Questions and Answers

Questions about next year's conference
Q 1: What do I need to know about the San Antonio Annual Meeting?

Questions about proposing a program or workshop
Q 2: Who can propose a program or workshop for an AALL Annual Meeting?
Q 3: I have never submitted a program or workshop proposal. What is the basic process?
Q 4: What questions should my proposal answer?
Q 5: Are the process and the guidelines the same for proposing a pre-conference workshop?
Q 6: What kind of programs do AALL Annual Meeting attendees need?
Q 7: What recommendations does the AMPC have for developing a great proposal?
Q 8: When will I learn the status of my submitted proposal?

Questions about speakers
Q 9: Where should I look to identify potential speakers?
Q 10: What about nonmember speakers?
Q 11: How do I handle requests for honoraria for nonmember speakers?
Q 12: Are proposals with speakers from all three types of libraries more likely to be accepted?

Other questions
Q 13: What role do AALL’s entities (SISs, chapters, caucuses, committees, etc.) play in the programming process?
Q 14: Can an SIS produce its own programs outside of AMPC-selected programming?
Q 15: Will there be any other opportunities for members to present educational content?
Q 16: What is the role of the Annual Meeting Program Committee?
Q 17: If I have other questions, who should I contact?

Q 1: What do I need to know about the San Antonio Annual Meeting?


Building on momentum of learner-centric programming
You may be aware of the recent upgrades made to AALL's conference education.  If you went to the 2013 Annual Meeting and Conference in Seattle, you may have even attended some programs that reflected these changes.  Programs were solicited and selected in an effort to intentionally curate a more relevant slate of educational programming, and were developed to better engage the audience and deliver the promised takeaways. 

Sounds pretty lofty, right?  But the success of Seattle's programming shows that it's do-able - and you'd be surprised by the impact small adjustments can have on a program's reception.  And of course, we have provided many resources to help you along the way, from proposal development all the way to program delivery.  Being a part of the programming experience can be incredibly rewarding.

Member-identified content and collaboration
AALL recently conducted a survey of the AALL membership to determine the kinds of programming most needed by members. The AMPC seeks programs reflecting these content areas to ensure that San Antonio’s programming lineup is more practical and relevant than ever before. Members are encouraged to find inspiration in these results, and to work with colleagues (for instance, those within SISs, chapters, or caucuses, or across library types) to develop outstanding programming ideas, identify dynamic speakers, and craft engaging sessions.

A schedule that offers the "right fit"
The conference schedule for San Antonio is again designed to keep the focus on education – the #1 reason for attending. In addition to the standard session lengths (of 45, 60, 75 and 90 minutes) and pre-conference workshops (half a day up to two days), deep dives (2-3 hours) will continue to be a part of this year’s programming.

Hearing vs. Learning
Starting at the proposal process, we encourage you to rethink the way that people learn, to develop takeaways that attendees can apply in their jobs, and to deliver content in engaging ways. Please review the proposer resources provided for more details.

Blind review
Simply put, the AMPC is looking for great proposals that offer solutions. The committee will evaluate proposals without knowledge of the proposer. Since proposals should address the needs identified by members, sponsorship of proposals is no longer relevant.

Curated content
The AMPC is expecting a fantastic batch of proposals. Proposers should tap into the wealth of experiences and expertise among AALL members and those in the greater legal information community to curate programming that delivers solutions.  If, however, there are critical content areas that are not addressed (or adequately addressed) in the proposals received, the AMPC will work with AALL members (especially SISs) to develop this programming during the winter.   

Q 2: Who can propose a program or workshop for the AALL Annual Meeting?

A: Any individual or group can propose programs or workshops. The AMPC encourages everyone to propose programming that helps law librarians as they face their many and diverse responsibilities. AALL’s entities (SISs, chapters, committees, caucuses) can provide a wealth of resources in terms of connecting members for collaboration and helping to identify potential speakers. 

Q 3: I have never submitted a program or workshop proposal.  What is the basic process?

