Q: What do I need to know about education at AALL 2020?
Building on momentum of learner-centric programming
A few years ago, AALL conducted a thorough examination of its conference programming processes and the educational needs of AALL members, bringing in outside consultants and soliciting detailed feedback from AALL members. Some valuable recommendations came from those findings, and their implementation has been ongoing since then. Programs are solicited and selected in an effort to intentionally curate a more relevant slate of educational programming, and are developed to better engage the audience and deliver the promised takeaways.
Sounds pretty lofty, right? But the success of recent programming shows that it’s doable—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 to program delivery. Being a part of the programming experience can be incredibly rewarding.
Member-identified content and collaboration
For the 2015 Annual Meeting, the AMPC worked with Content Area Teams (CATs) comprised of AALL members outside of the committee. Each CAT represented an educational content area, and was responsible for identifying a number of “must-have” program topics—topics that AALL members needed to see (and would see) at the 2015 conference. Once those topics were identified, they were shared with AALL members when it was time to solicit program proposals. Most of the must-have program topics were fulfilled by strong program proposals. The others were curated by members of the AMPC. The end result ensured that the programs AALL members said they needed would be delivered at the Annual Meeting.
Now, CAT members are incorporated into the AMPC, greatly expanding the size of the committee. Each team has a team leader, and once again, 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’re 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 SISs, 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!
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 develop programming that delivers solutions. In situations where a must-have program topic is not sufficiently covered by any of the submitted proposals, the AMPC will curate the program with assistance from interested members and SISs who may have expertise and/or speaker recommendations in a particular area.
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.
Right-sized program lengths
The standard program length at the conference is one hour—consistent program lengths will mean more attendee-friendly educational opportunities and more scheduling flexibility. 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.
Q: 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. 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: I have never submitted a program or workshop proposal. What is the basic process?
Proposals are due to AALL on October 1, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. (EDT). 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 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 Annual Meeting Program Committee will review, evaluate, and score all submitted proposals for programs and workshops using a comprehensive rubric. Content Area Teams will review the proposals that fall within their scope. Scores are compiled, averaged, and used by the Content Area Team Leaders during their program 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. In situations where a must-have program topic is not sufficiently covered by any of the submitted proposals, the Content Area Team will curate the program with assistance from interested members and SISs who may have expertise and/or speaker recommendations in a particular area.
Once the selections are made, an AMPC member will notify proposers of accepted programs by phone, 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. 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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: What kind of programs do AALL Annual Meeting attendees need?
The list of must-have program topics for AALL 2020 will be featured in the official call for proposals (in September); 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 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: 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. Explore the “must-have” program topics for the coming year; these topics support various competencies and skills comprising AALL’s Body of Knowledge (BoK) domains. Also consider the hot topics buzzing around your SIS 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 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 him/her 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 online by October 1, 2019!
Q: When will I learn the status of my submitted proposal?
All proposals must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, October 1, 2019. After that date, the AMPC will spend the following weeks reviewing and evaluating all submitted proposals. The AMPC’s team leaders 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: 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: 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’re looking for recommendations, ask your colleagues (including SIS members), 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 11-14) 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: What about nonmember speakers?
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: 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 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: 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 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: What role do AALL’s entities (SISs, 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’s 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 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: Can an SIS produce its own programs outside of AMPC-selected programming?
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 October 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.
Q: Will there be any other opportunities for members to present educational content?
Yes! Poster sessions will again be available 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 discussion den chats will be offered again 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: What is the role of the Annual Meeting Program Committee?
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. Please note that if your program is accepted, AALL and the AMPC reserve the right to make adjustments to the program to ensure that the best program is 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 coordinator and presenters.