Making the case to go to SLA 2009


Last June I went to Seattle, Wash. for the annual conference of the Special Libraries Association. This was a fantastic educational and networking opportunity. I urge all people working in special libraries to seriously consider going to this conference. However, I also understand the restraint most organizations are under regarding professional development, so I’ve put together some thoughts on how you might convince your employer to make this investment in you.

First of all, outline the expenses: determine registration, airfare, hotel and other costs, as well as how many days you’ll be away from work. SLA was offering a $100 discount for the first 100 registrants back in January; before I even got permission, I registered, getting this discount. (I’m so convinced of the value of this conference, I had already determined that I would pay for this out of my own pocket if my firm wouldn’t.)

Look at the program, and see which sessions are of most interest to you. Evaluate how you will take the knowledge you gain at the conference back to your firm, and try to quantify it. I’m most interested in leadership and marketing sessions, as those are areas that I would like to strengthen, and my firm doesn’t have anyone internally that can provide me with that kind of support.

If you have to, offer to pay for a portion of the conference yourself. I entered many draws at last year’s conference, and managed to win free accommodation in Washington. I’m watching for deals on airfare, and since there are many opportunities for free food, I’m not asking for compensation for meals.

I consider myself really lucky: after spending hours creating a two page memo detailing why the firm should send me to SLA2009, when I went to ask for it, my boss said “Of course you should go!” and I ended up not having to discuss any of the points I had prepared! (This is just one of the reasons I think that I have the best job!) For those of you not so fortunate, here’s what SLA suggests to prepare to successfully pitch attendance at an SLA conference (read the comments as well for an example of an actual memo).

~ Karen


2 Responses to “Making the case to go to SLA 2009”

  1. 1 Brenda Wong

    Very timely and relevant post. And I may have to crib some lines for a proposal I am working on.

  2. I can vouch for Karen – her memo was GOOD!

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