Frequently Asked Questions
Last updated: February 2022
Programs for the AALL Annual Meeting & Conference are solicited and selected to intentionally curate a relevant slate of programming that addresses the educational needs of AALL members, better engages the audience, and delivers the promised takeaways. AALL provides many resources to help you along the way, from proposal development to program delivery. Being a part of the programming experience can be incredibly rewarding.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE ANNUAL MEETING PROGRAM COMMITTEE (AMPC)?
The AMPC is charged with selecting programs that address members’ needs and support AALL’s Body of Knowledge, and the committee represents the diverse roles, work environments, and experiences of AALL’s membership. The AMPC works closely with the president and AALL staff to identify educational 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.
AALL strives to offer exceptional learning opportunities with knowledgeable and skilled presenters. AALL and the AMPC reserve the right to make adjustments to any accepted program to ensure the best programs are delivered, from promotion to production. To facilitate this, a member of the AMPC will be assigned to each program and will work closely with the coordinators and presenters.
WHAT IS THE CONTENT AREA TEAMS ROLE OF THE ANNUAL MEETING PROGRAMMING COMMITTEE (AMPC)?
Content Area Team (CAT) members are incorporated into the AMPC, greatly expanding the size of the committee. Each team has a team leader, and each team will be responsible for 1) identifying must-have program topics, 2) soliciting program proposals on these topics, and 3) curating these programs if they are not fulfilled by the proposals AALL receives. The AMPC will seek proposals reflecting these topics to ensure that the conference programming lineup is more practical and relevant than ever before.
Members are encouraged to work with colleagues (for instance, those within special interest sections, chapters, or caucuses, or across library types) to develop outstanding programming ideas, identify dynamic speakers, and craft engaging sessions. Of course, if you want to propose a program on a topic that falls outside of the “must-haves” go for it!
WHAT RECOMMENDATIONS DOES THE ANNUAL MEETING PROGRAMMING COMMITTEE (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 are back at work. Explore the must-have program topics for the coming year; these topics support various competencies and skills comprising AALL’s Body of Knowledge (BoK). Also consider the hot topics buzzing around your special interest section or chapter.
- Go beyond the “sage on a stage.” 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. See our Program Design resource for more details.
- The standard program length for the conference is an hour, so think about the best way to deliver the content of your program in that time frame. (There is also the option to propose longer-length deep dive programs [2.5 hours] and preconference workshops, which 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 them with an energetic moderator who can keep the session moving.
- Carefully consider the number of speakers you want on the program. Having more than three speakers on a one-hour program is strongly discouraged.
- 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. The AMPC will evaluate all submitted proposals using a comprehensive rubric focusing on: 1) the relevance of the topic (Is it important, timely, and vital to legal information professionals? Will the learner be able to implement some action or think in new ways as a result?); and 2) its description (Is it clear and well-defined? Is there a specific plan for learner engagement? Are the proposed speakers suitable?).
- Submit your proposal by the deadline.
ARE PROPOSALS WITH SPEAKERS FROM ALL THREE TYPES OF LIBRARIES MORE LIKELY TO BE ACCEPTED?
No, program proposals are evaluated based on the content of the proposal and whether the proposal meets the 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.
I HAVE NEVER SUBMITTED A PROGRAM OR WORKSHOP PROPOSAL. WHAT IS THE BASIC PROCESS?
Proposals are due to AALL at the end of November each year. The official call for proposals will include must-have program topics that address the educational needs identified by AALL members. It is around these topics that the Annual Meeting Programming Committee (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 website features a ‘share’ function.)
After the proposal deadline, the AMPC will review, evaluate, and score all submitted proposals for programs and workshops using a comprehensive rubric. Content Area Teams will review the proposals within their scope. Scores are compiled, averaged, and used by the Content Area Team Leaders during their program selection meeting, which typically takes place about eight 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.
Once the selections are made, an AMPC member will notify proposers of accepted programs by phone and confirm the contact information for the coordinator (often 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. Proposers of declined programs will be notified by email.
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.
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?
- 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?)
See our Program Design resource for more details.
WHAT KIND OF PROGRAMS DO AALL ANNUAL MEETING ATTENDEES NEED?
The list of must-have program topics will be featured in the official call for proposals (in October); proposals should align with these identified needs. Please also explore AALL’s Body of Knowledge and 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.
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 recently 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.
WHO CAN PROPOSE A PROGRAM OR WORKSHOP FOR THE AALL ANNUAL MEETING?
Any individual or group can propose programs or workshops. The Annual Meeting Programming Committee (AMPC) encourages everyone to propose programming that helps law librarians as they face their many and diverse responsibilities. AALL’s entities (special interest sections, chapters, committees, caucuses) can provide a wealth of resources in terms of connecting members for collaboration and helping to identify potential speakers.
WHAT ROLE DO AALL ENTITIES (Special interest sections, CHAPTERS, CAUCUSES, COMMITTEES, ETC.) PLAY IN THE PROGRAMMING PROCESS?
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 entities are encouraged to work with their members to help them develop proposals that address the must-have program topics and support the competencies and skills comprising AALL’s Body of Knowledge (BoK) domains. 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 APMC 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 special interest sections to develop suitable programming.
WHAT ROLE DO SPECIAL INTEREST SECTIONS (sis) HAVE?
SISs provide their members with resources for meeting the challenges they face in their jobs—through discussion forums, mentoring, working groups, and idea-sharing. SIS leaders (including education committee chairs) should pay attention to topics people are buzzing about and encourage members to propose relevant programming.
They should help to connect members who could work together on developing a program. They should foster the involvement of newer members of the profession, and identify the unsung experts among their members. They should also offer support for writing strong descriptions and takeaways. This is true for must-have programs, for programs that fall outside of that list, and for independently produced SIS programs. An AMPC member has been assigned to liaise with each SIS to assist and support the program process.
