Michigan Library Association – Academic Libraries Conference 2014 #MLA14AL

Oh hello!  It’s been a little while (a regretfully long while) and I just thought it might be a nice time to post about my experiences working on the Michigan Library Association’s Academic Libraries Conference planning committee.  (I wrote about this a bit right after our initial Leadership Day meeting here).

Interested in Presenting?

Before I get into my reflections on being part of the planning committee, I wanted to let you all know, dear readers, that if you’d like to present a one hour program or a poster you should fill out our call for proposals:  session and/or poster.

  • Program or session proposals are due December 9, 2013 (note this deadline was extended by a week).
  • Poster proposals are due February 14, 2014.

The conference is May 29-30, 2014 in the Kellogg Center at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.  There will be two AWESOME keynotes:  one by Kathleen Fitzpatrick and one by Lisa Spiro.

You do not have to be a Michigan Library Association member to submit proposals.  If you are accepted and you decide to come to the conference, you’ll pay a non-member rate; OR you can just come for your session for free and not stay for the whole conference.  Furthermore, you do not have to have the title of librarian to submit proposals.  All are welcome to submit!

Just a little note:  we are considering doing a new thing this year!  We may pick a few posters and programs that have been accepted to be part of an “Ignite” session during the pre-conference reception on Wednesday.  If there is not enough interest among targeted presenters, we won’t do it – but if people are interested, we think it could be an interesting way to draw traffic to their posters or sessions throughout the conference.  We’ll see!  Have you gone to any Ignite sessions at library conferences?  If so, what did you think?  We’ve heard some feedback and are aware of some pitfalls, but feel free to comment with some tips or other thoughts!

Reflecting on Conference Planning

Where programming committee members come from.

Programming Subcommittee Membership

I’ve found being a part of this planning committee to be a nice opportunity for connection with librarians across Michigan.  I have the most interaction with folks on my subcommittee, the “programming” subcommittee, which is comprised of people from UM Dearborn, Davenport University, Delta College, and Northern Michigan University.  But there are even more colleges and universities represented across the whole committee (the two other subcommittees focus on marketing and special events for the conference).  So, I have found a lot of value being on this committee in the exposure to people from other places within Michigan.

We “meet” regularly via phone conferences, and for the most part I think we’ve been highly efficient and effective as a committee working in this way.  We have calls with the whole group roughly monthly, and the subcommittees each have phone conferences as needed.  The programming subcommittee’s work is front-loaded: our charge is to organize the call for proposals for posters and talks, to solicit and oversee the jurors who will select posters and talks, and to arrange the final conference schedule (for general programming not for special events).  Once this is arranged, our work will taper off, and I think marketing’s will skyrocket.  I’ve found it nice to contribute to my committee by being the “Google form guru.”  I created the calls for posters and proposals (an improvement over last year’s survey monkey forms).  It’s nice to have a concrete, discrete, and critical set of tasks to accomplish – I really feel like I’m contributing in a valuable way.

In the larger committee as a whole, we’ve been having an interesting discussion over the past few weeks around conference deadlines.  I think it’s fairly common for conferences to extend their deadlines on proposal submissions (for talks mostly).  It seems as though the Michigan Library Association wants to move away from this perception of an automatic deadline extention.  I don’t have a strong opinion either way honestly.  I think on the one hand, if one is in the practice of not extending the deadline, you can more easily handle some aspects of planning and advertising.  But, if extending the deadline gives a conference two chances to reach a target audience of potential submitters, and a greater diversity of submissions flow in because of the extension, then it seems worth the small hassle of extending by a week or so.

We did extend our deadline by a week this time, but I think that was partly due to our talk proposal deadline being the Monday after Thanksgiving… Next year we will plan that deadline more thoughtfully!

So, what do you think?   Do you think state (or other small) library associations are too much in the habit of regularly extending submission deadlines?  Is this an effective strategy or a signal that communication efforts in advance of the deadline are failing?

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