Program Planning Committee Update

Looking at my archives, I see that it’s been quite a while since I gave you an update on the LITA Program Planning Committee and all the various and sundry things that go along with that.  As I actually have a couple of hours to write this afternoon before I need to shuffle off to the airport, now seemed like a good time to get that done.

In August we chose programs and in September the committee sorted things into time slots. This is far less fun than it sounds.  We have to try and meet the requests of the speakers, not conflict with similar topics or other LITA no-compete times, and still have something during every slot that we’d all like to go to.  We might have moved our committee meeting because of one of the programs that’s happening next summer…..

During the course of the fall there was some contact work that the liaisons needed to do.  I sent a fair number of reminders and when people weren’t speaking up, I sent pointed requests.  Due to work situations, two of my committee members had to excuse themselves from service, so I also need to send emails to my two new committee members this afternoon.

By the way–unless it’s a personal special request, I don’t really control who is on my committee.  When I lost a committee member over the summer, I had a name in mind because of some emails that I’d seen not too long before conference.  I knew said person had filled out the volunteer form and had other committee experience that would benefit my group.  This time around, I sent a request saying I need two more people and Colleen Cuddy made things happen.  I got the names shortly before Midwinter.

This spring, I will be hearing from/working with the VP of LITA–Zoe, to get a couple of people who are rotating off the committee replaced.  I don’t know how much influence I’ll have there either.  I think it’s a good committee to cut your teeth on, though it’s a fair amount of work in the fall.

My committee did not have a formal meeting at Midwinter ALA. I said I’d be in X space at Y time and three of my committee members happened to come by and see me and, over the course of the conference, one of them and I worked out some changes to one of the programs (I say “we”–Mike did the hard work and the talking to people, I gave him some ideas, started a couple of conversations and asked to be copied on the emails.).  I saw a few other chairs and we shared some ideas but the wifi at the conference was so weak that I couldn’t edit a GDoc while I was there.  Did I mention that 98% of my committee’s work is in a GDoc Spreadsheet?

Interestingly, several people have come to me assuming that I can put programs into the program now or that LITA PPC actually arranges the programs.  While we have the latest (last I checked) deadline for annual programs, that deadline is long past.  When we’re talking about a conference of 25K people, it’s not quite as easy to throw a program in at the last minute.  And while we select and coordinate programs, the PPC does not traditionally arrange and put on the programs.  Our work is much more behind the scenes.  That being said, the committee is responsible for the Flash Presentations.  This is a new program (it’s not about the Flash on the computer btw–someone asked) that I’ll send out a call for in April.  Six ten minute presentations about what’s going on in technology at your library RIGHT NOW.  But that was something I knew I wanted to arrange last summer and we already have our timeslot for that.

Someone else asked what if there is a cancellation?  We do not do a replacement.  Particularly this year.  Individual speakers on a panel might certainly change up until the conference but if an individual doing a presentation pulls out, I’m not going to go back to the list of suggested presentations.

That being said, I am sharing the LITA-PPC spreadsheet with LITA Education Chair Cody Hanson, who will be reviewing both the presentations that we accepted and those that we did not accept to see if there are workshops that he could create, speakers he could tap, and other opportunities that can be created out of the wealth of suggestions people put forth.  And one of our rejected proposals was handed as a suggestion name to an IG Chair who asked us for people for their panel.  So things do still happen.

Oh! I did go and talk to the LearnRT Board and they are entirely on board to take on coordinating with our programs to offer pre-program support: reviewing slides, dry run of the presentation via Skype, etc.  I’m thrilled to have their assistance and felt very welcome at their meeting.  I’m happily anticipating better programs by our presenters!

We’re under description deadline for the print this week, so it’s time to go send emails to all of my committee members again.


If there’s a question I didn’t answer, let me know…


On the Brink of Acceptances

The LITA Program Planning Committee is through it’s initial stages of review and discussion about programs for next summer’s Annual ALA meeting.  After hours of thoughtful individual review, commenting, and rating, we had an absolutely jam packed two hour discussion today.