CAN SPECIAL INTEREST SECTIONS (sis) PRODUCE ITS OWN PROGRAMS?
Each SIS has the option of producing and sponsoring one program (independent of the programs selected/curated by the AMPC). If an SIS opts to have an independently produced program at the conference, they must submit two different proposals from which the AMPC can select the one that will be independently produced by the SIS. These proposals must be submitted online by the November deadline and identified as the SIS’s options for an 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.
WHEN WILL I LEARN THE STATUS OF MY SUBMITTED PROPOSAL?
All proposals must be submitted online by the November deadline. After that date, the Annual Meeting Programming Committee (AMPC) will spend the following weeks reviewing and evaluating all submitted proposals. The AMPC’s team leaders will meet in the winter to select proposals, and all proposers should be notified shortly thereafter. Be aware that the AMPC may offer conditions for accepting the proposal. These include but are not limited to, 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.
CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT “MUST-HAVE” PROGRAM TOPICS?
Every year, we identify crucial programming in advance to guide proposers and be more strategic in the program planning process.
The must-have program topics from each Content Area Team will be included in the call for proposals (issued in October). Then it’s up to you to connect the dots—Perhaps one of the topics is exactly what your library has been tackling this year. Perhaps you know the perfect presenter. Perhaps a working group within your special interest section has been brainstorming about the topic already.
WILL WE HAVE MUST-HAVE PROGRAMS EACH YEAR?
Yes. Long before the full (final) slate of programs is announced, you will already know of roughly 30 program topics that will be covered, all based on AALL member input. This could be of value to members who need to get the ball rolling months in advance to secure authorization to attend the conference.
WHAT HAPPENS IF NOBODY SUBMITS A PROPOSAL ON ONE OF THE MUST-HAVE TOPICS?
The Annual Meeting Program Committee members comprising each Content Area Team (CAT) will keep working and connecting with members. In situations where a must-have program topic is not sufficiently covered by any of the submitted proposals, the CAT will curate the program with assistance from interested members and SISs who may have expertise and/or speaker recommendations in a particular area.
WHAT IF I WANT TO PROPOSE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PROGRAM—ONE THAT ISN’T ON THE LIST OF MUST-HAVES?
Go for it! In addition to the must-have program topics on the list, and there will be room for many more. Explore AALL’s Body of Knowledge (BoK) for ideas. Talk to members, survey your special interest sections, and work with other AALL entities to stay on the right track. Keep in mind that members want substantive, well-developed programs that help them do their jobs better.
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—the selection process is the same. All members of the Annual Meeting Program Committee (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 beverage charges, transportation costs (if needed), and production of handout materials. Associated costs are not subsidized 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.
WHERE SHOULD I LOOK TO IDENTIFY POTENTIAL SPEAKERS?
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 are looking for recommendations, ask your colleagues (including special interest section members), scan recent blogs and articles, check out speakers on recent conference or chapter programs and webinars, and search online for subject matter experts.
As part of our commitment to elevate new and diverse voices in our profession, we encourage proposers to consider working with speakers who have the desired experience/education but who may not have presented at an AALL Annual Meeting before. 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 and ask them whether they could be available to deliver the program in person, virtually, or both. Potential speakers should be available all days of the Annual Meeting until you know whether your program has been accepted and until the preliminary schedule has been determined, most likely in March. If the conference is held in person, all program coordinators, moderators, and speakers are expected to attend the in-person Conference.
AALL’s Expense Reimbursement Policy includes the following regarding Annual Meeting speakers:
AALL MEMBERS SPEAKING ON PROGRAMS:
AALL members coordinating, moderating, or speaking on Annual Meeting programs must purchase a full conference registration or a single-day registration valid for the day of their program. AALL does not pay honoraria to AALL members for presentations at programs that are covered by the Annual Meeting registration fee.
NONMEMBERS SPEAKING ON PROGRAMS:
Meal and/or transportation expense reimbursement for non-AALL members speaking on Annual Meeting Program Committee-selected programs must be requested by the program’s coordinator and are subject to approval by AALL.
In addition, the following guidelines are applicable to expenses of non-member speakers at Annual Meeting Program Committee-selected programs:
- These expenses are approved as part of the Annual Meeting speakers’ budget.
- When housing for a speaker is requested by the program’s coordinator, lodging at one of the convention hotels is provided through the Association’s designated housing contractor for one night only unless their participation or the logistics of travel require a longer stay (to be approved by AALL).
- When air or rail travel for a speaker is requested by the program’s coordinator, standard coach/economy fare travel must be booked at least 21 days in advance through the Association’s designated travel agency and direct billed to AALL. Speakers will not be reimbursed for upgraded seats and/or Wi-Fi. All travelers will be offered the least expensive direct route to their destination. Travelers who want to be selective in their airline, travel class or fee-based seat selection will be responsible for the cost differential.
- Reimbursement may be approved and provided for airport/rail ground transportation (rental car costs are not reimbursed.) Fee for a single checked bag (each way) may also be reimbursed. Meal expenses on travel days and the day of the speaker’s program may be reimbursed up to $100 per day when itemized receipts are submitted with the Expense Reimbursement Form. This is not a per diem. No single meal reimbursement request should exceed $75.
- Honoraria in excess of $500.00 are to be approved by AALL.
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 special interest sections to invite VIPs who might also serve as speakers.
Find additional information regarding expenses related to independently-produced special interest section programs.
HOW DO I HANDLE REQUESTS FOR HONORARIA FOR NONMEMBER SPEAKERS?
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 Annual Meeting Programming Committee (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.