Chapter 5: ASCLA Meetings and Programs

General Issues

No-conflict meeting times

When scheduling meetings of a committee, the chair should note the all-conference no-conflict times that are listed in the communications from the ASCLA office. At Annual Conference, the ASCLA President's program and membership meeting are no conflict times within the division. They are usually scheduled on Sunday morning 8:30 or 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. No other ASCLA units or committees may schedule meetings or programs at that time.

No conflict program times

ALA has requested that each Division set a no-program period at Annual Conference. The purpose is to encourage members to spend time in the Exhibit Area. Division committee meetings may still be scheduled at this time. The ASCLA no-program period is Monday, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Conference program grid

The ASCLA Web site includes grids with schedules of Division programs, preconferences and meetings for Annual and Midwinter conferences. See the Events section of the ASCLA Web site. The grids can be consulted to avoid conflicts within ASCLA.

ASCLA Conference Program Coordinator

The Conference Program Coordinator serves as an ASCLA member peer consultant to program planners for ASCLA and its sections and committees for the purpose of developing a strong schedule of ASCLA sponsored programs at ALA Annual Conferences. The primary responsibility is to recommend the schedule of programs and allocation of program funds for approval by the ASCLA Board. The ASCLA Board must approve all programs scheduled at Annual Conference.

Specific responsibilities of the ASCLA Conference Program Coordinator are:

  • To coordinate, facilitate, and provide continuity in conference programming of the general sessions of the association for the ALA Annual Conference.
  • To review proposed programs of all units of the association for each ALA Annual Conference, for the purpose of avoiding duplication, ensuring appropriate cosponsorship within and outside the division, and complying with ALA conference program guidelines.
  • To present to the ASCLA Board of Directors at the required time a recommendation and budget proposal for the division, section, and other unit programs for each ALA Annual Conference.

Conference Meetings (committee or business meetings)

ASCLA sets an "All Committee" time at Midwinter and Annual Meetings. Most ASCLA-level committees meet in one room during this period. The time of the ASCLA All Committee Meeting is shown on the Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting program schedule grid in the Events section of the ASCLA Web site.

Other ASCLA committee chairs, section chairs, and section committee, forum and discussion group chairs receive communications from the ASCLA office to schedule committee meetings at Midwinter and Annual. Chairs select meeting times (observing the no-conflict times) and meeting room setup. The deadline for submitting a meeting room request for Midwinter is usually around September 30. The deadline for submitting an Annual Conference room request is usually around October 31. Meeting room requests are submitted using an online form.

Discussion Groups

For purposes of scheduling and listing in the ALA Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting program books, discussion groups are considered meetings rather than programs. The Conference Program book will only list the date, time, location of the meeting and name of the discussion group.

Even though the Conference Program book does not include descriptions of topics and speakers for discussion group meetings, these can be publicized in other ways. Announcements can be sent to Interface (due in March for the pre-Conference edition) and to electronic lists (in the months and weeks before the Conference). Descriptions can be submitted for the detailed ASCLA Conference listings on the ASCLA web site and for publication in Cognotes, the conference newsletter. Discussion group chairs can also submit camera-ready flyers to the ASCLA office for the literature distribution bins at the conference site. The Section can also assist in publicity. See the Tips for Writing Effective Copy.

Annual Conference Programs Planning

To receive consideration for scheduling and funding conference programs, ASCLA sections and committees must plan their programs and submit program proposals to the Conference Program Coordinator twelve months preceding the conference when the program will be presented. Preconference program proposals are due eigteeh months preceding the preconference. See guidelines for preconference planning. ASCLA sections and committees do not automatically receive funds and space for program meetings. They must justify requests on the individual merits of each proposed program.

It is important to ASCLA to encourage a diversity of committee activities that benefit both members who attend conference and those who do not. To better serve members who cannot attend meetings as well as the wider library community, committees and sections should consider the appropriateness of producing publications from their programs.

