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Lindsay Bosch (staff)'s picture

Pre-vote discussion: 12/3/13-12/9/2013 - ACRL 2017 Conference Relocation

Dear Board members

Please find attached an action form from Tory Ondrla and Margot Conahan regarding the ACRL 2017 Conference location. 

Please post any feedback, questions or comments on the document using the threaded discussion attached to this post.  ACRL staff will respond in the forum to any questions that may arise.  The action may be edited according to your input and we will hold a virtual vote beginning Dec 10 and concluding Dec 16, 2013.

Thank you,

Lindsay Bosch

ACRL Program Officer

Irene Herold's picture

I liked both Charlotte and Baltimore, but because you could take a train from the airport to the convention area/hotel area that tips my vote. Both have waterfront charm, albeit very different. I guess you could argue that the weather will be warmer in Charlotte, which might be attractive, but not a drawing card for me coming from Hawaii!

Irene Herold

ACRL Board, Past President 2017-2018

Cynthia Steinhoff's picture

It's a 15-minute drive to free parking at the light rail station, then a quick train ride and a short walk to the convention center for me.  Baltimore is a nice venue, and has excellent hotels and places for receptions.  Irene is right that the weather could be warmer in Charlotte.  Baltimore can have lovely spring weather in late March - or a few flakes of snow.  I'm voting for Baltimore.



Julie Garrison's picture

I'm disappointed that we feel we need to pull out of Nashville, it would have been a great city for the conference. I am hopeful that the majority of hotels in both Baltimore and Charlotte are under $200/ night since I see that there are rates into the $200s for both of these cities as well? I certainly recognize the need to keep things affordable for members but do want to make sure that all aspects of travel costs are wrapped up into this assessment. It also wasn't clear whether Nashville actually had enough of a room inventory to accommodate our conference or if the inventory was just more expensive than we feel is affordable. If they don't have enough rooms, then I completely support this decision. If the overall assessment is that this conference is likely to cost members significantly more in travel and hotel costs (considering getting around the conference city, airport transfers, airfares, other options for travel, etc.) if we stay in Nashville, I support this decision to move.


I am also comfortable with staff making the final call on which city we relocate to in 2017. I do recommend that the committee members who originally selected Nashville be notified of the change as well.





Mark Emmons's picture

I support staff making the final call.

If it matters, I prefer this order:

  1. Nashville
  2. Charlotte
  3. Baltimore

Mark Emmons

University of New Mexico

Associate Dean of Public Services

Julia Gelfand's picture

I, too, defer to the staff's decision, however I think that hotel rates & transportation costs are increasingly dictating whether our members plan to attend conferences and where they are willing to travel to them.  The ALA Midwinter meeting in January 2017 is in Atlanta and the annual meeting is in Chicago, thus I am inclined to support Baltimore for its easy access from a range of Northeastern and central midwestern locations and redeye flights from the west coast, as folks try and save a night's lodging.  Both cities are familiar to ACRL and there are good facilities, cultural opportunities and potential for local talent in each offer, although Baltimore tips the scale being so adjacent to DC for the last category.  Nashville would have been attractive because ACRL has not been there but if that becomes too expensive it will not attract as large a number of attendees.  I think we also have to consider the shift in the exhibitor marketplace and I think Baltimore will be favored there, too.

Julia Gelfand 

Mary Ellen Davis's picture

Dear Board members,

Thanks so much for your comments and your interest in which city the ACRL 2017 Conference is held. We certainly share your disappointment about leaving Nashville. Our staff has spent a lot of time and effort in the initial recommendation of Nashville and in the negotiations that have led to this recommending this withdrawal. Our Conference Supervisor, Tory Ondrla, has been on the Nashville Customer Advisory Board (CAB) for the past two years and attended meetings with the leadership of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the general managers of the new Nashville hotels. At their most recent meeting in November, the issue of hotel rates dominated the conversation with many CAB members expressing their concern and rethinking their future conference commitments.  Nashville certainly would be a great city for the ACRL conference, but the rate conditions right now are what lead us to believe it would be best to reconsider Nashville for a future year. In response to Julia's questions:


-          Baltimore and Charlotte rates do reach in to the $200’s as well. The high end of the rate range isn’t what we’re most concerned about. It is that there is literally no bottom range in Nashville. The lowest rate would be $190, and this is at a Best Western, which is usually budget-friendly hotel option. We feel that this would disenfranchise a good segment of our attendance who need to travel on a budget, especially our scholarship recipients. It is also a drastic hike in rate ranges when typically we offer about 30% of our rates in the lower – medium rate range ($135 - $179). We’d go from Portland rates in 2015 at $139 - $169 to Nashville rates in 2017 at $190 - $238. Baltimore would offer 50% of rates in the $135- $179 range, Charlotte would offer 35% in the same range and Nashville would offer zero rooms in that range.

-          Other aspects of travel were also considered although not explicitly mentioned in the document. Hotel rooms are the most obvious cost of conference travel after registration and one factor that the association perceptibly has some control over. Not so with airfare. However, Nashville has less airlift with only 400 flights per day compared to 730 in Charlotte and 638 in Baltimore.  Charlotte is a hub for US Air and Baltimore is a hub for Airtran. While Southwest and American fly heavily into Nashville, it does not have hub status. Comparing March 2014 flight costs in the same Wed – Sat from LAX, ORD & NYC into the 3 potential cities – there is not much difference coming from ORD or NYC into any of the 3 cities (about $40 rate range depending on which city you fly into) but coming from the West coast, the LAX flights into Nashville are about $80 more expensive than flying into either Baltimore or Charlotte.

-          Regarding hotel inventory, Nashville does have enough hotel rooms to host our conference, but not enough in the city right now to promote healthy competition among them for rates.  That is why even the typically more affordable brands (Best Western, Holiday Inn Express, etc.) can charge rates of $190 and higher.

At this time it would be helpful to know if the Board has any other questions/concerns about withdrawing from Nashville so that we can address these prior to the voting.

While we may each have favorite cities, it is premature to rally around one at this time because staff needs to complete site visits to the cities and find out what the total package of prices and amenities would be. Once we have this fuller picture we will have more information upon which to base our recommendation.

Please let us know if you have any further questions. We are happy to answer them. 


Mary Ellen


Mary Ellen Davis Executive Director Association of College & Research Libraries mdavis@ala.org

Mary Ann Sheble (non-member)'s picture

As one of the "pay your own way to conferences" ACRL members, I'm pleased to see Mary Ellen's comments and know that ACRL takes into consideration conference site expenses as one of the factors for decisions about selecting locations.  That said:

Like others who have posted so far, I'm comfortable having the ACRL staff make the final determination for the location of ACRL 2017. 

I have a slight preference for Baltimore, mainly because I'm familiar with the city and know that it has good facilities and is easy to access via train and air.              

Mary Ann Sheble Dean, Division of Learning Resources, Oakland Community College Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

Loretta Parham's picture

I am comfortable with either location and agree that staff should decide.

Loretta Parham

CEO & Director, Atlanta University Center Woodruff Library

Susan Whyte's picture

Hi all,

I echo Loretta's exact words.


Thank you, Susan