Archive for the ‘ALA Events’ Category

Event Planner Redux

Friday, May 28th, 2010

The event planner for the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., June 24-29 is now available.  Using feedback from a survey conducted last summer, comments heard from some of our active members, and some just plain testing, several of us have worked to improve its performance.

The first big change was to impose naming conventions to the unit – subunit field for each meeting.  Divisions were simple.  A division like ACRL has the unit field of ACRL and the subunit field for each of its sections; a division without sections, like YALSA, has just the unit field.  Then we pulled all of the round tables out from under ALA, so that NMRT, GLBTRT, and SRRT will be found directly.  We sorted the Affliates by adding subfields for each of them BCALA, REFORMA, THEATER LA, etc. are now AFL – BCALA, AFL – REFORMA, etc.  Finally, we reworked all the ALA-level committees so that they stand on their own, for the most part, and are not listed under the headquarters unit providing staff support.  Thus, the Intellectual Freedom Committee is under ALA – IFC, not ALA – OIF, the office that provides the support.  This is because OIF also supports the Committee on Professional Ethics, the Freedom to Read Foundation, and the Merritt Fund.  So, if you are looking for everything sponsored by a committee of interest, start with a search of the unit – subunit.

Next we regularized how meetings are titled, so that when there are committees with the same name, like Membership Committee, we added the acronym.  This makes for more text on the print out of your schedule, but if you’re representing your division to another, you’ll know if the meeting is to get input or to present input depending on your role.  We hope it will also help with searching.

Then we tackled the on-screen messaging.  In our training room, we watched a first-time user of the planner try to complete basic tasks, discussed the missteps, and wrote up new language we hope will be beneficial to all.

Lastly, we tested, and questioned, worked with the vendor, and tested some more.

It should be better than in the past, though there are limitations.  The planner runs on a database that does not have authority control as we know it built in.  We were also working with a data file that had been prepared weeks earlier by a number of meeting planners and volunteers.  All we could do was work on vocabulary control to try to ensure greater consistency of search results.

This may be the last run for this particular planner software, though what we have learned will be helpful as we build a planner into ALA Connect.  We’ll still be working with the same meeting planning software, but we have learned a lot about configuring it and writing instructions for the meeting planners.

Do let us know what you think.  As indicated on the planner login page, contact Karee Williams,, with login and technical questions.  I am happy to field the search questions; use

Midwinter Registration on the ALA Website

Monday, August 18th, 2008

It has been brought to our attention that we said information on the 2009 Midwinter Meeting, to be held January 23-28, 2009 in Denver, would be posted on August 15, and that date has passed.  So what’s happened?

Lots, as it turns out.

ALA–both staff and the volunteer web developers–has been working for many months on a major revision to our very large (70,000+ pages), complex Web site.  At the Annual Conference in Anaheim members had the opportunity to see the new design.  This design may be previewed at a staging site.  As part of the transition to the new site, we “froze” the current website, except for the news feeds on the home page, as reported in a press release and on this blog.

But before freezing the site, we did publish information on the Midwinter Meeting, and this information is accessible three ways:

  1. Through the logo link in the upper right quadrant of the current home page;
  2. Through the preview site: starting at, click on “Conferences & Events” in the left navigation, click on “Upcoming Events,” then 2009 Midwinter Meeting, bringing you to Midwinter site; and
  3. Directly (bookmark this, if you bookmark anything).

The functionality at the staging site is limited, as we are working behind the scenes to transfer and reorganize content from the current site to its new structure.  Some paths, such as that indicated above, work as intended, even if some intermediate pages are still skeletal; other paths do not work at all; and yet others do not work as intended, but allow us to understand what needs to be adjusted.

In summary, registration for the “bundled” registration will be available September 2-30, and regular registration opens October 1.

So, I’m going to Anaheim…

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Rumor tells me that ALA has no hotel rooms left for Annual Conference in Anaheim. Well, rumor can be a helpful source — but not this time.

So — what’s the situation? At this point (May 6th), we show 7992 sold or committed rooms on Friday night, rising to 8212 on Saturday night, with 8025 on Sunday night. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the “peak nights” — the nights when there are the highest numbers of sleeping rooms being used by people attending the ALA Annual Conference. Those figures put us right in our normal range — in a conference campus with lots of hotels. It’s still possible to get a “pending” message from the ALA’s housing bureau. (As of May 6th, there are 40 “pending” reservations.) Why? Usually it relates to the specifics of a given request — a particular arrival or departure date, a specific room type or configuration. Historically, the record is good — like 100% — on clearing any “pending” requests.

Why would rooms become available late in the advance registration period? Starting at the end of this week, ALA will confirm blocks of rooms committed to exhibitors. If, for instance, an exhibitor anticipated taking 6 staff members to Annual Conference and is actually taking 5, that 6th room goes back into “inventory” — and becomes available to someone else. Typically, exhibitors will reserve rooms for the maximum number of staff they would take — on the reasonable theory that it’s easier to cancel than to get a block of rooms later. Similarly, if two conference attendees plan to room together — but each made a separate reservation — the “extra” room reservation will eventually (usually a month before conference) be cancelled and that room also will go back into inventory. Repeat those scenarios many times — and, yes, there are rooms.

So, here are some key dates to know.

  • Friday, May 16, is that last day for pre-registration for the 2008 Annual Conference.
  • Wednesday, May 28, we close the housing reservations.

What do you do if you are unexpectedly able to attend? Register. Then, call us (800-974-9833) and we’ll do our best to get you a hotel room within the block. (How that is handled varies with the specific conference site.) But do come. The lineup of speakers is great, the exhibit floor will be bustling, and there will be a wealth of connections and conversations. See you there.