Chapter 9: Annual Conference Programs

9.1 General information
9.2 Professional Development Committee
9.3 Program approval process
9.4 Preparing your program proposal
9.5 Funding

9.5.1 Section Basic Services funding
9.5.2 Committee and Interest Group funding
9.5.3 Outside funding

9.6 Budget

9.6.1 Speaker costs
9.6.2 Honoraria and expenses
9.6.3 Estimating costs

9.7 Audiovisual equipment
9.8 Publicity

9.8.1 After the program

9.9 Guest registration
9.10 Important dates
9.11 No-Conflict meeting times
9.12 Cosponsorships

9.12.1 Cosponsorships—In Name Only of ALA programs
9.12.2 Cosponsorships—In Name Only for programs offered by non-ALA organization

9.13 Evaluations
9.14 Give-Away items



   9.1 General information

ACRL encourages units and individual members to develop high-quality programs to present at the ALA Annual Conferences. To assist in planning quality programs, ACRL has developed procedures and timelines that must be followed. In addition, criteria that must be met for each program proposal are outlined.

All programs will take place in the convention center, making it easier for attendees to get to content sessions. The number of programs each year will vary depending on the space in the convention center. This space will naturally impose limits on the number of programs to be held, which will help address concerns about duplication and the vastness of the conference campus.

ACRL staff maintain close communication with program planners throughout the planning process. All program information should be funneled through the ACRL Senior Program Officer.  In addition, this group meets virtually before the ALA Midwinter Meeting and the ALA Annual Conference.

   9.2 Professional Development Committee

The ACRL Professional Development Committee (PDC) is responsible for reviewing all conference program proposals.  The PDC works to ensure that proposals support the division's strategic directions and priorities, and adhere to established procedures and budgets while providing broad coverage and limited duplication. The past chair of the PDC serves as ACRL's representative to the ALA Conference Program Coordinating Team.

   9.3 Program approval process

ACRL units and individual members must submit a program proposal (link available in the FAQ) 9 months prior to the Annual Conference at which the program is to be presented. Program proposals will be compiled and prepared for the PDC's review. All programs must be approved, whether asking for funds or not, by the PDC in order to be scheduled during the conference.

The PDC reviews the program proposals and approves qualified proposals by early November.  The ALA Conference Committee meets in mid-November to schedule all ALA programs, including ACRL's programs, across the conference time slots.  Program planners are then informed of the PDC's action and the date/time assignment. Only programs approved by the PDC may be scheduled.  NOTE: ACRL staff completes the ALA online meeting request form for all programs in November. Program chairs/Section chairs do not schedule the program with ALA.

   9.4 Preparing your program proposal

In developing a proposal for an Annual Conference program, the following criteria should be addressed:

  • 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 one or more of the ALA strategic directions: Advocacy, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Information Policy, Professional and Leadership Development

   9.5 Funding

The ACRL Board of Directors provides $7,000 from its budget to support Annual Conference programs (excluding cost of audiovisual equipment). The PDC determines how these funds are allocated among the 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.

Funding for programs can only be used for the approved designated expenses. ACRL program funding can’t be used for plaques or to take the speakers to lunches/dinner, unless the speaker per diem will be used.

Outside donations must be obtained to pay for group speaker meals. Committees and interest groups can use their yearly allocation for plaques.  Please consult with ACRL staff on funding questions.

   9.5.1 Section Basic Services funding

Section program planners may also request supplemental funding from the section executive committee. Requests for basic services funds should be sent to the section chair in September. Section executive committees may choose to allocate part or their entire basic services budget for programs expenses. (Source: ACRL Executive Committee, October 2004)

   9.5.2 Committee and Interest Group funding

Committee and interest group program planners may apply their unit’s yearly allocation to the program. Requests for these funds should be sent to the unit chair in September. Unit chairs may choose to allocate part or their entire $150 allocation for programs expenses. (Source: ACRL Executive Committee, October 2004)

Section basic services funding and committee/interest group general budgets are considered ACRL funds and cannot be used for librarian speaker expenses or to purchase plaques or speaker lunches/dinners.

   9.5.3 Outside funding

Sometimes there may be a need to seek funding beyond that which is allocated through ACRL to support programs. The ACRL Colleagues Program, created by the Board in 1992, generates nondues revenue to allow ACRL to expand programs and services to members and potential donors, and to do more in the area of promoting the profession. The Board believes that it is important to coordinate all requests to potential donors and other outside funders through a centralized program. ACRL members may not make any formal requests on behalf of the division to potential donors for contributions without first clearing the request with the ACRL executive director.

In December, program planners are notified of the PDC’s decision regarding funding for programs. Planners should then complete the planning process by:

  • Requesting section basic services funds or committee/interest group funding from unit chair; notify ACRL staff if fund transfer is approved (if applicable).
  • Submitting a fundraising plan to ACRL (if applicable).  Plans should include the donors you’d like to approach and the amount you will request.  ACRL staff will notify you which donors you have been approved to approach. Contact the ACRL Senior Program Officer with questions.

