Image [cc] Ben Fredericson

Quoting fictional movie character, Peter Parker, aka Spiderman (although in some revised form it is likely attributable to a real person), “with great power comes great responsibility”, one must always remember to recognize that as bloggers the words we pen carry great power, and the need to be very responsible is of paramount importance! Indeed, it is necessary to be certain to pen words based on facts and excellent research not on emotion and poorly formulated snap judgments. For in not doing so, misinformation is disseminated and potential harm and hurt may land upon individuals caught in the crossfire of an issue.

That said having circled back and more thoroughly researched the issue of the new AALL model for choosing the annual meeting programs and its potential impact on annual meeting programming in general, SIS sponsored programs and the wonderful PLL Summit that was created several years ago and is now going into hopefully its fourth year, albeit, possibly in a slightly different form, I pen my rethought musings on this very important issue facing AALL members.

To that end, I researched three questions which were of interest to me and also seemed to be of great concern to my fellow AALL members regarding the changes coming to the annual meeting and by default the fate of the PLL Summit.

Question 1:  Is it the intention of AALL to bring the currently independent type model of the PLL Summit into the fold of the larger AALL Annual meeting? 

Answer:  The short answer is not exactly and it remains to be seen exactly what form the PLL Summit will actually take in 2013 and thereafter. As AALL President Jean Wenger wrote in her email of August 17, 2012 posted to the Members Open Forum: 

“Last year, and again this year, PLL asked AALL leadership to consider integrating the summit into the Annual Meeting. Members have expressed concern about the additional cost of the summit, including the registration fee and hotel costs they incur to attend. …. The model of requesting a meeting and then putting on a full day conference (summit) cannot be sustained across the association. ….. However, there are options available, and include targeted pre-conference workshops (half day to 2 days) proposed through AMPC, developing valued content for conference programming, and proposing an intensive learning opportunity during the deep dive sessions.”

My musings: I have hope that PLL will propose the Summit program via AMPC perhaps as a targeted 1 day workshop, it will be accepted and albeit in some type of new iteration we will have our beloved PLL Summit in 2013! I completely understand the issue of the cost to attend both a summit and the full annual meeting, but wonder how a pre-conference will be less costly. Maybe the deep dive sessions would be a better option for replacing the summit although the camaraderie of an all-day program would be lost. 

Question 2:  How will the “blind review” process that is to be used by AMPC for choosing programs for the annual meeting in Seattle work? 

Answer: From Jean Wenger’s email:

“The AMPC considers a variety of factors in the selection and slotting of programs. For the Seattle meeting, the AMPC will use a blind review process focusing solely on content. Sponsorship will not be a factor. Your colleagues on the AMPC will be tracking proposals by competency and will seek a balance of high-quality proposals on the most important issues identified by members. The important first step is to develop high-quality proposals.”

My musings: In my view, it is safe to assume that a “blind review” process of selecting programs for the annual meeting may potentially mean that any given SIS has absolutely no guarantee of any of their programs being accepted by the AMPC and it is possible that if a particular SIS submits 8 programs to the “blind review” for consideration all 8 may be accepted and none of the programs proposed by other SIS’s will be chosen. This may create a greater imbalance than in the old model of choosing programs but that of course remains to be seen. On the other hand, it could potentially result in a more balanced selection of programs that have great appeal across many SIS’s. Per the AMPC your best bet is “to develop high-quality proposals”. To that I would add highly relevant!

Question 3:  Is it true that all SISs will also be limited to sponsoring only one independent education program? 

Answer: As suspected by many SIS’s this is definitely true as evidenced by Jean Wenger’s statement in the same email referenced in the answer to question one above and copied verbatim here: 

“Each SIS will have the opportunity to present one independently produced program of their choice.”

My musings: It is what it is! Each SIS will at least have the chance to present one independent program of its choosing if it wishes to do so. But this leads me to another question – will it have to meet AMPC’s approval? Maybe someone else knows the answer to that one, as I have already covered my three questions! Please enlighten us if you do.

Finally, I am glad that these conversations are occurring and expect that if not for the creation of the PLL Summit we might have continued to limp along discontented with the status quo of the annual meeting program offerings. However, it seems that the summit and other things along the way were enough to upset the apple cart and are resulting in some changes. No doubt some changes will be welcomed and others not so much, but nonetheless change is on the horizon!  In my view change is good and helps us grow!

  • That phrase is actually attributed to Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben.

  • I don't agree with your statement "it is what it is." Last year, in addition to the Summit and in addition to the large number of PLL programs chosen by AMPC, PLL put on quite a few additional programs in time slots where we didn't have programs. It resulted in a wealth of programs for PLL members that may not be there this year. I don't generally find many programs that cover all different SIS. Having had programs accepted in each of the last four conferences I am on the fence as to what to do this year. I await final word on the PLL Sumnit as for me that will make the difference as to whether or not I go to AALL this year or perhaps join and go to SLA. I think that may hold true for others. However, I am willing to wait and give our PLL leadership the chance to work things out.

  • Wendy Lyon

    It's an interesting tension, I think – this push and pull to create programs that are both "highly relevant" (read immediately applicable to a specific SIS) and that appeal accross multiple SIS's. I went to the first PLL Summit, which was fantastic. But I missed the next two because of programming issues (I was finishing the copyright management certificate program at SLA in 2011), and location (Chicago was too close to home to pass up in 2012). I'm hoping the Summit is back in 2013 when I plan (hope) to attend AALL.

    @Caren, I have long been a member of both AALL and SLA. Whichever I attend in a given year, I explain it this way. Going to AALL puts me with "my people," and it's great to connect with my colleagues who know *exactly* what issues I'm dealing with. On the other hand, when I go to SLA, I get to step back and look at the big picture. I can see how my issues are being handled by colleagues in different industries, often with great innovation. And sometimes I get a sneak peek at an issue that is coming down the pipe, but hasn't yet reared it's ugly head in an industry that traditionally lags a bit.