Hindsight

You know what they say about hindsight. It’s a hind. Sometimes, a big fat one. With my first conference talk under my belt, I thought I would share some things I learned.

When you are asked to speak, practice your good listening skills and read everything carefully. Sometimes the contract you sign does not put into writing the caveats you are told verbally. This is bad practice, but common.

The contract that TLA sent me said that I could not be reimbursed for travel expenses or paid an honorarium because I lived in Texas and work for a Texas library. It says nothing about conference registration. If however, I were to speak in a district other then my own for a district meeting, I could get reimbursed for that. Sounds like a crazy loop hole to me. I was also unable to find a copyright statement in the contract I signed. This is bad TLA if you think you “own” that recording you make of sessions. The contract just says I gave you permission to record me, not sell it. I do not care about this oversight, but someday, someone will and then…

Presentations are a lot of work. Preconferences are a whole lot of work. If I ever do another preconference, I want full registration at the very least, even if I am teaching L2 to the Pope.

Be very up front about the kind of technology you want in your room. Be firm. Organizations, you should be providing wired internet for presenters who want it without question and you should always have wireless. Wireless that does not cost an arm and a leg. Get it sponsored by someone or something; that is what vendors are for!

If you have to co-present, knowing your partner is much easier then not. It sometimes works out fine, sometimes not. Just be aware.

Things I would have changed:

  • I should have paid more attention.
  • TLA needs to change the way they alert speakers to their lack of registration. I am not the only person to flip out after seeing the mass email I received, so I know I am not crazy. Consider comping registration or simply wording the emails a bit different with less “overnight a check” urgency.
  • I would have liked to teach this in a computer lab or at least to a sea of laptops so that attendees could practice.
  • I think we should have taken the morning session, the examples and definitions I covered, and made that last all day. I think the audience needed more discussion and interaction and we just did not have time. I think some of the technical stuff was too much, but I found it very interesting.

This was a great learning experience for me. My only goal Wednesday was to have just a handful of the 100+ crowd leave with new ideas to use one Web 2.0 tool in their libraries.

I heard multiple times that TLA Council is going to be discussing speaker reimbursement in part because of the very public fit I threw. Good. It is not about the money. It is that there is a huge disparity between non-members who live in and out of state. TLA is a big organization with some pull in the library world. It would be great if they decided to be real leaders. Council, while you are at it, you should discuss the ridiculous requirements you have for Interest Group creation. If you have 50 people every year, you might as well be a Round Table. IGs should be small and intimate.

–Jane, handing out tickets to the Cluetrain

4 thoughts on “Hindsight

  • April 13, 2007 at 1:48 pm
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    Michelle,

    Kudos to you! Not just for the accomplishment of the preconference, but for taking the time to reflect on the whole TLA experience, and ask, “What can I learn from this?” The fact that you’ve done so (when, heck you must be exhausted), and willingly shared your frustrations, questions, experiences, and (ultimately) learnings with us, your humble readers, is remarkable.

    Thank you!

    -pete

  • April 14, 2007 at 3:50 pm
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    A great “lessons-learned.”

    You say, “It is not about the money.” This is so true. In fact, I’d say it’s not even about the in-state/out-of-state discrepancy. It’s about not taking people for granted; being open to new ideas; and being respectful of our time and effort. I’ve done freebies where I was treated in royal fashion, and I’ve done well-paid gigs where I felt like a rack of meat. It is NOT about the money.

  • April 16, 2007 at 10:59 pm
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    Some additional thoughts from someone who speaks and trains regularly in different venues (computer labs, convention centers, city halls, auditoriums) and also has worked with TLA for about fifteen years. Let me know if you think I’m biased.

    Your points concerning the contract (the speaker’s copyright and compensation) are valid. Now that you’ve brought them to TLA’s attention, my guess is that they will be reviewing the contract to see that these issues are dealt with. I know I’ll definitely be looking more closely at their future contracts.

    The issue of not reimbursing TLA members or Texas librarians has always been sticky — particularly when the districts are handled differently. This is not the first time this issue has been brought to TLA’s attention and may not be the last. We’ll see what happens with this.

    “If I ever do another preconference, I want full registration at the very least, even if I am teaching L2 to the Pope.”
    Then negotiate it! If it isn’t part of your initial compensation, then this can be negotiated (at least in Texas). TLA bends over backwards to make things happen at our conference. Negotiation of compensation (and rights) is up to the speaker.

    “Be very up front about the kind of technology you want in your room.”
    Definitely agreed! As a speaker who constantly makes technology demands for speaking/training engagements, the more technology you need, the more you need to be in charge of it yourself. If it is crucial to your presentation, then, as the speaker, you should contact the technical staff directly (keeping your initial contact in the loop). I might also encourage anyone in this situation to check the site the day before — which is usually when the technical staff is getting it ready. They have time; you have time; you’ll feel more confident when you present.

    “Organizations, you should be providing wired internet for presenters who want it without question and you should always have wireless.”
    When conferences are housed in hotels, this is much easier. The TLA conference is so large, we can only be housed in 4 cities in Texas — Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio — and we have to use their convention centers. Convention centers have been notoriously slow to provide decent Internet connectivity. Just a couple of years ago, I talked with a technical rep from one of the major convention centers — they had a single T-1 running into the building — a building that easily could house 2 or 3 conferences of the size of TLA. Guess how fast the connection was? S L O W. TLA has not provided Internet connectivity during preconferences because the connectivity has not been stable. Better not to have it than to have a connection that cannot handle the demands of the presenter. This is now changing and the prohibition be re-evaluated. It’s great to say that we should have . . . but when it comes right down to it, it really isn’t the money (although it’s expensive) . . . it’s the availability of stable access.

    “I heard multiple times that TLA Council is going to be discussing speaker reimbursement in part because of the very public fit I threw.”
    Although I’m glad that TLA will be looking at these issues, I’m not sure how having a “very public fit” was a good or even a necessary thing. As I said, TLA bends over backwards to get whatever we need. All of these issues could have been brought to TLA’s attention through the association or directly to the Pat Smith, the Executive Director. She would have appreciated hearing the details directly from you — or from any other TLA speakers.

    “Council, while you are at it, you should discuss the ridiculous requirements you have for Interest Group creation. If you have 50 people every year, you might as well be a Round Table. IGs should be small and intimate.”
    For TLA, 50 is small and intimate! 😉
    If you want to make this change, get on the Council!

    I don’t work with ALA much, so I don’t know how their conferences are run, but I do know that TLA runs one of the best state association conferences. If there are problems, we (the membership) bring them to light and try to work them out for the next year. It an evolving process. We are all volunteers in this process, so it doesn’t always move as quickly as we would like, but we’re trying.

    Other comments would be appreciated.

    Christine Peterson
    Past Chair, Digital Libraries Round Table,
    Texas Library Association

  • April 19, 2007 at 6:54 pm
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    < >

    In ALA LITA, you only need 8 people. In ALA AASL, you only need 10 people. In ALA ALCTS, you only need 10 people as well. ALA is much larger than TLA and yet they understand what small and intimate means.

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