   9.6 Budget

Estimates should be made for the following items in the program budget: handouts, speakers' expenses and honoraria, and any special equipment a non-librarian speaker might require. Costs to be considered for handouts may include such things as: photocopying, mailing to conference site, etc.

   9.6.1 Speaker costs

ALA does not pay expenses, honoraria, or conference registration to librarians living in North America or ALA members who participate in Annual Conference programs. International speakers, as well as nonmember, non-librarian speakers, are eligible for complimentary conference registrations.  All program speakers must attend the program onsite; virtual speaker participation is not supported.

   9.6.2 Honoraria and expenses

Librarians: Librarian speakers are not eligible to receive honoraria and reimbursement for travel expenses.  A librarian is anyone who holds an MLS or equivalent degree, or who works in the field of library and information science, including faculty in schools of library and information science. Librarian speakers can be reimbursed for copying expenses in connection with program handouts.

Non-librarians: Any non-librarian speaker who is not an ALA member may receive honoraria, reimbursement for travel and duplication of handout expenses, and complimentary conference registration.

Speakers honoraria for presentations at an ACRL unit's Annual Conference program are established at a maximum of $1,000 and must be agreed upon in advance by the program planners and ACRL staff before discussing it with speakers.

(Source: ACRL Board, June 2004)

   9.6.3 Estimating costs

While the actual costs for various services and resources for a conference program will vary from city to city depending on the type of program and type of speakers chosen, there are some industry standards that can be used to recommend a fairly accurate program budget. In planning your program budget, use the following estimated costs:

  • Transportation—roundtrip airfare $450. ALA reimburses at coach fare only. Travel by automobile is reimbursed at 58¢ per mile, but can not exceed the cost of coach airfare. If special fares are used, reimbursement is the actual cost incurred. Transportation to and from airports is reimbursed. All airfare, train, cab, and local transportation expenses must be accompanied by an original receipt to be considered for reimbursement. Fees for parking at the airport during the time in attendance at the conference may also be reimbursed. An original receipt is required.
  • Hotels, single room in a conference hotel for a maximum two nights; no incidentals -$200 per day.
  • Per diem (meals)—$50 per day (ALA rate).
  • Photocopying for handouts—$0.08 per page.

Conference program planners should inform speakers who require housing that:

  • ALA pays for the room and tax only. Incidentals (movies, telephone, etc.) must be paid by the speaker.
  • Room service or minibar service will be deducted from the per diem.

   9.7 Audiovisual equipment

The ALA Conference Services budget covers costs for basic audiovisual equipment such as: computers, overhead projectors, slide projectors, microphones, etc., for requests submitted by February 28.

All programs will have a standard AC room set including computer, projector, screen, and three microphones.  If your program requires more sophisticated equipment, contact the ACRL Senior Program Officer who will coordinate your equipment needs with Conference Services.

All approved programs will be audio recorded. Speakers must sign a release form and provide all presentations electronically. 

   9.8 Publicity

ALA and ACRL provide a number of opportunities to help you reach your targeted audience of ACRL members and academic librarians. Staff will handle the following publicity: 

  1. ALA online preliminary program (available on the ALA conference Web site in March)
  2. ACRL programs web page listing
  3. ALA online scheduler (available in April)
  4. ALA Cognotes, the daily conference newspaper
  5. Onsite program book

Program planners are encouraged to:

  1. In all publicity, refer to the most current program information at
  2. Publicize the program to local ACRL chapters 
  3. Publicize the program on your unit e-mail list
  4. Word of mouth —Tell your colleagues
  5. Sections: Publicize the program in section newsletters and create a program webpage

Please note:

  • Speakers can only be identified in pre-program publicity if a signed speaker agreement is on file at the ACRL office.
  • Press releases may not be issued by program planners on behalf of ACRL.  ACRL issues an official press release on its program offerings each spring; member planners are not authorized to do so individually.

   9.8.1 After the program

Do not forget that publicity does not stop with the conclusion of the formal program. Use this opportunity to communicate the success of the program to various audiences through follow-up articles to newsletters, discussion lists, etc.

As mentioned above, each year ACRL creates a Web page dedicated to the current year's programs.  In addition to listing the program title and description, ACRL encourages speakers to upload their presentations and/or materials in the ALA speaker system software so attendees can access the information.  If your program creates a Web site of its own, please notify Megan Griffin,, in order for ACRL to link to your page.

C&RL News is pleased to include brief summaries of your programs in the September issue. Contact David Connolly at to obtain guidelines for reporters. These summaries are due in late July.

   9.9 Guest registration

Guest registration privileges are provided to conference program speakers who are not librarians. Speaker agreements for all non-librarian speakers must be received by April 15 in order to guarantee complimentary registration for the day of their program.

   9.10 Important dates

February (16 months prior) ACRL units appoint program planning chairs. Members start planning proposal topics.

July (11 months prior) — ALA opens the program proposal site.

September ACRL program proposals due.

October — ACRL Professional Development Committee reviews programs and budget requests.

December— Staff notifies program planners of action. 

