Frequently Asked Questions
Last updated: August 2023
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 (BoK), 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 ROLE OF THE CONTENT AREA TEAMS?
The AMPC is split into six content area teams, each representing one of AALL’s Body of Knowledge (BoK) Domains. Each team has a leader, and each team is 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.
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 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. 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 three to six hours 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.
- 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 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.
I HAVE NEVER SUBMITTED A PROGRAM OR WORKSHOP PROPOSAL. WHAT IS THE BASIC PROCESS?
The official call for proposals opens each fall and 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.
After the proposal deadline, the AMPC will review, evaluate, and score all submitted proposals for programs and workshops using a comprehensive rubric. The first review by Content Area Teams will be completely anonymized, with identifiers removed from proposals. 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 & Conference.
Once the selections are made, an AMPC member will notify proposers of accepted programs by email and confirm the contact information for the coordinator (often the same individual who proposed the program). Proposers of declined programs will be notified by email by the AMPC chair.
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; 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 AMPC encourages everyone to propose programming that helps law librarians as they face their many and diverse responsibilities.
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. 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 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 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. Before the proposal submission form opens, you will already know the 30 program topics that will be covered, all based on AALL member input.
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 AMPC review, rate, and comment upon these proposals, just as they do with the program proposals.
Preconference workshops must be self-sustaining. The separate registration fees charged for preconference workshops must cover all costs associated with the workshops, such as speaker fees, equipment charges, any food and beverage charges, 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?
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. Please note all program coordinators, moderators, and speakers are required to register for and attend the Conference. At a minimum, everyone must have a single-day registration for the day of their program.
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:
AALL does not provide honoraria to non-member speakers or reimburse them for travel, room, meals, or other expenses. In some cases, AALL may make limited exceptions to this policy in accordance with the Annual Meeting budget.
AALL will provide a complimentary single-day registration for non-member speakers who work outside the legal information profession, would not otherwise have reason to be a member of AALL, and have not previously been a member of AALL. 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 during the Annual Meeting and Conference.