Section Planning From a Newbie’s Perspective: Part 3

As the Chair Elect of the MIS Section I am also the Programming Chair for the section for the next annual meeting.  While I have held positions within local library organizations and served in other ways within MLA and MLA sections, this is the first time I have been the section planner.  It was a little daunting to me.  Thankfully Rikke Ogawa, Julie Esparza, Ysabel Bertolucci, Jan Cox and Gale Dutcher worked to provide this year’s planners with a guide detailing the process.

As I reported on the 2010 MLA Blog (Section Planning from a Newbie’s Perspective and Section Planning Part 2) I plan to write several blog posts about the process so that others who are thinking of getting involved might see what it is like and to help demystify the process of planning the annual meeting. 

In my Part 2 post I mentioned that all of the Section and SIG program planners gathered in a big room and presented our ideas for programs.  People swapped business cards, chatted with each other on common interests and took notes.  After that meeting Rikke gathered up the notes from the section program meeting and made a giant spreadsheet listing everybody’s ideas and section information.  We went through that information and narrowed down the ideas and the programs.  Certain programming ideas were similar to others and those were easily merged with each other.  Some programming ideas did not pan out very well and were dropped.  Section and SIG programming chairs emailed each other back and forth finalizing who would be a primary sponsor and who would be the co-sponsors. 

Once that information was determined the person representing the primary program sponsor  had to write up and submit information about the intended program. 

That information included:

Session Title:
Primary Sponsoring Section:
Co-sponsoring Sections/SIGs:
Type of Program:  [panel, invited papers, contributed papers, etc.]
Program description: [no more the 150 words describing your program]

Hopefully this is not done in a void.  The programs that I was a part of had active people emailing each other with their thoughts on the title, type of program and description.  The idea is that the primary sponsor, collects the ideas from the co-sponsors, writes them up, checks back with the co-sponsors to see if everything is kosher, then sends it to the Section Council Liaison (this year it is Rikke). 

Once that is done the Section Council Liaison will put it all together for final review, this the time where we have the opportunity to make any last minute changes to errors or omissions.  Once it is approved the next steps will be more public for MLA members to see because in late July MLA staff will post all of the 2011 session program information on MLAnet and in August the formal call for papers and submissions to these programs will be made.

Around the same time as the posting of the session programs and the call for papers, the program planners will be emailing their Section and SIG members asking for volunteers to help review submitted papers and to serve as moderators for the session(s).  If you are member of a section or SIG keep your eyes open for our call for volunteers because your help is an important part of the annual meeting programming process. 

So that sums up the process so far.  If I wasn’t clear or you have any questions feel free to comment and I can try and answer them or shed any more light on the process.  In the next few months I will write another post on detailing the next steps to planning 2011 MLA session programs.

3 thoughts on “Section Planning From a Newbie’s Perspective: Part 3”

  1. I appreciate all the detail! Thanks. Is there a way for MLA “members at large” who are not an official part of the planning process, to have more input into program planning? I am thinking of ways either to submit a program idea or to be able to ask for certain types of programming to be sought out (other than filling out the meeting evaluation each year).

  2. The best way to help have a say in the planning process is to voice your opinions to the Sections and SIGs that you belong to. Each session planner should send out an email to the members of their Section or SIG asking for opinions or thoughts about what they want to see their Section or SIG sponsor.
    I did that with the MIS Section. I got one suggestion. I also asked the Section members who showed up at the Section’s Business meeting (another important reason to go to the Section buisness meetings) and I got a few more suggestions, giving me about 5-6 ideas for the planning meeting.

    I proposed those ideas at the planning meeting (the big room meeting where we shared our ideas) some of those ideas were picked up by other sections and others weren’t. MIS (nor I) can plan 5-6 sessions. So we go with the sessions that have the most interest among other session planners. Through some topic and description tweeking, I think I was able to get 3 of the suggestions as programs that MIS will either be sponsoring or co-sponsoring.

    The process is a little bit give and take so sometimes we adjust our original ideas a bit to make things broader and to join up with another Section/SIG.

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