ALA’s Annual Conference is over for this year, and library workers are back home, energized and ready to dive into summer learning or planning for the coming school year.  It’s also time to sit back and reflect on what made a good annual conference this year, besides the obvious things (IMHO) like hearing Hillary Clinton as the closing speaker. What panels spoke out to you? Which ones did you feel gave you the most actionable know-how to take home and try out that very next week? And things we like to think less about here at YALSA, but what didn’t work so well? Why didn’t you like a certain panel? Were the panelists too rote? Too unimaginative?

What could you have brought to the table? Proposals are already open for #ALAAC18 and it’s time for us to hear from YOU! Perhaps some members are unsure of where to start when it comes to proposing program, and although I have never proposed programming on a national scale, I am involved with my state’s active library association and helped plan its 2017 conference. The process is different for ALA, but that’s no reason to be nervous. Let your colleagues who are ALA members know, and ask them to vote for your proposals! If you believe in something, we want to hear about it. Here are the tips on how to best present your ideas in an ALA conference proposal.

  • Have you looked through past conferences? See what’s been done before, and what you could do differently. If a topic you’re interested in was just covered last year, put a new spin on it, or come up with a different topic.
  • Look through YALSA’s Organizational Plan. Find key points that correspond with your ideas, and make sure to emphasize them. YALSA has a plan for how to best help teens, and there’s no better starting point.
  • Is it just an author or product pitch? An exhibit booth would be a more appropriate venue.
  • Think of strategies to make your session interactive,–make the most use of the in-person, live format.
  • Make sure that it’s adaptable across library size, area, and budget.
  • Don’t just talk about what you did! It might not work the same for other libraries. Try “this could be a new library trend (i.e. escape rooms) and here’s how to try it at your library!”
  • Session presenters don’t have to be THE authority on a topic.  Sometimes it’s more useful for the audience to hear about failures and lessons learned from them.  Frame your session from the point of view that you’re a lifelong learner, and engage the audience to see what experiences and expertise they can share to make the conversation richer.
  • Would it be easier to do as an article or a webinar, or can you reach a wider audience that way?  If so, contact the YALSAblog Manager or Linda Braun, YALSA’s CE Consultant.

Brainstorm, write your ideas down, discuss them with colleagues. Make sure that it’s perfect. You have until August 25 to submit! With any luck, we’ll see you on a panel in New Orleans.  And, if you’ve never been to an ALA Annual Conference before, YALSA members can apply now through Dec. 1st for travel funds. 

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