Conference AV Costs Skyrocket

Katherine Walter, Chair, ALCTS Budget and Finance Committee

You may have heard that ALA and ALCTS are looking at ways to hold down the costs of doing business at conferences. At the 2005 Boston Midwinter Meeting, the ALCTS Budget and Finance Committee (B&F) learned that ALCTS use more technology for their program than most other divisions. This probably comes as no surprise to many of you who are wedded to computers and love your PowerPoint. What was a surprise to B&F is the rate at which AV costs have climbed in the last few years. Since 1999, the costs for AV at Midwinter Meetings have risen 50 percent, while AV costs for Annual Conferences have risen 30 percent. Though gross revenues have held steady or risen slowly, net revenues have fallen by as much as 50 percent. In actual dollar figures, costs for connections at conference have reached the upper altitudes. Expenses in 1999 were $430,000, while in 2005 they are projected to be $768,000.

Over the last two years, the range for some selected AV costs (depending upon convention city contracts) per meeting session has been as follows:

Equipment Cost

Overhead projector with stand



up to $50

LCD projector (5200 lumens)


35" monitor


Laptop computer with modem


Power strip with surge protection


Wireless mouse


Laser pointer


DVD player


Internet connections vary greatly depending upon the location of the conference, but always include a set-up charge, a connect charge, and phone line charges at the highest daytime rate. The additional labor charges range from 33–50 percent of the total AV costs. Thus, if you have AV that costs $900, the labor charge range will typically be $300 to $450. The total expense in such an instance will range from $1,200 to $1,350.

To save costs, ALCTS has proposed to ALA that programs needing similar types of AV be scheduled in rooms that are set up for the entire day in order to avoid multiple set-up charges.