All that is to say that I agree with Jane about exploring ways to reach fellow librarians, on the 'outskirts' of major centers.


Christina George