June 28, 2010
Dream Big or Comments on "A "Modest Proposal on Programming at AALL" and the Report of the AALL Annual Meeting Review Special Committee
I read with great interest the recent blog post "A "Modest Proposal" on Programming at AALL". In that post Mark Gediman suggested that the PLL Summit be folded into the Annual Meeting. I agree that would be good. However, that was tried this year. The organizers of the Summit proposed it as an AALL Workshop. It was turned down by the Annual Meeting Program Committee. So it was organized as an independent preconference event. Despite the two extra hotel days, the additional time off from work and the $195 cost I, and almost 100 other PLL members, have chosen to attend the Summit. How many more would have attended if the Annual Meeting Program Committee would have made it a part of the conference? By the way, there is still time to sign up by contacting the PLL President, Kate Martin.
The PLL Special Interest Section ("PLL SIS") has 1445 members. We are the largest SIS. Yet many of our programs are rejected as official AALL programs and we are forced to schedule them as SIS programs in competition with other events and programs.
In the April 2010 AALL Spectrum, in a column entitled "A New Look at the AALL Annual Meeting", Catherine Lemann, President of AALL stated "I've asked the AMRSC to dream big and come up with ideas for ways to transform the meeting." Ms. Lemann also stated "We strive to provide educational programming that is relevant to particular audiences and programming that has universal appeal."
So did the Annual Meeting Review Special Committee ("AMRSC") dream big? NO!
Here is some of what they proposed regarding programming:
1. Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC) should remain as is with current charge and selection process.
2. Special interest sections should continue ranking their programs.
3. They endorsed the concept of identifying programs by "tracks" which should encompass the competencies of law librarianship.
4. Continue to allow and encourage un-conferences.
5. Make known existing options available re Special Interest Section programming including, but not limited to, the possibility of ticketed programs to help defray costs.
In other words, nothing is changing and if you want relevant and out of the box programming you have to go outside the AALL Conference to get it and/or you may have to pay extra for it.
I do like Mark Gediman's suggestion of a series of program tracks for each SIS with an extra track for cross-disciplinary programs. However, I am concerned that will lead to isolation from the other Special Interest Sections. I, for one, think we need more collaboration, not less. But if the joint programs were not scheduled against other programs it could work. I also reiterate my call to expand our focus to the world around us and not limit our programming to traditional skills. We really do need to dream big.
Sounds like a really good opportunity to me.
Posted by: Training and Technical Service | Sep 1, 2010 6:19:06 AM
Comment to Hanley: The programming is just as stale for academics. We do not use AALL as a platform for publishing reqs. Hell - most of the academics don't have tenure anyway - but thats another story.
I'm not sure why the PLL summit wasn't just part of the regular educational program included in the registration fee. Why even make it a workshop, much less an independent project that people have to pay extra for.
I've been trying to change programming at AALL forever. Any innovation comes from the SISs and then AALL takes credit for the new ideas - after they have been proven. They should take lessons from John Meyer at CALI on how to run a conference. AND - the SISs should get to choose their own programs free from intervention by AMSPC. That is the way to go...
Posted by: vicki | Jun 29, 2010 6:56:21 PM
Mark Gediman has posted a follow-up in response to Caren's post at http://www.geeklawblog.com/2010/06/programming-at-aall-modest-follow-up.html
Posted by: Joe Hodnicki | Jun 28, 2010 3:18:12 PM
What about a substantive-law track? At least we'd have a chance to hear something new. We all have to do research in specific areas of law, after all.
And it would be nice if I got an answer from the Spectrum editor when I responded to his request for hot topics. But that's another rant.
Dissatisfaction is way beyond the SIS level.
Posted by: Marie Erickson | Jun 28, 2010 3:08:51 PM
The Technical Services SIS has been having similar discussion about the same frustrations with AALL programming for as long as I have been an AALL member (1994). I am now in a Firm library and a PL-SIS member as well -- it seems that we have a critical mass of disatisfied members -- what can we do to push this issue! (I can't attend AALL this year, because I only have funding to go every other year, but I seriously thought about attending just the PL-SIS seminar on my own $)
Posted by: Beth Holmes | Jun 28, 2010 8:55:55 AM
Perhaps it is time to reinflate the AALL meeting from Sat-Tues to Sat-Wed. A day or a day and one half could be devoted to track specific programs and the rest of the time could be devoted to cross-track programming.
Posted by: Thomas Hanley | Jun 28, 2010 8:26:22 AM
After having a couple or three programs rejected (the first two without any notice back that my proposal was rejected, but that's another story), I gave up trying.
I have been in the field for more than 15 years in a law firm library. I only attended one AALL conference, and at that one incident I was pretty much bored out of my skull during summer associate season. I have had essentially no interest in attending another. I had almost enough interest to obtain recordings of a handful of sessions over the past decade, but not enough interest to go through the process of having a check cut.
I realize that academics have "publish or perish" and need venues to present their materials. I couldn't get considered for committee work when I applied.
AALL by limiting access to to 1445 members of the PLL SIS (not to mention those of us who don't have PLL SIS membership because our employers don't want to pay for it and I don't want to pay for it out of my pocket) turns membership into something that is less than desirable or useful.
Posted by: I have a dog in the fight, but can't say why | Jun 28, 2010 8:19:55 AM