An Understanding of Sorts

I have to publicly apologize to TLA for misreading their email, which I think was not quite clear. I am sorry for the confusion. I am not sure I am sorry for the flap. I still think that I should not have to pay to go to the conference, if I chose to do so. I still think I should be paid for my time. I did sign the contract knowing I would be paying my own way to get there and that I would not be compensated in any real way. I hate that our profession makes us be martyrs.

Here is the response I recieved from TLA, reprinted with permission, of course:

Dear Michelle,

There has been a misunderstanding. No one is asking you to pay for the preconference, conference, or anything. The email from the TLA office was an email to all Texas speakers (members and non-members) in case anyone wished to attend the full TLA conference (beyond the date of their session). If so, we offer all Texas library professionals (whether they elect to be a member of TLA or not) a discounted rate, if they wish to attend other sessions.

We are delighted that you are presenting this preconference and know that the information will be of great value to the participants. We very much respect your time and certainly understand if you prefer not to attend the full conference. We simply wanted to let you know that, as a Texas speaker, you could avail yourself of the lower rate for the full conference if you so wished. We’re sorry for any confusion; the note from ****** was intended in the hospitable spirit for which TLA is well known. We love the TLA conference and appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge with your colleagues around the state.

I am very interested in any recommendations or observations you have to make preconference planning at TLA better. I know that your attendance numbers have really swelled, reflecting the strong interest in the topic. I also know that experiencing such an increase in attendance creates its own set of problems, and we will work on developing solutions in the future.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Patricia H. Smith

Mr. Rochester would tell you that I tend to feel things violently and fly around with little logic occasionally. I let myself do that this time. I am sorry I was so angry so fast. I am not sorry that my big mouth got this conversation going, yet again. Do we have to do this every year? *sigh* Below was my response to Patricia, which sums up how I feel.

I really appreciate your response. I apologize as well, for flying off the handle. I will teach the preconference. In speaking with some of my colleagues, I am not the first person to have made this mistake of needing to be registered. Some of them simply went to their event anyway. Maybe an explanation that we are not required to register is needed. At other conferences which comp speaker attendance, this is made very clear from the beginning.

I would like to extend my feelings that people teaching preconferences, regardless of affiliation should be paid for their time and efforts. Similar conferences, like Internet Librarian, pay their presenters $700 for a half day conference. I know TLA pays out of state people to come and speak and what is the difference between them coming and myself. I have no affiliation with TLA other then my locale. I am still paying my own way to San Antonio.

I am happy to teach about the topic I love, but I do not believe that I should be a martyr to do so. I hope that TLA will be a leader in our profession and stand up for speaker rights. I am sorry about the flap this caused, but I think it is a topic worth discussing.

TLA and I will agree to disagree. I just want to encourage people not to be taken advantage of when they are asked to speak somewhere. The good news is that the preconference is very popular and a lot of librarians are going to benefit from hearing about 2.0 tools. The bad news is that this is the last preconference I am going to do for free. It is too much work.

–Jane, off to work on that preconference