Behind the Scenes at AALL – Grantee Report

This past meeting I had the privilege of serving on the local arrangements committee as the registration co-chair along with Joe Mitzenmacher. I was excited to help show off the Windy City to out-of-town AALL members from around the country, but I also had no idea about the level of detail that went into planning the annual meeting and I was a little bit nervous because event planning is not my forte. But, with Maribel Nash and Megan Butman leading the helm, we were in excellent hands and I had nothing to be nervous about. This report is intended to give you an idea of the work that goes into participating on a local arrangements committee. And it will hopefully encourage you to get involved in planning an association or chapter event, big or small—especially the upcoming 2017 MAALL meeting in Milwaukee (hint, hint).

The Chicago meeting preparation began well in advance of a year before the Chicago meeting, but my work did not begin until the 2015 Philadelphia meeting. The work in Philadelphia consisted of working a couple of registration shifts and attending the local arrangements committee wrap-up meeting at the end of the AALL meeting where the baton was passed from the Philadelphia committee to the Chicago committee. Then, starting in October 2015 the entire Chicago local arrangements committee met several times throughout the course of the year to discuss and plan for the July meeting.

The primary duty of the registration committee is to find and schedule volunteers to work at the registration desk and to run the registration desk during the meeting. That meant the bulk of the work Joe and I had to do did not occur until about two months before the meeting.  So things did not really heat up for us until mid-May. At that time, with the help of the volunteer committee (Carolyn Hersch and Claire Durkin), we started to solicit volunteers. Joe and I had 22 registration desks shifts we needed to fill with multiple volunteers. At first, this seemed liked it was going to be a daunting task. However, we quickly learned that AALL members, and especially CALL members, were more than willing to volunteer their time at the registration desk. Ultimately, we had all 22 shifts adequately staffed.

During the meeting, Joe and I made sure that one of us was present at the registration desk for the entire meeting. This meant that I did not have the opportunity to attend as many sessions as I would have liked. Nevertheless, the experience was invaluable. Working at the registration desk afforded me the opportunity to meet and greet hundreds of association members. I got the chance to catch up with colleagues I rarely see and to meet many new colleagues. This was a unique networking opportunity, especially since I am a newer member of the association. I plan on volunteering to work at the registration desk at the next meeting, and I encourage you to follow my lead and volunteer to work a shift or two, or go even bigger and volunteer to participate on the local arrangements committee for the next event in your area.

See you at the registration desk in Austin!