So how did we judge a program/what were we looking for? Here are the questions I asked the committee to keep in mind during their evaluations:

  • Will this be a timely topic next summer?
  • Will it scale? Is it transferable across types/sizes of libraries?
  • Will it put backsides in chairs and keep them there?
  • Would you sit through it?

Have I mentioned how grateful I am for some of our current technologies?  We used a Doodle Poll to schedule the meeting, a Google Form to collect responses, Google Spreadsheets to organize things we were rating and make comments, Skype to get everyone together to talk. I was editing the spreadsheets live as we met with programs moving to an accepted or declined tab.  I’ve still got some notes to pull together from today’s meeting but overall, things are in pretty good shape.

Because we had so much to talk about, the meeting was a forced march at a really quick pace. I was impressed at the collaboration and consideration that I heard from the committee members. There were several programs that various committee members felt very strongly about and their arguments, examples of relevancy, and passion helped the committee create a list of programs that we are confident presenting to the ALA attendees.

If you’re waiting on notification, it’s going to be a little longer before you have an answer. There were some programs where we’re asking for clarifications, a couple that we’re asking to combine, and a few other things floating about that need to be settled before final acceptance/decline emails are sent. I promise things are moving behind the scenes, even if it may seem interminably slow on your end.




Holy Conference Proposals Batman!!

If you’re just tuning in, please check out my initial Madame Chair post.

We’re closing the LITA Program Proposal Form on Friday* and as of 5 p.m. Thursday, we were nearly to sixty proposals.  SIXTY.  That’s double what we’ve had the last two years (I checked our spreadsheets).  I’m somewhere between shock, awe, and OMGWTFBBQ-crazy. I know the Redoubtable Warmaiden and I have been blasting listservs and I’ve been yelling, begging, reminding and irritating people for four very short weeks.  Thank you for putting up with the multiple emails, tweets, blog posts and everything else. And to everyone who submitted: Thank you for sending us your proposal. You’ve given us a wealth of options to choose from and I’m grateful that you took the time, made the effort and put your ideas forward.

A skim through the spreadsheet has me already thinking about things I’d like to attend.  Obviously I can’t tell you much, but words like Mobile, E-, i-, Cloud, Data, Migration, Web Design and Training are certainly liberally sprinkled about.

With proposal numbers like that, the committee’s job just got much harder. Frankly, we can’t accept everything. Even if we wanted to, we only have about 16-19 time slots to work with (depending on how you count it, not scheduling on top of the LITA President’s Program, etc).  We’ll lose a couple of those time slots to the vendors** and we really shouldn’t try to schedule 6 LITA programs per time slot.

So what happens now?

Tomorrow I spend the day clicking over to the spreadsheet every twenty minutes to see just how many more people have submitted a proposal. After we close it, my committee members will each read, rank (1-5) and comment on what we’ve received.  We do this individually and I’ll be asking them to make a top ten list. I’ll compile their rankings and give each program an average score, to help us see any particular outliers that we want to immediately accept or turn down.

Then we have a two hour meeting scheduled to hash out what, exactly, we’re accepting. That is going to be exhausting. Ideally, I’m hoping that a few programs might be combined, so the number we have to turn down can be reduced.

Following that meeting, we should have the following

  1. A list of programs that we are definitely accepting, with PPC members assigned.
  2. A (short) list of programs where we need more information from or we’re asking if they’ll consider combining. (Please say yes!)
  3. A list of programs that we are turning down.
That short list will need to be worked through quickly so if you hear from us, please don’t sit on it. By mid-September we’ve got to be plotting things on a scheduling chart and sending out notifications of acceptance or rejection.
Interestingly, those who have expressed interest in working with the Learning Round Table on their proposal is right about 50%. I have no idea how that will translate once we get through the shuffling above, hopefully one of the accepted program proposers and/or a member of the LearnRT will give us more insight once that’s rolling along.
Good news for me! The Conference Program Coordinating Team, which does calendar tetris after the PPC does it, but on a much larger scale, will be meeting electronically! In the past they’ve met for a weekend in October and I’ve heard interesting stories about people being locked in rooms and not being allowed out until we’ve come to a consensus on the next Pope, pantones for next year, and exactly which flavor of ice cream is the best. Last year, they tried doing it electronically and that worked so well, they’re doing it again.  This makes it much easier for me, as I have travel plans in October and plane tickets to buy in the near future.
Sixty Proposals. Wow.