Criteria for programs

A Conference Program Chair should consider the following criteria in selecting a topic and format for an ALA Annual Conference Program. These are the same criteria that the ASCLA Conference Program coordinator will consider in recommending ASCLA Board approval for proposed programs.

Appropriateness of topic: Is the topic germane to ALA and ASCLA areas of interest and to librarianship and information services? Is the topic consistent with the ALA and ASCLA mission statements?

Breadth of appeal: Will the program appeal to a substantial number of conferees and meet their current interests and needs?

Appropriateness for conference format: Is the program best suited to the Annual Conference or to another site or form of presentation?

Tentative program description: Does the 75-word description accurately describe your plan for the program? Include potential speakers, program format, and a clear description of your vision for the program. Avoid catchy phrases that can be used later in promotional materials. This will help insure that your program is assigned to the track where it fits best.

Track selection: Please be sure to include first, second, and third choices for track selection. The Conference Program Coordinating Team tries to make assignments based on the first choice, but that is not always possible.

Cost: Does the program require special materials, exorbitant honoraria, extensive personnel for complex room set-ups, AV equipment not usually available in hotel conference facilities, or other special services?

Currency: Is the topic relevant to current needs or developing trends in the field?

Uniqueness: Has the topic been covered in a recent ALA unit program in or outside the Annual Conference? If so, how is this approach different? Is another unit planning a similar or related program in or outside the Annual Conference? If so, what would justify offering both programs?

Time slot: Is the desired time slot one of the most heavily scheduled periods (i.e., daytime slots, Saturday through Monday)? Are there other programs at the same time that might attract the same audience? Can the program be scheduled for a different time period? Please include an alternate day and time for the program. First choices will be honored unless there is a conflict within the track. If that is the case program chairs will be consulted.

Requesting time slot

The Conference program chair requests a time slot on the program proposal form. The chair then receives communications from the ASCLA office to request room size, set-up, and AV needs. The deadline for submitting an online Annual Meeting room request is usually around October 1.

Calendar for planning conference programs

(Information about specific deadlines will be sent directly to program chairs.)

  • Midwinter Meeting [18 months before program is to be presented]
  • Committee begins planning. Agree on topic, select program chair, and begin to identify speakers. They also discuss types of handouts, appoint any subcommittees, assign responsibilities, and identify potential cosponsors.

    May 15
  • Program chair submits proposal to the ASCLA office. This  Annual Conference Program and Preconference Proposal Form is available online in the ASCLA Forms section of the ASCLA Web site.

    Annual Conference [12 months before program is presented]

  • Section executive committee approves proposal and chair informs the ASCLA Conference Program Coordinator.

  • If the Annual Conference Program and Preconference Proposal Form is submitted for the first time at Annual Conference, it must be presented to the Conference Program Coordinator in time to include in the report and recommendation to the ASCLA Board. Assuming the Board will continue to hold its second meeting at annual on Monday afternoon, the Coordinator will need to get the forms by Sunday evening.
  • ASCLA Conference Program Coordinator compiles the proposals into a report with a recommendation for the program schedule and the funding requested. This is presented to the ASCLA Board for approval.
  • Program Committee meets to continue planning. Members select speakers, review drafts of handouts if available, and select cosponsors. They also consider applying for audio taping, decide if and when proceedings should be published, and start communications with Publication Committee.


  • ASCLA office notifies units of program approval and sends reminder of next steps.
  • Program chair contacts speakers to discuss program topics, format and AV needs.


  • Program chair submits a publication proposal if the committee wishes to publish the proceedings.

    October 30

  • ALA Conference Program Coordinating Team meets to assign programs to tracks. After that meeting the ASCLA representative on the Team informs program chairs of the final track assignment, date, and time.
  • All room, scheduling, and AV requests due in the ALA Conference Services Office. Program chair uses the online form to submit updated program information.


  • If the proceedings will be available for purchase at the ALA Annual Conference the program chair should submit copy to Publication Committee.

