SLA Biomedical and Life Sciences Division

DBIO Recommended Practices - Program Committee Guidelines

Solicitation of Program Ideas: The Program Committee is responsible for obtaining program ideas by:
  1. Screening suggestions for programs that are given at the Annual Business meeting.
  2. Soliciting suggestions through the Email Discussion List and Biofeedback.
  3. Polling Board members.
  4. Asking the previous Program Committee for suggestions of programs that could not be accommodated that year or in previous years.

Committee Involvement: Ideally each Committee member will be responsible for organizing one session, including identifying, contacting, and confirming speakers verbally and in writing, formulating a budget for the session, and determining space, time, and equipment needs. Care should be taken when final scheduling is considered by the Committee to prevent conflicts with other Division programs when possible, especially if the two programs would be of interest to the same general audience. The Committee Chair should facilitate this process by keeping members informed of new programs or Association programming.

Preliminary Planning: Preliminary planning is extremely important in holding quality programs. Fewer high quality programs are preferable to many lower quality ones. The Committee also should consider the likelihood that a given program will have appeal to one or more other Divisions and therefore would be a candidate for co-sponsorship as well as higher attendance. The Program Committee should consider no more than five programs that it would be expected to act as the lead Division, including the Contributed Papers Session. Because of black out times that are mandated by SLA (time to visit the exhibits, general session, and Cabinet meetings), and a desire to co-sponsor programs with other Divisions, four or fewer substantial programs is realistic. This would not include the Contributed Papers Session, Board or Business meetings, or social event(s).

The programs should cover a variety and range of topics of importance to biomedical and/or life sciences librarianship, but that are not so narrow that they will appeal only to DBIO members, or only to a small segment of the Division. A key to determining what topics will be of the most interest is to consider the Membership Committee's survey(s) of the membership and examination of the membership list. The Program Committee should be aware that convention pricing has continued to rise and that program requirements, particularly with regards to electronic equipment and wiring, costs the Division a great deal. To offset this, the Committee should consider number of speakers and travel expenses, and the advantage of locating speakers who are local or in close proximity to the conference city. While this is not always possible, it is a consideration for determining if a session might be better suited for another conference.

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Preliminary planning should begin during the winter 18 months before the meeting, with the knowledge that some programs may not materialize. Once a topic has been chosen, speakers will need to be identified and contacted. Each committee member will be assigned a program to arrange and the Program Committee Chair will serve as coordinator, providing guidance to the program organizer as to what is expected. The Committee chair may also be responsible for arranging a program if needed. Speakers will be confirmed in writing, including any honoraria or expenses that the Division will be obligated to provide. They would also receive a list of names, addresses, phone, fax, and e-mail addresses for other speakers. Each speaker would be asked to provide name(s) of persons who would be willing and able to substitute in case s/he was unable to fulfill the obligation.

The Program Committee Chair will provide the Chair of the Division with a report of progress prior to the SLA Annual Conference preceding the one being planned, including program titles and prospective or confirmed speakers. This will be presented at the appropriate meeting by the Program Committee Chair and the Chair who will at that time solicit co-sponsors from other Divisions.

Following the Annual Conference, the Program Committee will continue to contact and  confirm speakers as needed. Most, if not all speakers should be tentatively confirmed prior to September 1st. All information on the Continuing Education Course must be to the Chair-elect no later than July 1st. All other program information must be to the Chair-elect no later than September 1st of the year prior to the annual meeting being planned.
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Budget: By September 1st prior to the meetings being planned, the Program Committee shall submit a budget proposal on the form provided by the Treasurer. It shall include information on: speaker costs (honoraria, travel expenses); equipment costs (electronics, slide projectors, overhead projectors, and so forth); reception or other food costs (Open Houses, hospitality suite, continental breakfasts, luncheons, and so forth). This information may not be available until closer to the Annual Conference since SLA Headquarters staff do the negotiating for these prices. All budgetary information may be approximate and based on previous years' costs for programming, and/or prior knowledge of the costs associated with the convention for which the Committee is planning.

Conference Program Checklist Sheets: In September, the SLA Online Planner is opened up to the Program Chair. Committee members may send additional information to the Chair to be added to the online planner as sessions are firmed up. In order for information on a session to be included in the printed Preliminary Program, it must be entered by the deadline provided by SLA. This deadline typically is in October. Changes may continue to be made after that deadline, but they will not appear in the print Preliminary Program.

  1. All communication must be confirmed in writing, particularly with speakers.
  2. All speakers should be aware of other speakers and their topics for a given session. They are encouraged to be in contact with one another as well as the session planner to ensure that everyone is aware of the speakers topics, time constraints, and needs.
  3. Session planners should remain in contact with speakers even after written confirmation has been received. It is especially important that speakers receive a reminder within 2 months of the conference. The reminder could accompany a copy of the housing forms for the conference or final equipment needs form.
  4. The Division Chair should be apprised of all progress on conference programming, particularly with regard to deadlines imposed by SLA headquarters and the SLA Program Committee.
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Speakers Expenses

Sharing Expenses: When more than one Division is sponsoring a session at the annual conference, expenses for audiovisual equipment, room setup, and food events are shared. SLA negotiates the costs with the convention center or hotel and bills the Divisions for equal amounts after the conference. An estimate for a/v and related costs for each planned session is provided to the Division Chair and/or Program Planner in the spring.

Negotiated Expenses: Travel, lodging, and per diem are the responsibility of the lead Division and can be negotiated with co-sponsoring Divisions to help with support. The Biomedical and Life Sciences Division has developed a form that clearly determines to what degree each co-sponsoring Division is obligated to help fund speaker expenses. This form is signed by each Division Chair and copies are supplied to each prior to the conference. The Division will consider support for lodging of speakers at no more than the convention’s hotel rate. Speakers need not be housed in a convention hotel; lodgings of comparable quality and cost are possible. The Division will pay coach class airfare (not business or first class) at the best available rate as determined by the Program Planner. The per diem shall be based on the government rate that is published in the Official Airline Guide Business Travel Planner for the conference city. Per SLA policy, members who are speakers may not receive travel assistance.

Registration: SLA provides free registration for speakers for the day of the conference at which they speak.

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Honoraria: The Division has offered honoraria in the past on rare occasions. If an honorarium is required, it is almost always negotiable. SLA is a non-profit Sect.501(c)(3) educational organization and sometimes speakers, even very prominent ones, will charge only a fraction of their usual honorarium, or waive it. When selecting speakers, the Program Committee should consider that and not be deterred by a famous name on the assumption that there will be a large price to pay for him or her.  Federal employees are bound by Standard of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, Sect. 2635.806 Participation in Professional Associations, Subsect. 2635.807 Teaching, Speaking, and Writing: "Career employees shall not receive compensation from any source other than the Government for teaching, speaking or writing that relates to the employee's official duties."  Honoraria can be considered based on the following:
  1. If the amount that can be negotiated does not unduly stress the Division's treasury, while considering other Division expenses, both for the conference and for other activities.
  2. If co-sponsoring Divisions agree to split the costs at a rate mutually agreed upon and specified on the expense form.
  3. If one or more companies agree to sponsor the program at a level that would make paying honoraria feasible. One should always consider the fairness of offering an honorarium to one speaker on a program and not to all. Speakers requesting honoraria should be aware that the amount is fully taxable under federal law and that information will be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service.
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Rev. May 2014