August 14, 2012
“You Better Watch Out … For What You Wish For”: Was the PLL Summit Just Too Damn Successful?
During Denver 20-whenever, I was enjoying a cup of coffee with two vendor folks when the proverbial question was asked. “How’s the annual meeting going for you?” I just shrugged my shoulders and replied back that I wished AALL would let the private, academic and government SIS groups program their own tracks. In a nutshell, the vendor rely was that would be a good idea because their marketing campaigns segmented AALL’s institutional buyers into those three market sectors.
We all know or should know that it is the purchasing power of the private sector law libraries that drives product development because the private sector generates by far the most revenue for our vendors. The “proof” is easy to see. Vendors have been very willing to help PLL sponsor its pre-conference summits because the audience has been primarily private sector law librarians. Summit attendance has grown every year. At Boston 2012, registration reached 300, with some 90% representing law firms and legal departments. Some law librarians only attended the pre-conference Saturday Summit. There is no doubt that the Summit's popularity with attendees and vendors has been because the agenda was relevant, particularly compared to the regular annual meeting programming.
The above summary provides several points for arguing that the three-year pre-conference PLL Summit track record was just too damn successful for AALL officialdom to take.
- Sponsorship dollars flowed into the PLL Summit by vendors who knew this was their most significant revenue base.
- Sponsorship revenue for the Summit bled off some sponsorship contributions to AALL’s annual meeting.
- Contributions to the Summit were not under the direct control of AALL for expending on activities other than the Summitt.
- Attendance proved PLL’s Summits have become very popular because they have offered an agenda that was relevant to attendees.
Let’s add one additional point. While session moderators were usually law librarians, in general Summit session speakers were not. Like OMG dude, an entire day of programming including multiple professional development opportunities scheduled at the same time, from non-law librarians that law librarians wanted to attend and were (1) willing to pay an separate registration fee for it while sticking around for the regular annual meeting or (2) willing to make a special trip to just attend the PLL Summit.
Is this the back-story of AMPC’s hostile takeover of the PLL Summit? You decide. Not one major vendor I talked to at Boston 2012 likes the unilaterally implemented changes. Some were quite frank in their opposition. Certainly most PLL members are opposed to this.
I’m thinking pissing off roughly 40% of AALL members and the vendors who are willing to pony up sponsorship funds for the Summit may someday knock some sense into the punch-drunk AALL decider-ers. Hopefully, AALL will toss in the towel by institutionalizing multi-day track scheduling with relevant agendas controlled by the market-segmented food groups (AKA as institutional SISs) of our vendors someday. This track-system cetainly could and should extend beyond institutional market sectors to include SIS groups that use vendor-supplied products and services, like OPACs if not topics covered in private, academic and government sector libraries.
If not or until then, I’m thinking the pre-conference PLL Summit probably won’t be “history” despite AALL officialdom’s collective embarrassment of its success. I don’t know about Seattle 2013 but my hunch is some sort of pre-conference non-workshop-like re-branded “PLL Workshops” will reappear no later than 2014.
Why Attend Seattle 2013? The best reason to attend Seattle 2013 might be the tourist attractions for Grunge Rock fans. Who knows, perhaps after Boston’s psychedelic love-in, TR Legal will book Courtney Love for next year’s “West Party.” The folks in the Land of 10,000 Invoices have plenty of tattered and torn flannel shirts, right?
AALL has a long history of ignoring membership interests. It also has a well-established tradition of kissing vendor ass. Luckily this is an instance where the latter can promote membership interests because this issue not merely specific to the private sector. (Loop back up the Denver 20-whenever portion of this post.)
Wouldn’t you think AALL decider-ers would want to build on the success of PLL’s Summit as a model for annual meeting programming? Watch for backpeddling from AALL without, of course, any explicit admission that this latest collective screw-up was produced by insulated group-think.
Is it time for Make Me Over? [JH]
Where is Linda-Jean Schneider's voice in all this? I keep hearing from the bloggers about what's going on, but not from the PLL Leadership (at least not the current leader.)
Posted by: PLL Member | Aug 15, 2012 9:13:20 AM