    Midwinter [6 months before proposed program]

  • Program committee finalizes plans. Members work out final details for program plans and room setup. They review assignment of responsibilities, finalize publicity plans, and finalize publication plans.
  • Program chair submits information for any news releases to the ASCLA staff.
  • Program chair uses the online form to submit updated program information.


  • Program chair submits final program copy only if there are any changes from the preliminary program copy.
  • Program chair submits publicity to Interface. The announcement developed for Interface can be re-edited to use for announcements to electronic lists, flyers, and Cognotes.
  • Program chair submits any changes in AV requests by March 1.


  • Decide if you wish to use the ASCLA Program Evaluation form (available below under "Related Files") or create your own.
  • Program chair confirms room, time, etc. with speakers. Program chair confirms that committee members will assist with helping speakers, distributing handouts, collecting evaluations, etc.

  • ASCLA staff prepares check requests for honoraria for approved non-librarian speakers.

    Annual Conference

  • One or two days before the program drop off an announcement about the program at the Cognotes Office.
  • Meet to review details, arrive at room one hour early to check setup.


  • Program chair submits requests for reimbursement of budgeted expenses and sends compiled program evaluation to ASCLA office.
  • Program Committee completes publications connected with the program.
  • Program Chair sends Thank You notes to the speakers and others who helped with the program.

Publicity for programs

The best bet for reaching a targeted audience of ASCLA members is Interface. Other publicity avenues include Cognotes, the daily conference newspaper, and postings to electronic discussion lists and the ASCLA Web site.

Of limited use are the literature distribution tables at ALA conferences. ASCLA only receives three baskets and uses them in the following manner: one for discussion group announcements, one for program announcements and the last for special projects. Groups that wish to participate should send the ASCLA office camera-ready copy and the office copies and assembles the flyers into the baskets. It is often helpful for a Section to prepare one flyer listing all of the programs, discussion group meetings and other events of interest to Section members. Copy is due in the ASCLA office six weeks before the conference.

Tips for writing effective copy

When writing or editing preliminary program copy, remember that you are writing copy to market a product. You must not only provide the required information, but also present it convincingly. Write the copy as if you had to justify program attendance to your boss.

The copy should answer the following questions:

  • Who should attend?
  • Why is the topic important?
  • What will program attendees gain to help them do their jobs better?
  • What bonus information will attendees gain? Are there special handouts or freebies?
  • Who is speaking and what are their credentials?
  • How will the program be conducted? (panel, speakers, small group interaction)
  • Is advance registration required? What are the fees?
  • When is the program?
  • Where is the program? (If it is off-site or requires advance arrangements, say so.)

After writing or editing the copy, read it aloud or show it to someone else. Does it interest you? Would you want to attend the program after reading the copy? Did you leave anything out?

When writing copy, remember:

  • Place the most important information first.
  • More is not necessarily better. Nothing is more intimidating to a reader than a long, jargon-filled description. Keep it simple. Keep it short.
  • Use the active, not passive voice.
  • Write your copy and then rewrite it, edit out words and phrases that contribute nothing.

Publications from programs

Frequently, programs lend themselves to excellent publications. Depending on the scope, the program may be the basis for an Interface article, an occasional paper, or some other type of publication. The key to success is to begin planning for the publication in the early stages. Contact the ASCLA office for assistance. Have a member of the Program Committee meet with the ASCLA Publications Committee to discuss the ideas for a publication.


ASCLA has a program evaluation form that is available to all ASCLA units sponsoring programs at the Annual Conference ( see "Related Files" below). The evaluation results should be tabulated and summarized by the sponsoring Section(s) or Committee(s) and sent to the ASCLA office within a month of the program.

Funding for conference programs

Basic allocations

Each division receives an annual allocation of $1,500 from ALA to support its programs at the Annual Conference. The ASCLA Conference Program Coordinator recommends to the ASCLA Board how the $1,500 should be allocated among the program proposals. Most Conference Programs do not need a funding allocation. Use the following guidelines, if you wish to request program funding. The Annual Conference Program and Preconference Proposal Form includes a section for estimated program costs.

