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Mary Ghikas's picture

ALA Conference Committee Report: 2013-2014 - through Midwinter 2014 -- DRAFT

The draft report is pasted in below.  Please use the comment function for changes/additions.  mg



COMMITTEE:  ALA Conference Committee (standing)

TIME PERIOD:  2013-2014 – through Midwinter 2014

REPORT SUBMITTED BY:  Jan Sanders, Chair

ACTIVITIES OF THE COMMITTEE:   (including the 2014 Conference Program Coordinating Team)

This report covers activities in the ALA Conference Committee group on ALA Connect and at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting:

  • On review of documents from ALA Conference Services, recommended two future sites for approval by the ALA Executive Board at their Fall 2013 meeting:  San Antonio (Midwinter, 2022) and New Orleans (Midwinter 2023 and Annual 2027). 
  • Reviewed the draft Statement on Conference Conduct, proposed for use beginning Midwinter 2014.
  • Received and reviewed survey results from the 2012 and 2013 ALA Annual Conference.
  • Received and reviewed ALA Annual Conference – Background for Discussion (2013-2014 EBD #12.8), for subsequent committee discussion.
  • Reviewed the proposed skeleton schedule for the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting and 2015 ALA Annual Conference, for approval by the ALA Executive Board during the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting.
  • Received updates from ALA staff on the 2014 Midwinter Meeting and 2014 ALA Annual Conference.
  • Received an update from ALA staff on the (aborted) attempt to implement an integrated proposal-to-final-program system to eliminate costly and error-prone repetitive data entry at different stages.   Use of “off-the-shelf” software is proposed; the initial implementation crashed ALA’s process complexity.  Over the next six months, that process complexity will be addressed and a new RFP developed, with plans for implementation in time to support the 2016 Annual Conference program, beginning with initial proposals for jury selection in 2015.
  • Reviewed a list of potential Auditorium Series speakers and recommended preferred speakers to ALA Conference Services (2014 CPCT).
  • Based on 2012 and 2013 survey results and other data, discussed future directions for ALA conferences. (ALA Conference Committee and 2014 CPCT)
    • Based on data reviewed, there was consensus that focus, simplification and increased clarity were desirable.
      • Considered limiting the number of programs to be presented at AC; considered whether every subgroup must present a program (which may sometimes be their only reason for being).
      • Considered holding some program slots for joint or collaborative programs, with 2 or more groups involved in planning and presentation.
  • Based on feedback, there must be attention to session times, session formats, session quality, alignment and timeliness.
  • A key objective should be an integrated conference experience.
  • ALA’s distinctive position is the “big tent,” crossing type-of-library, type-of-activity and special interest boundaries.  There was extensive discussion on issues relating to both unified identify (“big ALA”) and individual group identity (division, round table, other group).
  • Specifically address the time-contention issue.  One possibility would be to considered repeating high-demand sessions. (2014 CPCT)
  • Encourage collaboration in programming. (2014 CPCT)
  • Consider making video clips available in advance to encourage attendance and session participation. (2014 CPCT)
  • Require subject headings and tags. (2014 CPCT)
  • Build a “tag cloud” for each conference, as a way to illustrate focus. (2014 CPCT)


Next Meetings:

  • Work will continue in ALA Connect (both ALA Conference Committee and the 2014 Conference Program Coordinating Team). 
  • The next scheduled face-to-face meetings will be at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference:
    • ALA Conference Committee:  Saturday, June 28, 1:00-2:30pm
    • 2014 Conference Program Coordinating Team with 2015 Conference Program Coordinating Team:  Saturday, June 29, 10:30-11:30pm


Face-to-face meeting participants:

ALA Conference Committee:  Jan Sanders (chair),  Walter Betts (Chapter Councilor), Sara Kelly Johns (Executive Board), Kawanna Bright (Round Table Coordinating Assembly), Therese Bigelow (At-Large), Mary Ghikas (staff), Marissa Kossakowski (staff), Jenny Levine (staff).

Barry Trott (CPCT, RUSA), Jeffrey Bowen (CPCT, LLAMA), Mary Hastler (CPCT, PLA and YALSA), Julie Kane (CPCT, ALCTS), Jason Kucsma (CPCT, ASCLA), Delora Shapiro (CPCT, LITA), Charles Kratz (CPCT, Round Tables),  Jan Sanders (ALA Conference Committee), Mary Ghikas (staff), Marissa Kossakowski (staff).

Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

JFYI, there's a conference tag cloud on each Conference Scheduler's home page (see the Midwinter one). It's based on the "tags" field in the session data, so it might be advantageous to provide guidelines about what should go in that field (eg, not "selection committee").