Table of Contents

Preface (2016/2018 revision)

This manual is intended as a guide for individuals and groups involved in planning the annual meetings of the association. Although key activities remain constant from year to year, the specific venue changes, and practices of MLA may vary over time, requiring refinements or changes in the convention planning process. For example, following the relocation of the MLA Business Office to Middleton, WI, some notable changes occurred in aspects of managing the annual conference, in part because the association’s membership database is located and maintained by staff at the MLA Business Office. The MLA Business Office then became the central headquarters for handling conference registrations and receipt of donations. It also produces the conference program booklet. Because convention planning unavoidably encounters some change each year, in 2003 the MLA Board endorsed the concept of having the Convention Managers prepare and distribute revisions to this manual annually in July. In 2004, the Program Committee was reconstituted and authorized to establish a formal proposal and review process for program sessions at the annual conference (effective with the program committee for the 2006 annual meeting and forward). The Local Arrangements Committee was last used for the 2015 meeting in Denver, and beginning in 2016 the conference planners have been utilizing local Convention Visitors Bureau (CVB).

Originally called a handbook, this manual was first prepared by Suzanne Thorin in 1982. Lenore Coral made extensive revisions in 1989. The Task Force to revise the Convention Manual, chaired by Christine Hoffman (other members: Ned Quist, Judy Tsou) further revised the manual between 1993 and 1994. In 1996 Board members Mark McKnight (Convention Manager section) and Judy Tsou (Program Committee and Local Arrangements sections) completed this version of the manual. Susan Hitchens brought the entire document into conformance with then current practice in 2000, when it became the Convention Manager’s ongoing responsibility to edit, revise, and update it. Gordon Rowley incorporated subsequent changes in 2003, revising and reformatting the document. Bonna Boettcher incorporated Board actions from 2003-2012, preparing substantial revisions to the document in 2008, 2010, and 2012. Laura Gayle Green incorporated Board actions from 2012-2014, with revisions in 2014. Diane Steinhaus incorporated Board actions from 2015-2016, with revisions in 2018.


While most sections of this manual contain considerable detail, two are intentionally developed more generally. More detail for the chapters on planning workshops and the MLA’s relationship to MOUG through its liaisons for conference planning is to be found in separate sources cited within them. Critical to both chapters, nevertheless, is the Convention Calendar, in which they are included with regard to specific important dates for coordinating their materials with those of MLA’s general conference. As a document under continuous revision, this manual benefits from a broad distribution among all planners of events related to the annual conferences.

Jim Farrington, Past Convention Manager Rochester, NY
Spring/Summer 2016

Diane Steinhaus, Past Convention Manager Chapel Hill, NC
Spring 2017

Wendy Sistrunk, Convention Manager Kansas City, MO
Spring 2019

Abbreviations Used in the Convention Manual

ACM – Assistant Convention Manager
CM – Convention Manager
AO Administrative Officer (was T/Ex, [Treasurer/Executive Secretary]
PC – Program Chair
AM – Advertising Manager
CVB – Convention and Visitors Bureau
CPS – Convention Planning Services
MOUG – Music OCLC Users Group
EOP – Education and Outreach Program (sponsors pre-conference workshops)

I. Convention Management

I.A Convention Manager/Assistant Convention Manager Responsibilities

See Appendix 6.1 for a position description. The primary responsibilities of the CM/ACM are the following:

  • Working with MLA’s current Convention Planning Advisor, visiting, selecting, and negotiating contracts with hotels
  • Overseeing accommodations
  • Selecting menus for receptions and other official meetings
  • Managing exhibits and selling exhibit services
  • Selling and coordinating Program advertising
  • Arranging for audio/visual equipment & internet required for meetings and sessions
  • Preparing the Convention Budget
  • Updating the Convention Manual, other documents, and statistics
  • Signage for the meeting and exhibitors
  • Liaison between the hotel staff and the Association
  • Preparing the Program Booklet and conference app

I.A.1 Liaison Activities

A number of different individuals and groups both within MLA and outside are involved in planning the annual meetings, and it is important for the Convention Manager to work closely with everyone participating in arrangements for the meetings.

The Convention Manager serves as liaison among the following:

  • Program Committee chair
  • Publicity & Outreach Officer
  • Chair of the Education Committee (if a pre-conference workshop is being planned)
  • Administrative Officer [AO] (formerly Treasurer/Executive Secretary [T/Ex]), the Board, and its Finance Committee
  • Development Officer and Committee and Marketing Subcommittee
  • The MLA Business Office
  • Web Manager
  • Coordinators of the New Members Forum
  • MOUG
  • CVB
  • Hotel staff

The Convention Manager assists the Program Committee in preparing the program proposal and prepares the budget for the national meeting in consultation with the Fiscal Officer, transmitting these to the Board and the Finance Committee respectively (see below).

