Annual Conference Programs FAQ

At the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim in June 2008, the ACRL Board approved the current process for managing the ACRL Annual Program conference programs. The process is managed by the ACRL Professional Development Committee (PDC). This process was put in place largely to: systematically coordinate the program offerings of ACRL; ensure a diversity of programming options; share ideas about programs that may be proposed, individually or jointly; and help ensure the quality of ACRL programs offered at the conference.

When do I submit a proposal for an ACRL program to be offered at the ALA Annual Conference?
Proposals must be submitted 10 months ahead of the intended conference date. For example, proposals for the June 2017 conference should be submitted by September 1, 2016. Review the ACRL Annual Conference Program Planning Calendar for details.

Interested in submitting an ALA poster session proposal for the 2017 ALA Annual Conference? Proposals are due in January, 2017, and complete details will be posted to the ALA Annual Conference Web site.

How do I submit a proposal for an ACRL conference program?
Proposals must be submitted electronically by September 1 (10 months ahead of the intended conference date). A proposal form must be submitted for each program.

ALA program submission software allows ACRL members to submit ACRL program proposals for the 2016 ALA Annual Conference by signing in at the proposal site with their ALA login. The new online proposal submission software also allows users to edit their program proposal up until the September 1, 2016, deadline. To assist in planning your answers, please review the proposal questions ahead of time.*

*While the questions included in the proposal template are accurate, the new software is formatted differently than the template. The new software features a clean interface, with the proposal questions divided by subject matter.

Who is responsible for the selection and funding of ACRL conference programs?
The ACRL Professional Development Committee (PDC) is responsible for the review and selection of program proposals and funding requests. Program planners will be notified of the PDC's actions in October, 2016.

What is the ACRL Board of Director’s role in the conference program planning process?
The ACRL Board of Directors has delegated the responsibility of reviewing program proposals to PDC. PDC will review and select programs to be offered at Annual Conference. The Professional Development Committee does work with the Board and other groups, as needed, to determine the needs of the Association’s members to ensure that their professional development needs are met.

What criteria will PDC use to evaluate and select the programs?
PDC will evaluate whether program submissions:


  • Content is relevant to academic libraries and librarianship
  • Content is unique and different from other programs
  • Content identifies clarity of purpose
  • Proposal has clearly stated intended learning outcomes for the audience
  • Content is engaging to audience members in thinking about or participating in discussions and/or active learning


  • Content could be re-purposed (e.g. webcast, online course, article) to ensure it has a life after the program
  • Content provides evidence of collaborative co-sponsorship
  • Content supports the ACRL Plan for Excellence

Does PDC select topics for the Annual Conference?
No. PDC can suggest topics that advance the ACRL Plan for Excellence to sections, committees, or individuals that plan to submit a proposal.

Can individuals submit a proposal for an ACRL Annual Conference program?
Yes, under the new review process, ACRL members may submit proposals for an Annual Conference program. The person(s) submitting the individual proposal must be an ACRL member, and should maintain ACRL membership throughout the planning cycle.  Individual program planners are encouraged to thoroughly evaluate the planning process before submitting a proposal, including ensuring the ability to commit to onsite attendance to present the program.

Will proposals from individuals and proposals from sections, interest groups, or division-level committees be evaluated the same way?
Yes. All proposals will be evaluated using the selection criteria. ALA sets limits on the number of programs each unit can approve. ACRL is allowed to have 19 programs each year.

Program date/time will be assigned by ALA Conference Services.
Programs will be slotted by ALA Conference Services, working collaboratively with division staff and the ALA Conference Committee. Program planners will be asked to indicate a preferred time, but programs will ultimately be spread across the entire array of time slots. Program planners will need to indicate specific limitations - e.g. "should not conflict with...," "speaker only available on Sunday," etc.

Is a Section, Interest Group, or Committee required to submit a program each year?
A section, interest group, or committee is not required to have a program annually. Some groups may want to sponsor programs every other year; perhaps alternating with the next ACRL Conference. Groups may also consider co-sponsoring programs with other sections, interest groups, or committees.

Can programs be co-sponsored?
Yes, PDC strongly encourages units and/or individuals to cosponsor programs with other ACRL or ALA units and outside organizations. ACRL recognizes two types of co-sponsorships:

  • Co-sponsorship in name only (a written request should be sent to the ACRL Program Officer as early as possible, but a least 9 months prior to the Annual Conference at which the program is being presented). There is a limit of 2 in name only co-sponsorships per program.
  • Co-sponsorship with shared planning and financial responsibilities (should be treated as a regular conference program with written proposal responding to criteria and guidelines and submitted 10 months prior to the Annual Conference).

What if I need funding for a program, including travel expenses, or honoraria for non-librarian speakers?
The ACRL Board of Directors allocates $20,000 from its budget to support ACRL programs at the ALA Annual Conference (excluding cost of audiovisual equipment). PDC will determine how these funds will be allocated among the accepted program proposals. How well your program proposal meets the criteria outlined above will be one of the determining factors in whether it is funded or not. Preference for increased funding is given to groups who jointly plan and sponsor a single program (not an additional program or one where one group lends their name as a co-sponsor). See the Section 9 Funding Chapter of the ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures.

Is the ACRL President’s Program selected by the PDC?
The President’s Program will be exempt from review by the PDC, although the President’s Program Planning Committee works closely with PDC. PDC will approve the President’s Program funding request.

Program Speakers and Recordings
All approved programs will be audio recorded. Speakers must sign a release form and provide all presentations electronically. Speaker information will be requested from program planners after program acceptances have been issued in October.  All program speakers must attend the program onsite; virtual participation cannot be supported.

Complete details about the ACRL program process are available in Section 9 of the ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures.

Virtual Meeting and Online Chat for Interested Program Planners
Thanks to those of you that joined staff for the April 28 virtual meeting to discuss an overview of the process.  Couldn't make the meeting?  The full recording is available here.

Please also consider discussing your program topic and possible collaboration with other ACRL units or individuals during an online chat in ALA Connect starting Friday, April 29, 2016, at 11a.m. Central. Join the chat here. The chat will remain open through the summer of 2016, so please check back and review any requests for collaboration.

Questions? Contact or