Chapter 5: Planning and Promoting Meetings and Programs

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RUSA offers three types of on-site professional development opportunities:

  • Midwinter Institutes, held at the beginning of ALA Midwinter Meeting
  • Preconferences, held at the beginning of ALA Annual Conference
  • Programs, held during ALA Annual Conference

Other types of events that are scheduled for both Midwinter and Annual are:

  • Committee or Interest Group meetings
  • Discussion groups
  • Special events, including awards ceremonies, receptions and functions such as the Literary Tastes Breakfast

The primary contact for programs and institutes/preconferences, committee meetings, discussion groups and other special events will be the RUSA Program Officer-Continuing Education.


No-conflict meeting times:

ALA Conference Services is responsible for scheduling all meetings. At Annual Conference, the RUSA President’s program and membership meeting is a no-conflict time within the division. Every effort will be made to ensure that RUSA units or committees meetings, and programs are not scheduled to conflict with these events.

Annual Conference programs:

The ALA Conference Redesign process of 2017 established more limited parameters for conference programming. Under the revised process, RUSA must follow the ALA structure for hosting programs. The ALA Conference Committee allots a fixed number of programs to each division each year. The ALA Conference Committee centralizes program submissions, screens the proposals, and forwards proposals to divisions according to appropriateness of content. Sections and Interest Groups are not guaranteed a program slot, however they are invited to submit conference proposals in the same manner as all ALA members. All submissions are reviewed in a two-step process:

    1. The RUSA Conference Planning Coordinating Committee (CPCC) serves as the RUSA jury and reviews all submissions received from the ALA Conference Committee. The CPCC selects the programs to recommend to the ALA Conference Planning Committee.
      • The CPCC evaluates submissions based on the ALA Proposal Review Guidelines Rubric, established annually. The most recent rubric can be found under FAQ: Conferences
      • The CPCC further considers additional criteria as agreed upon by the CPCC and the RUSA Board to reflect the specific mission of RUSA and its members. These criteria will be included in the call for proposals.
    2. The ALA Conference Planning Committee (CPC) reviews all recommended programs and selects the final slate of programs that will be presented at Annual.

It is important for RUSA 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 and explore options for hosting programming using virtual platforms that allow for increased participation.

Limit on number of section programs:

The ALA Conference Redesign established new, more limited parameters for conference programming. As such, RUSA will no longer be able to guarantee a program to any specific group or section. To the best of its ability, the RUSA CPCC will strive to select the highest quality program submissions that meet the criteria and provide an overall balanced program addressing the interests of the sections of RUSA.

Publicity for programs:

Use the various social media available to RUSA and its sections. RUSA Update calendar and submit a news item to be posted.

Tips for writing effective copy:

When writing or editing preliminary program copy, remember that the purpose of the copy is to market a product. Provide the required information convincingly. Write the copy as if you had to justify program attendance to your boss. General:

  • Put the primary information right up front in titles and descriptions (think of reading on mobiles/ devices).
  • “Clever” titles and copy may fail to communicate the real value of the content.
  • Make your first 100 words stand alone as a compelling and useful description.
  • No uninformative placeholder titles or copy such as: “Copy to come later,” or “TBD.” It’s possible to write strong generic copy. “After this opportunity to discuss [topic] with other specialists in this area, attendees will leave the session with new perspectives on [topic].”


  • Focus on outcomes for the attendee rather than wordy descriptions.
  • Don’t include any copy that doesn’t tell the reader something about the program itself.
  • Avoid starting with a sentence such as, “In this program, five panelists will talk about [repeat of program title].
  • Avoid generalizations that everyone already knows such as, “In libraries today, technology is increasingly important.” “Librarians are busy people.”
  • Start with concrete benefits of attending the program, and something that gets the reader’s attention:
    • Are you responsible for [topic] in your library? You will leave this program with five new ideas you can implement that will help you . . .
    • Learn about recent developments [as specific as possible] in [topic] and how they affect your work. Jane Doe will use case studies from six school libraries to . . .
    • Get strategies for streamlining your [something] so it takes less time each day.

Publications from programs:

Programs frequently lend themselves to excellent publications. Depending on the scope the program may be the basis for a RUSQ 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 RUSA office for assistance.


All RUSA programs will be evaluated. RUSA has a program evaluation form that is distributed to all presenters for use at Annual Conference.