A.   Proposals:

Proposals are due to AALL on October 7, 2013. The official call for proposals highlights educational needs identified by AALL members in the needs assessment survey – it is around these needs that the AMPC will structure educational programming. Please review all available resources to assist you in the proposal process, including suggestions, guidelines and criteria. As you work on the proposal, ask a colleague to review it to ensure that your description, takeaways, and other information are clear, interesting, and relevant. (The program and workshop proposal collection web site features a ‘share’ function.)

B.   Selection:

After the proposal deadline, the Annual Meeting Program Committee spends several weeks reviewing, evaluating, and scoring all submitted proposals for programs and workshops. Scores are compiled, averaged, and used by the committee members during the selection meeting, which takes place about six weeks after the submission deadline. Working to achieve programming that reflects the various needs, experience levels and interests of AALL members at the selection meeting, the committee deliberates and selects the most relevant, engaging, and well-developed programs/workshops for the upcoming Annual Meeting.

C.   Coordination:

Once the selections are made, an AMPC member will notify each proposer by phone as to whether his or her proposal has been accepted (or declined), and confirm the contact information for the coordinator (in many cases the same individual who proposed the program). If phone contact cannot be made after two tries in a seven-day period, an email will be sent to the proposer.

The coordinators identify and confirm speakers, develop a program plan for engaging the audience and ensuring that takeaways are delivered, help with program material submissions, and work within established deadlines to carry the process through to the Annual Meeting. The coordinator may elect to serve as a moderator and/or speaker but is not required to do so. The process is challenging but rewarding for proposers and coordinators. AMPC liaisons and AALL staff will be there to help you along the way.

Q 4: What questions should my proposal answer?

Your proposal should answer the following questions:
  • What are the takeaways that attendees will be able to use and apply to perform their jobs better? 
  • How would you describe the problem/opportunity/scenario/challenge that reflects the takeaways? 
  • Who needs to attend this session? 
  • How much time is needed to effectively deliver this content? 
  • What methods do you plan to employ to engage attendees and keep the energy level up? 
  • Who should deliver this content, and why is he/she qualified to do it? (If this person is not an AALL member, are there anticipated expenses?)
Q 5: Are the process and guidelines the same for proposing a preconference workshop?

Yes. Though a preconference workshop is longer – normally one half day or a full day, but sometimes as long as two days – the selection process is the same. All members of the AMPC review, rate, and comment upon these proposals, just as they do with the program proposals.

Note, however, that workshops are self-sustaining. The separate registration fees charged for preconference workshops must cover all costs associated with the workshops, including speaker fees, equipment charges, any food and beverages charges, transportation costs (if needed) and production of handout materials. Associated costs are not covered by AALL. Be aware that if your workshop proposal is accepted by the AMPC, AALL staff will work with you very early on to build a budget and establish a registration fee (before conference registration opens). Since all costs must be covered by registration fees, AALL must consider whether a workshop’s costs would result in prohibitively high registrant fees.

Q 6: What kind of programs do AALL Annual Meeting attendees need?

A: Please review the findings of the recent needs assessment survey, conducted to identify current educational needs; proposals should align with these identified needs.

Recent AALL surveys and Annual Meeting data collection efforts provide this snapshot:

  • Registrants are highly experienced; 74% are mid-career; 67% have management responsibilities, and average 13.7 years as a librarian
  • Annual Meeting attendance: 72% female; 28% male
  • Division of AALL membership by institution: Firm - 31%; Academic - 41%; Government – 10%; Court - 7%; Corporate – 4%; Other 7%
  • Average membership in AALL: 10 years
  • 99% support AALL’s Government Relations Office and information policy involvement
  • 99% support the consumer advocacy component
  • 52% of firm librarians are in firms with fewer than 80 attorneys; 48% of firm librarians are in firms with 80+ attorneys
  • 29% have JD degrees; 15% are members of a bar
  • Employers pay fees for 90% of registrants; programming needs to address employers’ concerns

You may also wish to review the Program Tracks based on Competencies of Law Librarianship and the current Strategic Directions. Talk with your colleagues, your friends, and individuals in your organization, firm, or institution. Review the call for proposals for some suggestions from the AMPC and the incoming president.