The Convention Manager works with the Program Chair to assign rooms for all functions during the course of the meeting. Factors to take into consideration include size of the group, type of setup (conference, classroom (MOUG), and theater setups are generally the only setups used), and A-V equipment availability. It is advisable to establish a standard A-V package early in the planning process, so the Program Committee and presenters know what will be available.

The Convention Manager acts as liaison with appropriate hotel staff. All communications with hotel staff should go through the CM/ACM. The CM may identify to the hotel staff certain individuals who may also need to be in touch. The CM prepares the catering order and approves all banquet event orders with the hotel. These include events sponsored by others in conjunction with the meeting, MOUG or vendors.

I.A.2 Site Visits

The President and Board provide general guidance to the CM and ACM as to what part of the country should be explored for a potential meeting site (e.g. “southeast,” “middle of the country”). The CM/ACM in turn work with MLA’s current Convention Planning Advisor to determine availability of suitable hotels. After reviewing initial proposals and consulting with the Board, the Advisor schedules site visits with several hotels and the local CVB(s). The visit includes tours of the meeting facilities and general discussions of MLA’s needs. A site visit usually takes place three to four years before the date of the meeting, depending on the difficulty of scheduling hotels in any particular locale. MLA prefers to hold meetings in the hotel in which members are staying, and the hotel must have suitable meeting, banquet, and exhibit space.

I.A.3 Site Visits

Current programming requires a mix of small and large meeting rooms, breakout rooms, reception areas, and an exhibit hall.

For more detail see the Space Requirements in Appendix 6.2. The rooms should be of various sizes for sessions and committee meetings, and should include one room that is capable of holding all attendees (ca. 500 people) to be used for plenary sessions and closing event.

I.A.4 Hotel Guest Rooms

The recommendation regarding the division of singles and doubles is to reserve many more doubles, as rooms with 2 double beds are more likely to be requested than are single-bed rooms. A preferred ration is ca. 70-75% doubles and 25-30 % singles. MLA generally occupies approximately 220–250 rooms for housing attendees on peak nights (Wed.-Fri.); historically ca.1100 rooms are occupied over the course of the week MLA is in residence. Keep in mind additional room needs for MOUG/Pre-conference nights. MOUG typically draws ca.

100 registrants. For 2017 in Orlando this was a problem (their peak season) and hotel had to find additional rooms at sister hotels for Monday and Tuesday nights. For the 2014 Atlanta and 2015 Denver meetings, the hotels did not have enough double occupancy rooms available; around 115 double occupancy rooms could have been used on the highest occupancy nights of the meeting. King rooms accounted for 120-125 rooms on the highest occupancy nights. It is important to emphasize this during initial site visits. Also critical is making sure hotel will prepare separate billing portfolios for each guest. This should be clearly stated in the contract. The hotel in Orlando 2017 was not able to do this and it was not pretty.

I.A.5 Master Account and Complimentary Guest Rooms

(Fiscal Policies Handbook VIII.h.):  MLA generally receives some complimentary hotel room nights at the annual meeting as part of hotel contract negotiations. For example, in a recent contract, for every 40 guest rooms booked, MLA received one comped room. The number of complimentary nights varies each year, depending on the contract and the number of booked rooms. MLA generally earns 22 to 26 free nights. MLA also occasionally receives additional “staff” rooms at a lower rate than what attendees are paying.  The complimentary rooms are applied to guest rooms that are placed on the MLA’s master account with the hotel. (A master account consolidates all of a hotel’s product and services billing for the organization. Being on the master account simply means that MLA will pay the bill for that room.) Any complimentary rooms will be applied toward the master account rooms, and MLA pays for those not comped. Individuals on the list can ask to not be added to the master account (and forego the complimentary and paid-for nights), or can indicate that their institutions will pay for any room nights that are not complimentary. In either case, they should do so before the convention; it is difficult for the Convention Managers to resolve issues or make changes after the convention. 

The CM’s current working list of guest rooms/individual names that are placed on the master account and billed to MLA (if not comped) are as follows:  President (if not in complimentary suite per contract), Past Pres./Pres. Elect, Administrative Officer, Assistant Administrative Officer, Convention Manager, Assistant Convention Manager.

