Chapter 1: Organization
Local Arrangements Committee Organization, Functions, and Communication:
The Local Arrangements Committee is responsible for a wide range of activities including arrangements for hotel and meeting rooms, exhibits, equipment for speakers, group meals, off-site events, transportation, and registration.
The size and structure of a MAALL Local Arrangements Committee will, of course, vary with the location and number of law librarians available to help.
A large city may have enough people to divide up into subcommittees and assign each a particular area to work on. Having a lot of people involved is great, but this means that coordination and communication become more critical and complex. With this type of a structure, it is essential that the Chairs of each subcommittee work very closely together with the overall Chair as a “Steering Committee.” Regular meetings and frequent email communications are recommended!
In a smaller location, a single individual may be assigned a particular function or multiple functions. Regular meetings and communications among all involved are still essential!
[Note: Throughout this Manual, the terms “Chair” and “Committee” are used to refer to the person(s) responsible for a particular function.]
Regardless of the size, try to clearly define at the outset who will do what, so you don't for example, have both Registration and Publicity gathering brochures about local attractions, President and Exhibits talking to vendors about sponsorship, or Equipment and Program Chair contacting speakers about audiovisual needs. As issues arise that don't seem to be assigned to anyone, agree on who will handle and be sure that the decision is communicated to everyone!
Regardless of the structure, the following functions will need to be carried out. This Manual has a separate chapter describing each in detail:
Budget: Develop cost and income estimates for all aspects of the meeting. Work closely with the President regarding budget approval and fund-raising. This is normally a function of the Local Arrangements Committee Chair.
Hotel: Locate a suitable hotel; negotiate and sign contract. Make arrangements for meeting rooms and Hospitality/Internet Room, equipment for speakers, setups for exhibitors, phone or Internet connections, selection of menu and serving arrangements for group meals, arrangements for hotel rooms for AALL representative, any other special guests, and any speakers whose expenses are being paid for by MAALL. (Several of these functions are also included in other sections below, such as Equipment, Food, and Hospitality.)
Scheduling: Coordinate scheduling of programs, meals and other events. The Local Arrangements Chair needs to work closely with the Program Chair and the President to arrange times and locations for all activities.
Equipment and Meeting Rooms:
Make arrangements for proper setup of meeting rooms and acquisition of equipment for all programs and meetings.
Events: Identify attractions or libraries which would be suitable for reception, dinner or tours. Select and plan off-site events, which includes negotiating costs, making arrangements with contacts at the attraction or library, hiring caterers and selecting menus, and arranging for transportation and parking. Plan any special on-site meeting activities.
Exhibits: Contact potential vendor exhibitors, determine exhibit fees and hours, coordinate registration of vendor exhibitors and arrangements for their equipment and telecommunications needs.
Food: Budget for and select food (and caterer for off-site events), coordinate service. The same committee might handle food at both the hotel and off-site events, or a separate Events Committee might deal with off-site caterers.
Arrange for and staff Hospitality Room at hotel, stock with food and drink, serve as host. May also include arrangements for Internet connections so meeting participants can check email.
Publications: Produce printed materials such as signs, printed meeting program, tickets, flyers, etc.
Publicity and Local Information:
Produce web page with meeting information, send meeting announcements to MAALL membership and other library organizations, and press releases to local general or legal publications. Gather or prepare and distribute information about local attractions, restaurants, etc.
Registration: Prepare and send out registration materials, receive registration forms and payments, maintain records of registrants. Prepare meeting name badges, tickets, and packets; staff registration desk at meeting, which includes distributing meeting packets and handling on-site registrations.
Transportation: Arrange for transportation for all off-site events; provide maps, driving and parking instructions, etc.
Coordination and communication are critical to the success of a MAALL meeting. This includes not just communication among the Local Arrangements Committee members, but also with the MAALL President, Program Chair (usually the Vice President) and Treasurer.
Committee: The Local Arrangements Committee (or Steering Committee in larger locations) should meet regularly to thoroughly review progress in every area. Meetings should begin about a year in advance. If the Committee is divided into subcommittees, the full Committee should meet 2 or 3 times to be sure everyone is kept informed.
9-12 months before the meeting: only 1 or 2 meetings may be needed
3-8 months before the meeting: monthly meetings recommended
2-0 months before the meeting: biweekly or weekly meetings recommended
Local Arrangements Chair, President, and Program Chair:
MAALL meeting the year before: If possible, the Local Arrangements Chair should meet with the incoming President and Program Chair at the MAALL meeting the year before the meeting to be planned. This is a good time to discuss a general approach to communications and responsibilities. It should be determined clearly from the outset who is responsible for budget approvals, who contacts vendors or speakers, etc.
AALL the summer before: The Local Arrangements Chair, President and Program Chair should meet at AALL to review progress in all areas, identify any outstanding issues, and determine deadlines and responsibilities. Particularly critical at this point is determining when registration packets will be mailed. The Local Arrangements Chair must have reasonably complete program information from the Program Chair to send with the packets so appropriate deadlines and method of communicating this information should be determined.
Email lists: In addition to having regular meetings, email communications can be an effective way to keep everyone informed. Set up an email group list for the Local Arrangements Committee (and Steering Committee, if the Committee is large). Use it to announce meetings and keep everyone informed of developments.
Also set up a listing that includes the President and the Program Chair. Include them on all relevant communications. Especially, include the President on any communications that involve budget, exhibits and vendors. Include the Program Chair on communications about meeting rooms and equipment. Both might need to be involved on some communications about events, registration, etc.
Web page: A web page can be a great way to provide information to MAALL members and any other interested persons about the meeting and the location. Get your web site up as soon as there is enough firm information to do so, and publicize it to the MAALL membership. Add to it and update it often. Be sure that all committee members forward electronic files of any forms, flyers schedules, etc. they produce to the Webmaster so that he/she can post them on the web page.
MAALL list: Use the MAALL listserv to post announcements and reminders about the meeting: MAALL@wuvmd.wustl.edu
Don’t re-invent the wheel! Contact previous Local Arrangements Chairs with your questions, especially the most recent Chair or one who handled a meeting in a similar type of location. They may or may not remember everything you want to know, or still have records on details you're wondering about, but nothing ventured, nothing gained! All undoubtedly can think of things they would do differently if they had it to do over. Learn from previous MAALL experiences.
When you become a previous Chair:
When that day finally comes, you’ll no doubt be eager to “close the books” and get back to your regular job! But remember what it felt like when you started! Take a little time to sort through your materials and pass on to your successor anything you think might be useful. Copies of forms, specific information on costs and quantities, and notes on what did or didn’t work are especially useful for planning.
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