LIScareer.com
Career Strategies for Librarians
Making a Case for Attending a Conference
by Mylee Joseph

Attending professional conferences is a great opportunity for professional development, networking,
inspiration and fun.  However, in any organisation there is a finite training and conference budget.  If you
want to attend a conference you will be competing for a piece of this pie .  There are a number of steps
that may help you to make your case.  

Do your research

Does your organisation have a policy on attending conferences?  Have you read it?

Do you need to prepare an application for a report to go to the library board or council?

Do you have the conference program?

Is there a discount for early registration?  What is the deadline?

How much time will you need to be away from the library, including travel time?

What's in it for the organisation?

Can you explain in a couple of sentences why the library will benefit from your conference attendance?  
Your director/supervisor will need this information to justify the expenditure.

How will you share the information with your colleagues on your return?

Will you be introducing any new ideas or enhancing any existing projects with information you get at the
conference?

Who will cover your duties while you are away?

What's in it for you?

How will attending the conference help you expand your skills, knowledge, contacts and resume?

Have you researched tips on getting the most out of a conference as a delegate?  For example: take your
business cards for networking, take a jacket as it can be quite cool sitting through lots of presentations
in air-conditioned conference rooms, research the speakers so you can make an informed choice about
which sessions to attend.  See Tanzi Merrit's excellent "Tips and Tricks for Conference Attendance" http:
//www.liscareer.com/merritt_conferences.htm for more ideas.

Have you considered submitting a paper to a conference you would like to attend?  Often speakers
receive a subsidised conference rate, and you can build up your resume as well.

If your employer won't fund your attendance, is it worth paying some costs yourself?  Can you claim any
tax deductions for professional development expenses?

On your return

Handling your re-entry well may have a big impact on whether your supervisor and director approve
future conferences for you and your colleagues.   

If a report is required, prepare it promptly.

Distribute useful snippets of information to your colleagues via email (with hyperlinks as appropriate), in
staff meetings, via a staff newsletter

Distribute any flyers and copies of handouts to interested colleagues.

Good luck with your application.  Remember, if you miss out this time ask for some feedback from your
supervisors, and don’t be afraid to try again!

About the Author:

Mylee Joseph works at the State Library of NSW.  Previous roles have included: children's librarian,
internet trainer, outreach team leader and library manager in public libraries.  Mylee has been a member
of the New Generation Policy Advisory Group of the Australian Library and Information Association and
she has been involved in providing continuing professional development opportunities for a number of
years as a member of the Children's and Youth Services Group of ALIA.

Article published June 2005

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