The allocation may be used for support materials for programs (e.g., handouts, bibliographies), special equipment, and for non-librarian speakers. Audio-visual equipment is covered from the Conference Services budget if ordered before the deadline (usually March 1st).

Outside funding

It is important to coordinate all requests for funding. Therefore, ALA has discouraged the divisions from seeking funding from vendors for a variety of minor program expenses. It is appropriate to seek vendor support for a reception but committees should check with the ASCLA executive director first to ensure that vendors do not receive competing requests from ASCLA units. The program chair forwards any program donations to the ASCLA office immediately upon receipt.

Travel, per diem, honoraria

ALA does not provide travel funds, per diem, or honoraria to librarians or members of the association who participate in the Annual Conference. Program chairs should inform all speakers of this policy. Non-librarian speakers are eligible for a one-day speaker's badge.

If the contract for a non-librarian speaker specifies hotel and per diem, the program chair should inform the speaker that ALA will pay for the room and the room tax. Incidentals (telephone, valet, movies, etc.) are to be paid by the speaker. Room service or minibar service may be charged against the per diem.

Speakers who are eligible for reimbursement must submit original receipts and a member/nonmember expense form to the program chair, who submits it to the office. Reimbursement requests are due in the ASCLA office within one month after conference.

Estimating costs for programs

The actual budget will, of course, depend on the nature of the program, the conference city, whether the speakers are librarians or not. Contact the ASCLA office for current estimates for hotel, meals, transportation, and photocopying.

ASCLA does not support any meal or beverage service for conference program meetings. Preconferences pay for all meal and beverage services from the revenues they generate.


Cosponsorship opportunities may arise one of two ways: 1) ASCLA (or one of its units or committees) may be asked to cosponsor a program with another ALA unit or committee or an outside organization or 2) ASCLA (or an ASCLA unit or committee) may ask another ALA unit or committee or an outside organization to cosponsor an ASCLA (or ASCLA unit or committee) program.

When ASCLA cosponsorship is requested, the request shall be reviewed first by the ASCLA Conference Program Coordinator and then submitted to the ASCLA Board of Directors for approval. When a section is asked to cosponsor a program, the section Executive Committee makes the decision. When the division requests cosponsorship from outside the division, the approval decision then rests with the other party.

Preconferences and Workshops

Preconferences are scheduled before the Annual Conference and workshops are scheduled before the Midwinter Conference. These are longer programs, usually half-day or full day. Participants register for these events and pay additional registration fees. Planning a preconference begins 24 - 18 months before the event and involves a separate budgeting process. The  Annual Conference Program and Preconference Proposal Form, used to describe the proposed Preconference or Workshop, is due 18 months preceding the preconference. The  Preconference/Workshop Program Planning online form which provides more detail to assist ASCLA staff in setting a budgeting and registration fee for the Preconference or Workshop is due 12 months preceding the preconference.

The Preconference or Workshop planning timeline can be compressed if all of the steps are followed. This can happen if the program is well formed and the speakers committed at the time of submitting the forms and requesting approval from the ASCLA Board.

It is important to ASCLA to encourage a diversity of committee activities that benefit both members who attend conference and those who do not. To better serve members who cannot attend meetings as well as the wider library community, preconference planners should consider the appropriateness of producing publications from their programs.

Preconference planning calendar

  • Annual Conference [two years prior to when preconference will be presented]
  • Committee begins planning and agrees on topic. Members also select preconference chair, outline the program and begin to identify speakers. The committee also appoints any subcommittees and assigns responsibilities, discusses handouts, drafts the budget, and identifies potential cosponsors.


  • Preconference chair submits proposal to the ASCLA office no later than one month before Midwinter Meeting. This   Annual Conference Program and Preconference Proposal Form is available online in the ASCLA Forms section of the ASCLA Web site.