These people get discounted rooms or upgrades as available: Recording Secretary, Web Manager, Program Chair, Notes Editor, Development Officer, and past Convention Manager (because of much work done on current conference).

Add these if possible for discounts: Ad Manager, Publicity Officers, MLA Business Office representative.

I.A.6 Exhibit Space

In order to house exhibits appropriately, a securable space of 6000–7000 sq. ft. is required. MLA exhibits are “Table-top” exhibits rather than “Pipe and Drape,” although some exhibitors may set up display racks, equipment carrels, etc. in addition to or in place of their tables. Such additional furniture should not exceed their assigned spaces. The Convention Managers must approve exceptions to this. Vendors are typically guaranteed one 6-foot table, two chairs, and a wastebasket. Electricity, internet, etc. are all negotiated with the hotel or the exhibit services company that handles shipping. The use of tall, retractable banners is increasing with some vendors. However, these can encroach on other vendors’ spaces and affect sight lines, so must be approved. Tacking or taping signage onto hotel walls is prohibited.

I.A.8 Hotel Selection

The Convention Planning Advisor asks the hotel(s) for proposals, including a range of available dates for the year in question; generally MLA prefers to hold its conference between early February and mid-March. The conference should not conflict with ALA’s Midwinter meeting, and it is preferable to avoid meeting over a major religious day such as Ash Wednesday and Passover. If dates are known, other events that ought to be avoided when scheduling MLA annual meetings are meetings of the Society for American Music (SAM), the American Musicological Society (AMS), and the Major Orchestra Librarians Association (MOLA). In recent years MLA has been the first of these organizations to set its dates.

After the site visits and discussion of choices with the Convention Planning Advisor, the CM reports to the Board concerning the hotels visited. The Board discusses the report and makes a recommendation; the CM then directs the Convention Planning Advisor to finalize negotiations with the selected hotel. A contract is drawn up and signed by the President on behalf of the Music Library Association. Before the contract is confirmed, other organizations (e.g. MOUG) that normally meet in conjunction with MLA should be consulted to confirm their plans for that year’s meetings. Frequently the meeting rooms for MOUG, for example, are built into the contract with the hotel and their attendee room nights are also counted into our room night obligation. Note that MLA negotiated a 5-year contract with Hilton properties, locking in locations, room rates and dates through 2023.

The Convention Managers and Program Chair make a pre-conference site visit to the hotel eight to twelve weeks before the conference to take care of last minute details, to make sure that all room assignments, menus, facilities, and equipment requirements are as planned, to confirm the exhibit details with the contracted exhibit service, and to meet with the CVB.

I.A.9 Budget

The official budget for the convention is due to the Fiscal Officer 4 weeks before the Spring Board Meeting. The Convention Managers should begin working with the hotel in late February/Early March to identify preferred A-V providers, exhibition services providers, discuss internet costs, and obtain current catering menus. The CM must solicit budgets from Program Chair, ACM, and Development Officer early enough to work out the combined budget and submit it to the Fiscal Officer on time. The budget for any pre/post-conference workshops are due at the same time and the CMs frequently field questions regarding A-V and catering costs. The MLA budget line structure should be used by the CM.

It is MLA’s policy that the costs of the meeting should be balanced by the income, but that the conference should not be considered a source of revenue, either. Revenue sources include registration fees, sale of exhibition space, advertising in the program, donations from exhibitors, and donations from other interested parties, such as local businesses and institutions and friends of MLA from outside the locale. These donations may be earmarked for specific expenses such as the convention tote bags, the hosting of a reception, or the provision of musical or other entertainment. The Development Officer should always provide an estimate for total contributions. See also “Contributions,” below.

The costs of the convention should show both expenditures and pass-through costs. For example, if buses are to be used (for tours, etc.) and if individuals are to be charged fees for these, then there will be both income and expenditure for the buses. Similarly, MOUG’s costs are considered a pass-through as MLA pays the costs up front and then is reimbursed by MOUG. Expenditures typically include printing a paper program and expenses for Guidebook, costs of online registration programming, A/V costs (which typically include all equipment costs, such as power strips), overnight security for the exhibit area, honoraria, signage, catering (which will include service charges and taxes (if applicable)), liability insurance, any costs related to entertainment (e.g. equipment rental for the big band), and a contingency figure (usually around 5% of the total budget).

