#ALA Conference Committee Discusses Future of Conferences, Expansion of Midwinter

This week the ALA Committee Report: ALA Conference Committee, 2013-2014 was posted to ALA Connect.  While I encourage all ALA members to read through the whole report, I wanted to quote two sections that I think will be of special interest (headings mine):

Future Directions for Conferences Based on Survey Results

  • 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 number of programs to be presented at AC; consider whether every subgroup MUST present a program as that is sometimes their only reason for being.
    • Considered holding some program slots for joint or collaborative programs that would be required to have 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)

Note: CPCT stands for Conference Program Coordinating Team.

ALA Conference Committee Discussion of Proposal to Expand Midwinter

  • At the 2014 Annual Conference, reviewed a Council resolution on programs at the Midwinter Meeting, referred from the ALA Budget Analysis and Review Committee.
    • Reviewed a background document (MW Program Discussion – publicly posted on the committee’s ALA Connect site).
    • Invited Jennifer Boettcher (RUSA Councilor and proposer) to the meeting to clarify intent and to participate in the discussion.
    • Explored various options. Discussion indicated little support for any significant expansion of the Midwinter Meeting footprint, i.e., there is no desire for a second annual.  The policy as it exists allows for “limited” programming, with authorization of the ALA Executive Board.  That authority has, for instance, been utilized to add a limited number of “Auditorium” programs to Midwinter.  The ALA Conference Committee will continue this discussion over the coming months, with the intent to respond to the ALA Budget Committee prior to their Fall 2014 Meeting, so that BARC can, in turn, respond to the ALA Council.
    • Related to the discussion of programming at Midwinter, there was a discussion of Discussion/Interest/Member Initiative Group content – at both Midwinter and Annual. Discussion focused on the tug become agility/currency and planning/communication.  There was general consensus that the content provided by these groups is valuable, but still no consensus on an effective resolution to the question of how to best manage the conflict between agility/currency and planning/communication.

As I said, I think the whole report is worth reading for ALA members. If you have questions or concerns about what I’ve posted here, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

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