*Read= Or when I get up on Saturday, for those in California working til the last minute on their proposals

**Vendors are guaranteed a two hour window every day that isn’t booked with programs, only committee meetings.  Unfortunately we can’t make them always at 8:30 a.m.

Madame Chair (or, I Want a Hat)

If I’m chair of a committee, shouldn’t I get to wear a hat? I know being Madame President gets you a large hat with lots of fabric roses and gauze, I’m just looking for something with a couple of ribbons and bows: tasteful and modest but still noticeable.

One of the major things that I did at ALA Annual this year was take over as chair of the Program Planning Committee for the Library Information Technology Association (LITA-PPC). I’ve heard from a lot of people that they would enjoy more transparency about committees and such. While I can’t speak too much to how other people are doing it, I can give you my view from the inside.

I’ve been a member of LITA-PPC for two years already, working under two very progressive chairs (Jason Griffey and Ranti Junus). I signed on with the clear understanding that, as  committee member, I wouldn’t be able to go to Midwinter.  During my first Midwinter on the committee I was in Egypt, so I couldn’t even phone in to that meeting, but I felt comfortable and confident from the work we’d done in our fall phone calls and emails.  A lot has changed in the past five-ten years. We don’t require all of our presenters to also appear before us at Midwinter to tell us how they are doing, as used to be the case.  Now that I’m chair, Midwinter isn’t optional, but hey–I’ve never been to Dallas (2012) or Seattle (2013). Telling my committee members that I wasn’t about to require that they come was the one of the first things out of my mouth during our meeting in New Orleans.  I was invited to become chair by the Vice-President of LITA at the recommendation of my previous chairs.

My committee is tasked with organizing and shepherding conference programs for the Annual meetings.  I’m working with twelve committee members,  the liaison(s) to the LITA Forum planning committee, a LITA Board liaison, and 2-3 ALA staff liaisons.  I’ve got a really good group to work with and, so far, everyone has chimed in and been very responsive on the private listserv that we use for communication.  In theory we’re supposed to be doing more on ALA Connect. In practice, it’s hard to make people (me included) remember to go and sign in to yet another site every day or week. The listserv pushes to us and with threaded email conversations most of it is pretty easy to follow.

Call for proposals went out today. I’ve been editing the form that we used last year, getting committee feedback (the Warmaiden is excellent for that!), trying to come up with some ideas to jumpstart proposers, and so on. Hitting send today made it live and out into the world and really kicks our work off.

Now we’ll accept program proposals from all various and sundry groups and individuals. What I like about LITA-PPC is that a program doesn’t have to be supported by an IG or another committee for us to consider it. It opens the possibility of getting suggestions from individuals who may not have the time or wading abilities to get thru the various structures.

Once the program proposals are in, each committee member will go through the proposals, scoring and commenting.  I’ll tally this and then we’ll have a meeting (thank you Skype!) to discuss what we’ve received. At that point we’ll ask for any clarification or combination that we feel is necessary.  We’ll re-discuss those programs with questions and make the final yay and nay.

And that only takes me to early September.  We’ll worry about what happens after that a little closer to date.

Something new that we’re doing is a collaboration with the Learning Round Table (LearnRT).  This came out of a recording session of T is for Training at ALA. While sitting with Maurice Coleman and the others, we were talking about what was working or not working for us in the sessions we had attended. The idea arose that it would be nice to have a way for presenters to get feedback about their presentation and a critical eye BEFORE ALA, in hopes that fewer attendees would doze off, sneak out, or start playing on Facebook.  We took the collaboration back to our respective groups and LITA-PPC is the test subject for this. We’ll see how many presenters take us up on this.

So tell me, what would you like to know about my committee work, being chair, and all that? Is there something not clear?

If you’re interested in submitting a proposal, please fill out the form here.