The Administrative Officer or Fiscal Officer will provide the CM with a spreadsheet of the approved budget as a matter of course or upon the CM’s request, including justifications/thoughts regarding changes made to the CM-proposed budget. The CMs monitor budget performance closely throughout the conference cycle. The Convention Manager works closely with the Business Office staff to receive regular ledger updates. The AO can also supply reports, and can offer advice and information regarding use of funds.

I.A.10 Registration Form

In consultation with the CMs, Program Chair, and the Assistant Web Manager, the MLA Business Office designs the online registration form. Those listed above, plus the Administrative Officers all proofread and test the form before its final version is made available. This form incorporates fees approved by the Board and includes information about tours and other events. The MLA Business Office can arrange access to past registration forms for informational purposes. The cut-off date for early registration should be emphasized. Note: The published cut-off date for early registration and hotel reservations should be at least one week before the date the hotel is contracted to guarantee MLA’s room block. This is necessary to provide a sufficient period of time to adjust the room block, if necessary, in accordance with bookings. Indicate all dates in words, e.g., December 10, 2016 (not 12-10-16); European members planning to attend may reverse months and days of any dates given in number format. Include MLA’s FEIN on any registration forms. It is helpful to include boxes to check if registrant requires ADA-related assistance or is a first-time attendee.  An electronic receipt will be issued after the registration is received; registrants will not receive a paper receipt unless they so request. Credit card payments are accepted (MasterCard, Visa, and American Express), and the MLA Business Office provides current information about handling such payments; a space must be provided on the form for the card number, expiration date, and signature. In 2012, exhibitor registration was moved to an online form. Beginning with the 2014 conference anyone registering or exhibiting at the annual meeting had to create an account through the MLA website (using the membership management system). The Business Office may need to provide assistance to exhibitors in particular who use this system only once or twice a year or who are not members of MLA.

I.A.11 Conference Refunds

A refund of conference registration fees (including pre-conference workshops) is issued at the discretion of the Convention Manager and only for emergency situations. Refunds will not be given for unused banquet tickets, if applicable. If a refund request is approved, 20% of the conference registration fees will generally be deducted and retained by MLA to cover transaction costs and initial expenses. Tours and concert ticket refunds are dependent on the policies of the third-party providers. This policy supersedes all former policies concerning refunds of conference registration fees. (Board minutes, 03/2016, 08.b) Refund requests must be submitted in writing by the last day of the meeting; MLA will respond to refund requests no later than 30 days after the end of the event. (Board minutes, 03/2018, 08.b). (FPH, 8.d)

I.A.12 Contributions

The CMs, the Development and Publicity Officers, and others are involved in securing contributions to support the conference; the Development Officer takes a leading role in coordinating all fundraising. All funds raised, including those from local contributors, are deposited with the MLA Business Office to ensure appropriate acknowledgements of donations received in accordance with IRS regulations and in the conference program booklet. The MLA Business Office, through the Administrative Officer, reports funds raised to the CM, who is responsible for keeping track of them for the purpose of balancing the convention budget, and to the Development Officer. Contributors are acknowledged in the conference program and with appropriate signage at breaks, receptions, etc. The MLA Business Office ensures that contributions are reported in a timely manner to the Administrative Officer, Development Officer and ACM for acknowledgment on signage, and that the MLA President has a list of contributors in order to officially acknowledge donations in support of the conference.

I.A.13 Exhibits

The ACM’s primary area of responsibility is as liaison to exhibitors, both working with the vendors who are exhibiting that year as well as the Exhibitor Services company. The MLA Business Office maintains the official list of potential exhibitors, many of whom carry over from year to year. ACM should also consult with Ad Manager and IAML for additional potential exhibitors. The ACM works with the Business Office to update the online exhibitor registration form, which should be activated in early September (ideally, but in the Fall in any event) each year. In order to update the form the ACM conveys the following information to the Business Office: table rates, including any discounts and drayage credits for corporate members and patrons; program advertising rates; information about packet inserts. Deadlines for ad copy and packet inserts, as well as for table registration are established in consultation with the Business Office. In early April ACM sends out RFP for bids from exhibit services companies. Determine which source will be the most economical, efficient, and reliable, and arrange for appropriate signs for all exhibit tables. The ACM sends “save the date” information to potential exhibitors late summer and prepares a formal invitation message to exhibitors, which is e-mailed to exhibitors by the Business Office or by the ACM through the MLA membership management software when the registration website is functional.