Funding for conference programs:

Each division receives an annual allocation of $1,500 from ALA to support its programs at the Annual Conference. In addition, RUSA provides $3,500 from its budget to support the programs. The RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee recommends to the RUSA Board how the $5,000 should be allocated among the program proposals. The RUSA president’s program receives first priority. The allocation may be used to support non-librarian speakers and other expenses. Audio-visual equipment is covered from the Conference Services budget if ordered before the deadline (usually March 1st). ALA Conference Services covers the cost of audio-visual equipment only for RUSA’s allotted programs on the conference schedule.

Outside funding:

The RUSA executive director and the Vendor Relations Liaison coordinate all requests for outside funding. 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 RUSA executive director first to ensure that vendors do not receive competing requests from RUSA units. The program chair forwards any program donations to the RUSA office immediately upon receipt.

Travel, per diem, honoraria:

ALA does not provide travel funds, per diem, or honoraria to librarians, those who work in libraries, 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 one-day complimentary conference registration. 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. Only the RUSA executive director can execute a speaker contract on behalf of the division. 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 RUSA office. Reimbursement requests are due in the RUSA office within one month after conference. RUSA 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.


Co-sponsorships are encouraged by ALA and co-sponsored programs may receive priority during the review process. Co-sponsorship opportunities may arise one of two ways: 1) RUSA (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) RUSA (or an RUSA unit or committee) may ask another ALA unit or committee or an outside organization to cosponsor an RUSA (or RUSA unit or committee) program. When RUSA co-sponsorship is requested, the request shall be reviewed first by the Conference Program Coordinating Committee and then submitted to the RUSA Board of Directors for approval. When a section is asked to co-sponsor a program, the section Executive Committee makes the decision. When the division requests co-sponsorship from outside the division, the approval decision then rests with the other party.

Preconference/Institute workshop budgets:

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

  • 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/institute, including staff costs.
  • Preconferences are expected to generate net revenue to provide seed money for future educational programs.
  • Because RUSA is responsible for preconference/institute costs, the RUSA executive director must give final approval to the budget and the registration fee.
  • Registration fees can only be finalized after the budget has been approved and no registration fees should be publicized until RUSA executive director approval has been received.
  • Except in unusual circumstances, only official members of the preconference/institute program planning committee may attend the preconference/institute at no charge. Source: RASD Board, February, 1994

Elements included in the budget:

Corporate Sponsorship: Corporate sponsors may be asked to support program or meal costs. Sponsors must be approved by the ALA Development Office and must be registered as Exhibitors for the Conference. Printing costs: Publicity materials and advertising, registration materials (handouts, lists of registrants), registration folders, name tags. Postage Publicity mailings, registration confirmation, other mailings and correspondence as needed. AV, computer equipment Speaker Expenses: See above to ensure that speakers are eligible to incur 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. Any off-site locations must have a contract with insurance. Only the ALA Executive Director is authorized to sign such a contract. Expenses for free registrants: meals, registration packets, badges, etc. Include speakers and presenters in this category, as well as staff and members of the preconference planning committee. Food functions: Most preconferences have a mid-morning 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 26%. RUSA office expenses: Photocopying that RUSA staff does for the preconference will be charged back to the preconference, as will fax charges, and postage.

Discussion Groups

Discussion groups are an important opportunity for people to collaborate to solve problems, brainstorm new ideas and learn from their peers. Each section and interest group will be offered one discussion group at Annual Conference, with the topic or topics covered at the discretion of the individual section or interest group based upon the needs of their members. Topics and session descriptions will be collected by the RUSA office approximately 5-6 months prior to Annual Conference for printing in all Annual Conference marketing materials. If a section or interest group believes that additional discussion groups would be beneficial for members, the RUSA office will coordinate with the group to utilize an online platform during other times of the year.

Committee Meetings

Due to increasingly limited meeting space available at Midwinter and Annual, committees are encouraged to take advantage of online meeting opportunities when possible. Each section will be allotted one “all-committee” meeting slot where the various committees of a section can meet separately or together. In addition, RUSA will have another “all-committee” meeting slot where committees of RUSA or sections may meet to work. The time and location of all meetings is set by ALA Conference Services. Every effort will be made to ensure that section meetings do not conflict with other section programming.

(The RUSA Office is in charge of updating) Rev. 08/2018