Why I May Not Be Giving My Preconference at TLA

I have mentioned previously in this space about the saga of my TLA preconference on Web 2.0 Tools for instruction librarians. A preconference that over 100 people have signed up for. A preconference that will make LIRT a lot of money. A preconference for which I am not being compensated in any way whatsoever. Well, today, it got better.

I received an email today informing me that they had not yet recieved my registration. An email telling me registration was past due. Registration which they expect me to pay for with an overnighted check or a fax with my credit card information.

I am so angry. The amount of time I have already spent on this and they want me to PAY to make them money!

Here was my response to the person from TLA and the chair of LIRT:

I was not aware that I had to register for TLA to teach a preconference for LIRT. Though I am a Texas resident, I am not a member of TLA and am not being paid to prepare and teach an all day seminar for your librarians. I will not pay for the privilege of teaching when I am being compensated no other way.

I am frankly appalled that I am being asked to pay to be a speaker at function in which I am not a member at which TLA is making quite a lot of money. I have already spent many hours preparing for this, but I will not come if I am required to register and pay to teach my preconference. I know that TLA pays people to come and speak from out of state. Why not people who are not members, who give up their time?

Please advise me on what further action I should take. I would like to be of service to TLA, but will not pay to do so. I would suggest that TLA look to other professional organizations that treat their speakers with more respect.


Michelle Boule

TLA, you should be ashamed of yourself. I am.
If I get a response that is remotely apologetic, I’ll let you know. I refused to be treated this way.
–Jane, pissed

18 thoughts on “Why I May Not Be Giving My Preconference at TLA

  • March 27, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    I have to hope that is just an administrative oversight. If not, it is simply absurd.

  • March 27, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Oof. That blows.

    I hope they’re appropriately contrite, and that they find a solution that’s satisfying to you — I’d hate to hear that your prep time had been wasted, or that your contributions weren’t being valued they way they should be.

    Why do they (I’m using the Giant Amorphous They, here) think that we’re just SO VERY EAGER to be taken advantage of?

  • March 27, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Asking you to pay is unconscionable. I’ve done two preconferences for the annual New York Library Association conference. Although I was not paid, they paid for lunch and a night’s stay at the hotel.

  • March 27, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    I look forward to the backtracking message where they reconsider what they’ve done and/or correct the rather obvious error that speakers should not have to pay to present conferences. You’re not just standing up for yourself–you’re standing up for everyone.

  • March 27, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    Unfortunately, this is a common occurence. Having worked with various state and regional library organizations, I have often been involved in the discussions as part of conference planning committees. It is an interesting situation. One would think that as a courtesy they would waive conference registration fees even if you are a member.

  • March 27, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Oh I’m sure it’s not an administrative oversight…

    Good for you! If more librarians stand up to this b.s. as you are, things will start getting better for all of us. Two other wiki-ers and I were going to speak at LITA Forum last year (they wanted us to give the same workshop twice!) and when I found out that I’d actually have to pay registration to give the talks, I bowed out. The others ended up backing out later too.

    Is our time and hard work worth nothing?

    Frankly, I would have said “no way” when they said you may not have Internet access. A full-day workshop on Internet technologies with no Internet access is just insane.

    Please do post something if/when this gets resolved. Too many people write things like this and then we never end up hearing the resolution. That, I think leads to more people getting screwed later on because they have no idea that these organizations often make exceptions.

    You deserve way better treatment than that, sweetie.

  • March 27, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    You go! This has to be just a dumb mistake.

  • March 27, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    Gah, that’s ‘orrible. Tell you what. If by some freak of chance you still teach, I’ll sign over the $400 they’re paying me for a 45-minute talk.

    Because, yeah, this? Is exploitation, and I’d like my nice clean conscience back, thanks.

  • March 28, 2007 at 9:03 am

    This sounds oddly…familiar. You can use my address if you need an out-of-state one. 😉

    Or maybe you could suggest that they comp your registration for that one day. Oh, wait – *there’s nothing else going on that day.*

    Unfortunately, whenever I present at a conference like this now, I ask about registration up front because of what happened to me with PLA. You just can’t assume anymore. If they don’t waive the fee for you, it’s their loss. For the sake of those 100 registrants, though, I really hope TLA backtracks on this one.

