The MLA Futures Task Force investigated things members within MLA should/would/want to change going forward. One of the big things that members wanted to see change was the annual meeting, specifically section programming. Members expressed frustration that section program themes were too narrow or the program themes were too closely married to the overall annual meeting theme (which was sometimes very narrow). Members wanted an abstract submission process that was responsive to the current topics and trends of librarianship, not dependent on any theme.
In an effort to address members concerns the NPC for the 2016 has changed the submission practice for section programming. Starting in 2016, the NPC will send a call out for papers and posters and they will not be asked to submit to any specific section driven theme. Once submission deadline has passed members of section programming will select the best overall abstracts then base the themes and categories off of the approved abstracts.
This is a big change for section programming. As result, the section planners for 2016 will be meeting in 2015 to discuss the changes going forward with programming planning because it will be a completely different process. 2016 section planners should be aware these changes will be happening, Amy Chatfield sent an email to all sections describing things.
Basically instead of forcing a square abstract peg into a round section programming hole, the section programming hole will be shaped around the shape of the abstract peg. This type of responsive programming is often found at biomedical conferences. The intention is for this type of responsive programming to continue in 2017 and beyond. Will it be perfect in 2016, no but we can learn from our mistakes and make tweaks to the process so that we can have the type of programming that our members and the Futures Task Force said we need.
There will be a #medlibs tweet chat discussing the upcoming section programming for 2016 on May 7, 2015. Check http://medlibschat.blogspot.com/ for more information as time gets closer.