The Business Office notifies the ACM when exhibitor registrations are received and paid and the ACM communicates with the exhibitors to let them know their registrations have been received. The ACM maintains a list of exhibitors and contact information for the exhibition services firm, who will send additional information separately. Any follow-up with the exhibitors, such as reminders of deadlines or necessary payments, is handled by the ACM, working closely with the Business Office.

The ACM works with hotel staff, corporate sponsors, or third-party service providers, as appropriate, to ensure that the required number of electrical connections will be available to exhibitors desiring them. The hotel or its A-V services provider usually provides internet services. The ACM should monitor the cost of internet service and attempt to negotiate overall rates for exhibitors, if possible. The ACM does not negotiate on behalf of individual exhibitors, but for the exhibit space as a whole. The ACM should also ask the internet provider/hotel if they are willing to negotiate with individual exhibitors.

To determine the likely fee for exhibitors, the ACM ascertains the costs for the rental of tables (if not provided gratis by the hotel), charges of any required Drayage Service (cartage of exhibit materials to and from the hotel, if the hotel cannot store incoming exhibits), cost of signage and draping for tables or booths. A very rough formula for a minimum exhibit fee adds the above expenses and the cost of a registration plus any other food/beverage costs, then double that total. The ACM should also monitor exhibit rates of related organizations (ARSC, AMS, SAM)

to ensure that MLA’s rates are comparable. Exhibit fees are determined by the Board at its spring meeting, based on the recommendation from the Convention Manager as part of the overall convention budget.

The goal of the exhibits is to make available to MLA members the goods and services used by music libraries and to further closer ties between dealers, suppliers, and music librarians. Making money to defray convention expenses for the Association is another goal, and the need to secure contributions to help reduce costs for convention events is still another. Sometimes receptions and/or coffee breaks have been sponsored, at least in part, by contributions from exhibitors or other corporate sponsors.

The ACM contracts with an exhibit services company to handle cartage of exhibits materials to and from the hotel, if the hotel cannot store these materials. The contracted drayage firm may also supply electrical connections, computer and video display equipment, as well as supply and drape exhibit tables, if the hotel cannot. The exhibit services company should provide floor layout plans at no additional cost; this is ideal, given these providers are often familiar with the host hotel and local fire codes regarding aisle width and egress requirements.

The ACM is responsible for arranging with the exhibit services provider all signage for the exhibitor tables, registration area, exhibit entrance, contributor acknowledgment, and other signage as needed.

The ACM, in consultation with the Hotel’s Convention Services rep, will hire overnight security to safeguard the contents of the exhibits when the exhibit hall is not open to the public. This can be in-house security or contracted from outside. Costs for this service should be included in the exhibits budget.

The ACM must be in close contact with the MLA Business Office regarding exhibitor registrations. As part of exhibitor registration, the exhibitor registration form indicates information and payment for additional attendees (if more than the allowed number per table), meals, tours, and nametags. The ACM must keep track of the names of exhibitors attending and the number of tables for each exhibitor, and provide this information to the exhibit services provider. The MLA Business Office identifies Corporate Patrons and Corporate Members among the exhibitors for proper identification with name badges. During the exhibitor move-in, the ACM should personally distribute exhibitor packets. The ACM also submits exhibitor descriptions and names of registered exhibitors to the MLA Business Office for inclusion in the conference program. The ACM provides clear (PDF) copies of the hotel floor plans to the MLA Business Office for the conference program and mobile conference application.

I.A.13 Program advertising

The Advertising Manager coordinates advertising for the conference program with fees set by the Board. The inside front and back covers, and the outside back cover are available for advertisements, inside pages, and web advertising is on a first come, first served basis. Instructions for purchasing program advertising (program book and online) are included with the early September message to exhibitors. All advertisers should submit copy as PDF files format directly to the MLA Business Office; however, some will nonetheless submit copy to the AM, who will work closely with the business office to ensure that all ads are accounted for before the program goes to print. The AM works with the web manager to include these ads in whatever mobile application might be used for the conference. A list of all program advertisers is included in the conference program, unless space is unavailable.