  • March 28, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Sadly, TLA doesn’t pay librarians in Texas – whether or not they are a member of TLA or not. I do think it’s terrible that they want a non-member to pay to present.

    As to Internet access, that makes no sense. When I co-presented a pre-conference last year, we definately had the option of having a connection. ATRT (the sponsor of the pre-conference) paid for the connection.

  • March 28, 2007 at 11:26 am

    I just got notification that my very first presentation (at a Spring meeting for my State Library Association) was accepted, and yes, I will have to pay to attend.

    This particular meeting is only $30 for members, so it’s not a big deal, but it still seems unfair.

    I hope you get the response you are looking for. I can’t believe what they’ve put you through already, and now this! Ugh.

  • March 28, 2007 at 11:33 am

    That is ridiculous. They should either pay everyone who speaks or none of the speakers. Or maybe just switch to reimbursing everyone’s travel expenses, with no extra compensation.

    At the very least, your registration should be waived. Please do let us know how this pans out.

  • March 28, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    I think this must be common practic among state library associations as it is the exact same her in NJ. I was co-chair of the conference committee for 2 years and it was my main source of irritation in the planning process that we brought in librarians from elsewhere, paid them speaking fees, gave them a hotel, etc. and yet those from our own state had to ante up and register. I always thought, at the very least, they should have their registration waived for the day they speak.
    I know that many state associations struggle to make ends meet and the annual conference is a main revenue stream, but really and truly the expertise and time from librarians within the state needs to be recognized too.
    I am presenting at NJLA later in April, but I won’t be registering. I am going to represent my library as the Statewide Reference Center and then staff our booth.
    That is why InfoToday seems like a class act in libraryland.

  • Pingback:David Lee King » Blog Archive » State Library Associations and Speaker Fees

  • March 28, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    This kind of thing happened to me a while back for an ALA preconference. Apparently the rule was that only two speakers per preconference would get comped _preconference_ registrations (I’m not even talking about the main conference, here). So since there were a number of us speaking there they tried to tell us that we had to pay to attend the preconference which we would not be attending if we weren’t speaking! So I spoke up and told the rest of the speakers that I would refuse to register, but that I would also show up and fulfill my obligation to speak. If ALA felt like it, they could throw me out. Needless to say, I spoke and I didn’t have to pay. It’s frustrating to be treated this way, but if you and me and everyone else refuses to be mistreated, then they can’t get away with it.

  • April 3, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    Um, for the record, Michelle asked me a long time ago about whether she’d have to register for the conference as a pre-conference speaker. I asked TLA, and they said she’d have to pay if she wanted to attend the conference, but she didn’t have to attend, nor did she have to register for the pre-conference workshop. I passed that on to Michelle and Gary Wan, he co-speaker. I’ve also been told that speakers at TLA can get a “speakers-only” badge that lets them do their presentation without paying for conference but not go to exhibits or attend other sessions — I’m not sure about that, though, as I’ve never arranged such a thing.

    I agree that the letter was poorly phrased, but this has all been a tempest in a teapot, and I wish Michelle had been able to check with me before she posted all this (I foolishly took a vacation last week!).

    If I attend a conference to attend other people’s sessions, whether or not I present, I expect to pay. If I’m only attending to present, I don’t expect to pay. Either way, I’d prefer to get some reimbursement for presenting, but TLA policy prevents us from doing that when the speaker works in a Texas library, since the expectation is that the library should be supporting their staff. I don’t like it, because the reality is that many libraries don’t. I’ve made my opinions known to TLA staff, which is the best way to get things to change.

    Danielle Cunniff Plumer
    Chair, Library Instruction Round Table
    Texas Library Association

  • April 5, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Wouldn’t free attendance to the rest of the conference be an easy way to compensate presenters without actually giving them any money? I would think that the percentage of presenters to non-presenting attendees would be pretty low… it couldn’t result in too much income lost.

    And re: the statement that “TLA policy prevents us from [presentation reimbursement] when the speaker works in a Texas library, since the expectation is that the library should be supporting their staff”… Why would where someone works affect how the TLA treats them? So, TLA expects Texas libraries to support their staff but not all other libraries in the world? This policy results in TLA supporting librarians EXCEPT for ones from Texas… Odd that.

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