Try the following as well:

  • Monitor legal and librarian listservs, including the AALLNET communities.
  • Take note of interesting issues and topics in journal and newspaper articles.
  • Review programming from other association meetings, and think about good programs that you have attended at other professional meetings.
  • Look at the AALL Annual Meeting programs presented in previous years and see if there is a new twist, different or advanced information, or a need to repeat the same topic.
  • Think about frequently-asked questions you hear in your daily practice as sources for program topics.
  • Think strategically about offering innovative programs that focus on the future of the profession.
  • Consider case studies that have practical, “real world” applications.

Q 7: What recommendations does the AMPC have for developing a great proposal?  


  • Set realistic goals and fully develop your proposal.
  • Think about solutions to workplace challenges, and practical tools and ideas that attendees can apply once they’re back to work. Use the recent needs assessment as a guide. What are the hot topics buzzing around your SIS or chapter?
  • Think creatively about format, especially about ways to encourage attendees to work together to share experiences, brainstorm, or solve a problem. 
  • Be clear and concise with your takeaways and description. Keep in mind that your most critical reader may be a law firm CEO, law school administrator, or court administrator trying to decide whether or not to let your potential audience member attend. Please try to keep your description to fewer than 100 words. 
  • Think about the length of time needed to best deliver the content of your program or workshop. Program lengths can range from just 45 minutes up to deep dives that run across two time slots (generally, 2-3 hours). Preconference workshops can range from half a day up to two days in length.
  • Identify speakers who are the best individuals to present and/or lead discussions on the issue. If your subject matter expert is not necessarily a dynamic presenter, pair him/her with an energetic moderator who can keep the session moving. 
  • Carefully consider the number of speakers you want on the program or workshop. Having fewer speakers speak in more depth about a topic is more effective than a larger panel. 
  • Ask your AMPC liaison for help if you need it. 
  • Plan ahead; give yourself plenty of time to make revisions and corrections. 
  • Review and revise your proposal – be a careful editor – and share it with colleagues. 
  • Submit your proposal online by October 7
Q 8: When will I learn the status of my submitted proposal? 

A: All proposals must be submitted online by October 7. After that date, the AMPC will spend several weeks reviewing and evaluating all submitted proposals. The committee will meet in Chicago in November to select proposals, and all proposers should be notified by early December. Be aware that the AMPC may offer conditions for accepting the proposal. These could include: altering the length of the session, making adjustments to the proposed speakers, collaborating with another proposer who submitted a similar proposal, or clarifying takeaways, title or description. Putting together a lineup of interesting and high-quality concurrent programs across multiple days is a complicated and creative process.

Q 9: Where should I look to identify potential speakers? 

A: See the section on the Program Design page that deals with identifying and selecting speakers for detailed information, but here are some guidelines. Identify speakers who are the most qualified to discuss the topic and who are effective speakers. If you’re looking for recommendations, ask your colleagues (including SIS members), post a query to the Annual Meeting Program Ideas Community, scan recent blogs and articles, check out speakers on recent conference or chapter programs and webinars, and search online for subject matter experts. Also, it helps to locate individuals in the area where the conference is being held (see the next question below).

Be clear with prospective speakers that the proposal must be approved before you can offer a firm invitation. Potential speakers should be available all days of the Annual Meeting (July 12-15) until you know whether your program has been accepted and until the preliminary schedule has been determined, usually in December.

The AALL Financial Policies read:

1.    AALL does not pay AALL members for presentations at programs that are covered by the Annual Meeting registration fee.

2.    AALL may pay program developers and presenters, whether or not they are AALL members, to develop and present all other education activities that are part of the Association's professional development program, and are not covered by Annual Meeting registration fees. Any fees paid for program development and presentation will be included in the budget for these education activities.

The AALL Expense Reimbursement Policy also states that “Association members speaking on Annual Meeting programs are not reimbursed for housing, registration, travel or incidentals. AALL does not pay honoraria to AALL members for presentations at programs that are covered by the Annual Meeting registration fee.”

Q 10: What about nonmember speakers?