    Midwinter Meeting [18 months before preconference will be presented]

  • Section Executive Committee approves preconference proposal.
  • ASCLA Conference Program Coordinator evaluates proposal and submits it to the ASCLA Board with a recommendation for approval.
  • Preconference Committee meets to continue planning.

    Annual Conference [12 months before preconference is presented]

  • Committee continues planning for speakers, handouts, selection of cosponsors. Committee members review budget, discuss potential publications, and publicity.


  • Chair submits Preconference Program Planning form. This  Preconference Workshop Planning Form is available online in the ASCLA Forms section of the ASCLA Web site.
  • Staff finalizes the budget.


  • Preconference chair submits proposal to Publications Committee if the proceedings are to be published.


  • Preconference chair confirms arrangements with speakers.
  • Preconference chair submits information for news releases to the ASCLA staff.
  • ASCLA staff sends general announcement about all ASCLA preconferences to Interface.

    October 1

  • Staff submits meeting request form and orders for AV equipment.


  • ASCLA staff sends out letters of agreement to speakers receiving either honoraria or reimbursement of expenses (usually only available to nonlibrarians).
  • If the proceedings will be available for purchase at the ALA Annual Conference, the program chair should submit copy to the Publications Committee.

    Midwinter [six months before proposed program]

  • Preconference chair and committee review details for program.
  • Staff submits preliminary program copy information.


  • Staff submits final program copy.


  • Preconference chair confirms program details with speakers.
  • Preconference chair sends ASCLA staff originals of handouts that will be reproduced.
  • Preconference chair may request ASCLA Participant Evaluation forms ( see "Related Files" below).
  • If proceedings will be published after the preconference, chair should have all copy by this time and should submit to Publications Committee.

    Annual Conference

  • Preconference chair and committee: meet to review details, arrive early to check setup and greet speakers.


  • Preconference chair completes any publications connected with the program.
  • Preconference chair submits all requests for reimbursement.
  • Preconference chair submits evaluation of program to ASCLA staff.
  • Preconference chair sends Thank You notes to the speakers and others who helped with the program.

Preconference budgets

Preconference budgets are different from program budgets in that they do not receive financial support from ALA. The following guidelines apply to preconferences.

ALA policy states that "all institutes, workshops, etc., sponsored by ALA and/or its units shall be self-supporting and shall include provision for ALA administrative cost." The ALA administrative cost, or overhead, is determined annually and is a percentage of the income (excluding donations)

Registration fees for preconferences must be set at a level to meet all costs of each preconference, including staff costs. In addition, preconferences are expected to generate net revenue to provide seed money for future educational programs.

Because ASCLA is responsible for preconference costs, the ASCLA executive director must give final approval to the budget and the registration fee. No registration fees should be publicized until ASCLA executive director approval has been received.

Elements included in the budget:

Printing costs
Publicity materials and advertising, registration materials (handouts, lists of registrants), registration folders, nametags.

Publicity mailings, registration confirmation, other mailings and correspondence as needed.

AV, computer equipment
Audio visual and computer utilization are significant expenses and grow huge when ordered late in the scheduling process.

Speaker Expenses
Usually only non-librarian speakers are eligible to receive honoraria or reimbursement of expenses.

Meeting Space
If the preconference is not held in one of the conference hotels or the convention center, the registration fees will have to cover room rental.

Expenses for free registrants (meals, registration packets, badges)
Include speakers and presenters in this category, as well as staff and members of the preconference planning committee.

Food functions
Most preconferences have a midmorning coffee break, and afternoon coffee and soft drinks. Some preconferences have been able to include lunch as well, but with ever increasing costs, this has become harder to finance.

ALA overhead
The ALA overhead is assessed on registration revenue and is set annually by ALA. The rate average is 20%.

ASCLA office expenses
Photocopying, fax charges, and postage.