Health Science Librarians of Ilinois

HSLI Newsletter


Serving Illinois Health Information Professionals

The Conference Process, the Return of the A/V Elf, and the Importance of Shims

The Conference Planning Process

 

The HSLI conference planning process starts a few weeks after the last conference ends. The past year’s committee looks over the feedback on the conference to make decisions on the next conference. This is why it is important to submit your evaluation.

Sometimes we pick the city based on the conference survey. Sometimes we pick a place close to the current president. Sometimes the tourism board from a city will reach out to HSLI. We try to alternate between sites north of I-80 and south of I-80. Once a city is selected, the search for a hotel begins. The overworked souls that will lead the planning effort self-select early in the process. In 2018, Miranda and Roy, who both have years and years conference committee experience, led the effort.

For the past several years, members of the planning committee have traveled to review potential hotels in person. Our goal is to get the membership a comfortable space with good food at a low cost. We also interrogate hotel staff on special diet options and allergy notices on food.  We ask about options for vegetarians, vegans, gluten free, and ingredient labels. We ask to make sure our vegan friends won’t be served the same meal several times in a row.  We tour the meeting spaces and guest rooms. We ask about audio visual costs, get meeting room rental rates, and get catering menus. We ask about available dates to book the space. We ask about what kinds of tape we can use on the walls and floor.

Daneen has been our specialist on food for years. She works up a menu and gets food costs. The committee then considers the meeting facilities, guest room rates, A/V costs and rules, dates the hotel is available, and dates of other conferences. The date of the conference is in sometimes  determined by available dates at the chosen hotel.

Once the date is set, I set up the  bare bones of the conference website. At this point, all we have is a date, location, and hotel information. The committee picks the theme and a design logo draft is made. For the past few years I’ve designed the logo and the conference committee suggests changes until we get a mutually agreeable logo. The logo and theme go to Daneen so she can start recruiting exhibitors and vendors. They publicity committee sends out “save the date” notices.

The Continuing Education and Program committees begin working on possible speakers. They look at MLA CE  offerings and conference survey feedback for ideas. Again, it is very important to do the conference survey, especially if you chose not to attend because you didn’t find the programs interesting. We need members to make suggestions so we can find programs that are useful to them. Several rounds of brainstorming, phone calls, and scheduling ensue. Travel costs for speakers must be considered.

Once there is a rough idea of costs, the conference fee is set. The registration form is designed and I fight with PayPal to get the online payment system set up.  Michelle has done an amazing job managing registration for many years. Cynthia joined the registration committee with the 2017 conference. Registration payments are forwarded to Laura to deposit into the HSLI account.

The call for posters and the call for scholarships goes out and the publicity committee pushes announcements to many listservs and newsletters.  A/V needs for speakers and exhibitors are collected. Program information is added to the website. The committee holds conference calls to make sure everything is on track. The silent auction committee solicits donations and gets publicity out. Fran and Ramune found an amazing assortment of items this year.  All this happens in the months and weeks before the conference.

As you can see, there is a great deal of work that goes into the conference every year. Many conference committee members have served in the same role for many years. I encourage all HSLI members to consider serving on the conference planning committee. HSLI survives on members volunteering their time to keep the organization running.

Serving on the planning committee provides valuable event planning experience. If there wedding planning or large party planning in your future, conference planning committee experience is extremely valuable. You will learn how to effectively negotiate with hotels, do meal planning for large groups, wrangle audio visual needs, and possible even how to create table decorations. The beautiful table centerpieces for 2018 were supplied by Miranda. The vases were from her personal collection.

Running the Conference

The first night of the conference involves fine tuning arrangements with the hotel on room setup, getting the registration table set up, and unpacking all the stuff required to run the conference. Many years ago Jerry DeWitt created a conference emergency box that holds an array of office supplies, fasteners, and tape. This year Miranda upgraded the box to a rolling toolbox. The box lets us solve many problems on the fly without tracking down hotel staff.

In the original negotiations with the hotel for 2018, we planned to contract out the audio visual equipment. The hotel did not get a contractor, so Daneen borrowed all the A/V equipment from Western and personally transported it to Rockford. Reprising my role as the A/V elf from 2016, I did the most of the A/V setup. The hotel only had tall tables available to put the projectors on, so all the projectors had to be propped up in the back with impromptu shims. We used stacks of post-it notes and soup bowls. Additionally, some of the tables were missing a foot, so the tables were shimmed up with stacks of napkins.

 

My Take-Aways from the Conference

The conference committee does all this work so we can learn from each other and from our invited speakers. I greatly enjoyed Liesl’s fire extinguisher presentation. I’ve forwarded a summary to my library’s emergency committee and preservation committee.

From the keynote, I learned that there is tons of stuff happening at the national level that I knew nothing about. Further, from Erin’s presentation, I learned that I had personally defined data management was extremely narrow. Erin did an excellent job explaining how data management is a part of the research cycle.

I enjoyed seeing the creative social media messages that my classmates produced in Karen’s session. There was great information provided on dissemination methods. If you were not able to attend, check out her slides at https://digitalhub.northwestern.edu/files/89543ba0-fb1d-4691-93b1-e19772b577c7

And of course I greatly enjoyed getting to visit with everyone and meeting some new people!

 

The Conference Committee

Here is the full conference committee roster, give them all a big thank you!

Conference Co-Chairs 
Miranda Shake   Lakeview College of Nursing
Roy Jones   Retired

Continuing Education
Frances Drone-Silvers   Carle Foundation Hospital

Exhibitors
Eric Edwards   Illinois State Library
Daneen Richardson   Western Illinois University

Finance
Laura Wimmer   Presence Resurrection Medical Center

GMR Liaison
Jacqueline Leskovec NNLM GMR

Posters
Linda Feinberg   Northshore University HealthSystem – Evanston Hospital
Charlotte Beyer Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science
Mary Pat Gordon FHN Memorial Hospital

Program
Linda Feinberg   Northshore University HealthSystem – Evanston Hospital

Publicity
Eric Edwards   Illinois State Library
Peg Burnette University of Illinois a t Urbana- Champaign Grainger Engineering Library Information Center
Ramune Kubilius   Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Reception
Daneen Richardson   Western Illinois University
Miranda Shake   Lakeview College of Nursing

Registration
Michelle Quinones   Graham Hospital School of Nursing
Cynthia Reynolds   University of Illinois at Chicago

Silent Auction
Fran Kovach   Retired
Ramune Kubilius   Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Speakers
Michelle Nielsen Ott Methodist College Library
Julie Dietrich Blessing Hospital Blessing Health Professions Library
Ramune Kubilius Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Website
Stacey Knight-Davis  Eastern Illinois University

 

One Response to “The Conference Process, the Return of the A/V Elf, and the Importance of Shims”

  1. Miranda says:

    What a great post Stacey! Thanks for always being our A/V Elf and creating unique shims. I feel the entire conference committee should take a huge bow after reading your post. We welcome new members to our merry band of conference planners too. Contact Roy or myself if you’re interested.

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