A: You should select speakers who are the most qualified to address the issue. AALL works within an established budget, but takes into consideration the value of speakers from outside the AALL membership. Take advantage of the host city – contact local librarians to identify possible speakers from local bar associations, law firms, universities, or law schools. Have you or your colleagues heard great speakers at other programs or conferences? Consider working with chapters or SISs to invite VIPs who might also serve as speakers.

Additional information regarding expenses related to independently-produced SIS programs can be found here.

Q 11: How do I handle requests for honoraria for nonmember speakers?  

A: The Annual Meeting budget normally includes a modest budget for honoraria for nonmember speakers, plus travel and hotel expenses. While budget is a concern, the quality of the session is the most important factor in the selection process. When identifying potential (nonmember) speakers, it is important to ask them whether they would require an honorarium, and if so, how much. The AMPC Chair and AALL’s education staff will review all requests for nonmember speaker fees. If your proposal is accepted, formal Speaker Control Forms will be requested later in the process to confirm all anticipated expenses.

Q 12: Are proposals with speakers from all three types of libraries more likely to be accepted?  

A: No, program proposals are evaluated based on the content of the proposal and whether the proposal meets needs identified by AALL members. Ask yourself, “Would this program deliver a solution to a challenge? Would I attend this program? Would a managing partner or university or court administrator consider this program worth the cost of sending their librarian to the Annual Meeting?” The proposal should have clear takeaways and information about qualified speakers.

Q 13: What role do AALL’s entities (SISs, chapters, caucuses, committees, etc.) play in the programming process? 

A: AALL recognizes the importance of member participation within its specialized groups, and the significant role that these groups play in the educational objectives of the Association. AALL’s entities are encouraged to work with their members to help them develop proposals that address the content areas identified in the recent needs assessment. It is important to review the findings of the assessment – many identified content areas were highlighted across library types. They should foster collaboration within – and even outside of – the group. Members with content development and/or presenter experience should be encouraged to work with those seeking guidance. Speaker recommendations and best practices should be shared.

The AMPC will work to ensure that the educational needs of AALL members are addressed by conference programming. If the proposals submitted do not adequately address a particular content area, the AMPC may enlist the help of applicable SISs to develop suitable programming.

Q 14: Can an SIS produce its own programs outside of AMPC-selected programming? 

A: Each SIS will have the option of producing and sponsoring one program (independent of the programs selected/curated by the AMPC); this program must be submitted as a proposal by the October 7 deadline and identified as the SIS's choice for their independently-produced program. Each independently-produced SIS program will be evaluated and scheduled by the AMPC, and the costs associated in producing the program (equipment, honoraria, speaker expenses, etc.) will be the responsibility of the SIS. The SIS will also be responsible for the costs of recording the program, and including it in the online program evaluations that conference attendees are invited to complete. More information can be found here.

Q 15: Will there be any other opportunities for members to present educational content?  

A: Yes! Poster sessions will again be available in 2014 as an additional presentation option. A poster session is a great opportunity to share an idea in progress or show other AALL members how your library did something well. Informal coffee talks will be featured in San Antonio as well, giving attendees opportunities to brainstorm, sound off, and share their challenges, experiences, and ideas, while strengthening ties to their professional community. Program slots will also be held for emerging hot topics. More information on all of these opportunities will be available later in the planning process.

Q 16: What is the role of the Annual Meeting Program Committee?

A: The AMPC is charged with selecting programs that are consistent with the theme selected by the Vice-President while addressing members’ needs. There are ten individuals on the AMPC representing the diverse roles, work environments, and experiences of the membership: eight AALL members, the current chair, and the Vice President/President-Elect; there are also two AALL staff liaisons. The AMPC works closely with the Vice-President and AALL staff to identify priorities and guidelines for the Annual Meeting, and with program proposers to ensure that the best programs possible are presented at the Annual Meeting. The AMPC then oversees the implementation of selected programs by working with program coordinators, monitoring the progress of selected programs, and assisting with meeting established deadlines.

Q 17: If I have other questions, who should I contact?  

A: Use the list of AMPC members and AALL staff; do not hesitate to contact any person on the list with your questions.

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