Making Your Case to Attend
Show how you'll be more valuable to your institution after you attend an ALA conference.
Making the case for time off and support for travel and expenses to attend a conference requires a solid understanding of the potential benefits to your institution, supervisor, and colleagues. And you need to be able to communicate those benefits clearly—especially in times of tight budgets and reduced staff. Use the information that follows to help make your case.
- Familiarize yourself with the points in “Why you'll be more valuable to your library after the conference,” and read the quotes from your colleagues.
- Get the costs together, showing how much you can save if you register and book travel and housing early. Use this sample budget worksheet if it's helpful.
- Study any preliminary information about the program that is available, identifying sessions, events, and programs that could help you do your job better.
- Share any preliminary program information with your colleagues. Talk to your colleagues who are unlikely to attend about how your attending could benefit them, what kind of information you could bring back to help them, and what sessions they’d like you to go to.
- Share program information with your supervisor and find out what sessions and programs they think would be of greatest benefit to your workplace.
- Review the topic-specific preconferences and institutes to see if any are especially applicable to you and your workplace.
- Put together a draft plan for how essential tasks will get done while you’re away, including how technology will keep you accessible and in touch as needed.
- Develop a draft plan for after you get back—describe how you’ll share the list of discussion and action items you develop during the conference, how you’ll share notes from sessions, discussion groups, vendors, and useful informal conversations, and by when you’ll provide a written report for your supervisor. Promise that you’ll focus on implementing one new idea that pays back many times the investment of time and money while improving your library's programs and services.
- Put your request in writing—use this sample memo and sample budget worksheet if they are helpful. And if you need more ideas about funding, get helpful tips and links from this YALSA blog post.