December — ACRL staff submit meeting requests for ACRL programs based on information provided in the ACRL program proposal form. Basic AV set-up requested for all programs (computer, LCD projector, screen, podium with microphone).

December - January — Program chairs identify speakers and finalize plans for their programs.

December — ALA announces program date/time assignments.

January — Planners submit preliminary program information (75 words) if changes have been made to ACRL Senior Program Officer.

Late January — Planners attend ACRL virtual meeting.

February — Final program description submitted to ACRL Senior Program Officer.

February Program planners submit speaker information into online speaker form.

February 24 — Deadline for submitting AV requests to ALA Conference Services.

March — ACRL sends speaker agreements

Early April — Signed speaker agreement letters due to ACRL.

April — Non-librarian speaker badge requests due.

May — ALA emails audio recording agreements to speakers and moderators.

May  —  Deadline for requesting VIP housing for conference speakers.

Late May — Registration confirmations emailed to non-librarian speakers

Early June — Program reporter contact information due to David Connolly,

Annual Conference — Program planners pick up evaluation bookmarks from ACRL table in ALA office in the convention center. Conduct program.

July — Honorarium checks mailed once speaker attendance is verified by program chair.

End of July — Conference program evaluation summaries due to ACRL Senior Program Officer.

July/August — Submit requests for reimbursement of budgeted expenses to ACRL Senior Program Officer.

August 15 — Deadline for reimbursement requests (ie. speaker travel, per diem, photocopying)

   9.11 No-Conflict meeting times

When scheduling meetings of a committee or section, the chair should note the all-conference no-conflict times listed in the instructions from the ACRL office. At the Annual and Midwinter conferences, section executive committee or divisional standing committee meetings should not be scheduled during the ACRL Board of Directors meetings if the committee/section has an action item before the Board or wishes to have the ACRL Board liaison attend their meetings.

    9.12 Cosponsorships

ACRL encourages cosponsorship of preconferences, institutes, or workshops, but planners need to consider carefully the fiscal and legal implications of cosponsorship. When ACRL receives a request for cosponsorship from an outside organization, another ALA division or unit, or an individual or group, the following procedures should be followed. All cosponsorships that commit ACRL resources require Board approval. Requests for cosponsorship could be for workshops, institutes, conferences and preconferences, or research projects. All activities which involve ACRL cosponsorship shall be reviewed and approved by the ACRL Board of Directors or the Executive Committee (depending on time constraints).

If you are in doubt regarding any requests for cosponsorship from an outside organization, another ALA division or unit, or an individual group, please call your staff liaison.

Proposals for cosponsorship must be submitted in writing and should contain the following information about the proposed activity:

  • a statement of the purposes and objectives;
  • a description of the program content and level;
  • an indication of the educational methods of materials to be used;
  • the qualifications of the individuals presenting the program; and
  • identification of other organizations involved in the program and the nature of their responsibilities, the anticipated benefits to ACRL, a proposed mechanism for evaluating program effectiveness, and a timetable for submission of evaluation to ACRL Board of Directors.

9.12.1 Cosponsorships—In Name Only of ALA programs

ACRL units may cosponsor “in name only” programs offered by other units of the American Library Association at the Annual Conference, Midwinter Meeting, or virtually. For these “in name only” sponsorships of ALA programs, Board approval is not required.  "In name only" is defined as meaning that no ACRL resources, including staff time or space in ACRL publications, would be requested. "In name only" means simply that the ACRL name will be used in conjunction with the hosting unit's promotions.

9.12.2 Cosponsorships—In Name Only for programs offered by non-ALA organizations

For “in name only” cosponsorships of programs/events offered by outside organizations, a full proposal as outlined in 9.8 must be submitted to the ACRL Board of Directors. Permitting another entity to show ACRL as a cosponsor of an event can make ACRL and ALA legally liable for claims arising from the event. Claims could range from defamation and infringement to personal injury claims to disabilities act claims. If ACRL’s name is used as a sponsor of the event, ACRL could be a co-defendant.

Because of this potential for liability should the Board wish to approve the cosponsorship of a program offered by an outside organization ACRL should obtain the following from the conference sponsors:
a) an indemnification from the main sponsor, in which the main sponsor agrees to pay any claims arising from the conference.
b) a written agreement which confirms that ALA has no responsibility for the costs and expenses of the conference.

   9.13 Evaluations

Each unit/individual program must encourage attendees to utilize the online evaluation for the program.  Evaluation reports will be shared with the PDC.

   9.14 Give-Away items

At the 2008 Annual Conference, a resolution (CD #58) was passed to ensure that all give-aways are purchased from "sweatshop free" producers. If your program purchases ANY give-away items for ALA members or potential members and use outside vendors, please contact ACRL Senior Program Officer Megan Griffin with:

  • Names and contact information for your external vendors
  • A general description of what you plan to purchase (t-shirts, tote bags, pens, etc.)

ACRL will work with the ALA-APA office to contact prospective vendors to determine their "sweatshop" policies and practices so that ACRL may comply with the resolution.

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