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Mary Ghikas's picture

Changing Conference Process (internal background paper 2)

Please excuse me if I'm drowning you in information.  This helps me process and work through the details.  I also need  your feedback. 

The attached document, as well as the one previously posted, was background for a discussion this morning with staff from ALA Divisions and Offices.  It adds some specifics to the general concepts and directions layed out in the initial background paper.  As you look at it, you might notice several things:

(1) We are trying to analyze and pull together various types of content.  Ultimately, with a few exceptions all of these things will just be "content" to attendees -- but we may have gotten to individual pieces by different paths, may manage each differently, may slot/place each according to different requirements.   This was primarily an internal exercise, but....

   (a) In looking at 2012 program content, a cluster of recurring "updates" stood out.  We are proposing to pull updates -- samples, both current and potential, are listed on the attached document -- into a discrete content stream.  This will facilitate scheduling, coordination and marketing.   

   (b) The "shorts" (IGNITE! and similar formats) and "conversation starters" were added/modified this year (2012).  They are solicited in an open call.  There is an open voting period, followed by a second round of voting (based on the first) by the ALA Conference Committee.   In Anaheim, both series of meetings are using the same space -- at different times.  The space -- unusually for ALA  -- will be set in rounds, not theater rows, to encourage discussion.

   (c) Meal events and book/media award events often get lumped with programs, but are handled quite differently.  They often have very unique requirements.  They are listed on this document -- but we are aware of them and will work with the sponsoring groups.

(2)  In 2012 we grabbed the "content buckets" related to Transforming Libraries.  These intially came from discussion with member leaders about what they meant when they talked about the ongoing, significant transformation in libraries.  Discussion then focused on areas in which transformation was occurring -- space, collections, services, etc.    The "content buckets" -- my not-so-elegant term, but you may have a better one -- are listed on page 2 of this document.

In today's discussion, the following modications were suggested to the list to improve their effectiveness as broad areas for conference programming: 

         (a) Add one new content area:  Transforming Libraries: Systems and Technology

         (b)  Merge two existing content areas:  Space: Physical and Virtual

Those changes seem reasonable to me.  If you have recommendations or comments, let me know.

(3) A rough process for program submission is outlined on pages 2-3 of this document. There was general support for this process.  Based on extensive discussion this morning, the following additional points were made:

         (a) Programs will be submitted with one content bucket selected, one or more subject heading selected, and without a firm day/time selection.  Program submissions will include "must not conflict with...." information.  Conference Services will slot programs -- across 5 program slots/day, SA-M -- in November, and confirm with Division or Office/RT liaison.  The purpose of this shift is to reduce the number of content conflicts that members/attendees must handle. 

         (b) Divisions will continue to slot discussion/interest groups -- evenly across 5 programs slots, SA-M.  Discussion/interest group submissions will include one or more subject heading.  Requiring subject headings will allow us to begin to link programs and potentially associated discussion/interest groups and recommend discussion/interest groups to attendees, based on profiles in ALA Connect. 

         (c) Meetings present some unique scheduling challenges.  For FY13, meetings need to be spread evenly over 5 program periods, SA-M.  There was also some initial discussion around possible alternative scheduling approaches:  e.g., setting aside the 4:30-5:30 slot for meetings.  As we begin to both pull in the "campus" and push out more impact information, we will need to have further discussion on this.  There was also some discussion of the purposes for which groups need to come together at Annual. 

One more internal meeting -- with staff liaisons to the various ALA Round Tables -- is being set up this month.  Between that meeting and 2012 Annual, we will pull together a single document incorporating pieces from both of the internal documents I am sharing with you, so that staff have something they can share with members for discussion at Annual.

Please share your thoughts -- comments, worries, recommendations,......  (Those who are reading these posts but who are not members of the ALA Conference Committee, your comments, worries, recommendations.... are also invited.  That's why these documents are posted as public documents.  Your comments will be helpful to me and helpful to the committee.)

Thank you all for your help -- and for your patience with long documents and posts.