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Mary Ghikas's picture

Changing Conference Process (internal background paper)

As you know, over the past few years there have been a number of significant changes affecting ALA conferences -- some affecting Midwinter, some Annual and some both.  We have reached a point where the basic processes which enable us to pull together a large, very complex event need to be fundamentally revisited.  The attached document was developed as a background document for internal use -- with executive directors of ALA divisions, with directors of ALA offices, with liaisons to ALA round tables and other groups. 

After discussion with Steve Matthews, chair of the ALA Conference Committee, I am sharing this with you.  (1) We believe it will provide necessary background for discussion when we meet in Anaheim.  (2) We need your creative thinking on these issues as we plan for future conferences.  

Internally, we are in the middle of the meetings noted above; it is likely that I will have at least one additional document for you prior to Annual 2012.  We are also beginning the process of defining requirements for a new conference technology package, e.g. proposal/abstract process, meeting management, reports. The attached document relates primarily, though not exclusively, to Annual, and primarily to programs and related discussion/interest group sessions.

We will be discussing some of these changes, and others, when we meet in June.  Chair Steve Matthews is working on the agenda, which you should receive in the next week or so.

Thanks.  See you soon.

Changing Conference Processes.docx26.5 KB
Robert Banks's picture


Thank you for sharing this document.  I'm still processing the information but I feel that I have a much better insight into the issues before the association in getting this "right" for our members. 

A couple comments:

I strongly support the concept of pulling meetings to the conference site or core.  I know some cities will make this difficult, but I've heard repeatedly that if you "have to/want to" attend a meeting/program at a distant hotel, unless you are willing to cab it back to the conference site, you have committed to spending a good chunk of the day at only that event.  With overlapping schedules travel time, etc. it was just impossible to get much else done.  This should be a big help.

I don't have any particular insight into the other topics, but like the direction it is headed.


Rob Banks

Mary Ghikas's picture

Thanks.  You are absolutely correct.  The big, spread-out campus isn't desirable.  The cost of shrinking it, which we must do, is that not everyone can meet or have their program whenever they want to.  We will need to figure out both how to have some limits on which we can all agree and spread programs, discussion groups, and meetings over all regular time slots -- not just 10:30 a..m. and 1:30 p.m. 

Paul Graller and Carrie Mehrhoff (ALA Conference Services) and I set down yesterday to look at the McCormick Place/Hyatt McCormick spaces (Chicago, Annual 2013).  We have tentatively figured out how many programs (max) we can accomodate and still have some space for discussion groups and meetings.  Our aim is to get all programs into McCormick.  There is still a lot of collaborative work to be done, though.

In Anaheim, the programs are in the "core triangle" of the Anaheim Convention Center/Hilton/Marriott.  Discussion/interest groups and meetings are more scattered.  You are correct that the capacity and challenges of each site are different.  We'll need to peg the number of programs to the capacity of each site -- and to the anticipated attendance in that site. 

Thanks for your comments and help.