Refunds due to cancellation of advertising in the Program Book will be given if they are received according to the cut-off dates identified in the Fiscal Policies Handbook. (FPH, 8.c)

I.A.14 Corporate Members/Corporate Patrons

Corporate Patrons receive the following discounts: 25% off the charge for renting the MLA mailing list (available only up until the conference); 20% off all advertising and exhibit fees; 200 lbs. of drayage/table. Corporate Members receive 10% off mailing list rentals and all advertising and exhibit fees, as well as 100 lbs. of drayage/table. (N.b.: always verify discounts annually with the Administrative Officer.) These discounts must be considered when estimating exhibitor and advertiser income for the convention budget. Corporate Members and Corporate Patrons of MLA should receive preferential locations in the exhibit area, and if possible, a different appearance to their table(s) to indicate their special status, e.g., a different colored skirting or bunting for their table(s). Signs for their tables should indicate that they are Corporate Members or Patrons, and their nametags should denote their status. Corporate Members and Corporate Patrons also receive logos by their entries in the printed program and an appropriate designation in the online version of the program (PDF copy of the program and in any mobile conference application such as Guidebook).

I.A.15 Payments

The MLA Business Office receives all exhibitor payments online. If an exhibitor wishes to pay by check, there will be a “bill me” option in the registration. The Business Office and the ACM should double check to ensure payment is made (invoices were not automatically issued for the 2014 exhibitor registrations). The ACM receives and verifies invoices for exhibitor tables and related charges (e.g. electrical, telephone, internet connections), drayage and security, and transmits them to the MLA Administrative Officer for payment. This includes invoices from the hotel, the copy shop (when necessary), and authorized expenses from program and workshop speakers. All invoices should be accompanied by a Request for Payment (RFP) from the CM/ACM (available at For complicated RFPs, please feel free to consult with the AO for assistance/collaboration.

I.A.16 Convention Calendar

Appendix 6.2 is an approximate guideline.

II. Program

II.A Program Chair and Program Committee Responsibilities

The Program Committee, in cooperation with the Convention Manager (CM), is responsible for preparing the programs for annual meetings and for conducting all business concerning these programs.

The Program Committee consists of six regular members. Two members will be newly appointed each year, one for a three-year term and one for a four-year term. The appointee with the four- year term will chair the committee two years later, and the current year’s Program Chair (PC) will stay on an additional year as past-Chair. In addition, there are the following ex officio members: a liaison from the board, a representative from the Education Committee, a liaison from the MOUG program committee, a liaison from MLStEP, and the CM. Personal members shall serve through the end of the annual meeting for which they were appointed. Ex officio members do not vote on program proposals but should otherwise be included as much as possible in Program Committee communications and decision-making. The PC works closely with the chair of the Education Committee or a designee on pre-conference/post-conference workshops (from the MLA Administrative Handbook).

The Program Committee reports directly to the Board of the Association. The PC prepares a budget for speaker travel and honoraria and submits it to the Finance Committee for consideration at the spring Board meeting. The Board sets a budget for speaker honoraria at the spring meeting. Following the program proposal review process, the PC confirms the amount needed for travel, lodging, and honoraria for invited plenary and program session speakers who are not MLA members and notifies the Finance Committee Chair and the CM. In late April/early May, the CM will request final Convention Budgets from the Program Committee and the Education Committee (if there is to be a pre- or post- conference workshop) and prepares a unified Convention Budget to submit to the Finance Committee. The Board approves the Convention Budget or recommends changes at its spring meeting.

The PC is responsible for meeting room assignments; the CM is responsible for negotiating the arrangements and expenses for audio-visual equipment and refreshments with the hotel.

See the Administrative Handbook of the Music Library Association, section VI.H.6 for the Charge, Membership and Procedures and Policies of the Program.

II.A.1 Program Chair Calendar

The timeline in this calendar is approximate; the Convention Manager will issue a calendar with precise dates, in coordination with the current MLA Calendar. See Appendix 6.2

II.B Program Guidelines

The Program Committee is responsible for the programmatic content of the annual conference, and establishes criteria for reviewing proposals. In addition, the Chair of the Committee is involved in producing the conference program. The following guidelines outline processes and procedures to be followed.

  1. Session Proposals
  2. Program Schedule
  3. Equipment and Meeting Room Assignments
  4. Fees and invitations to speakers
  5. Board Meetings
  6. Special Events
  7. Business Meeting, User Group Meetings, Chapter meetings
  8. Producing the Program

II.B.1 Session Proposals

Proposals for plenary, poster, and other program sessions are received from committees (sponsors), from the membership-at-large, and from non-members. Individuals do not need the sponsorship of a committee or other group to propose a session. Committee proposals should include at least one speaker who is a member of that committee, but guest speakers can be involved if it is a panel discussion. Committees may jointly propose a session. There are no limits on the number of sessions an individual or committee can propose, but the Program Committee will look to balance the program as fairly as

The proposals are reviewed by the voting members of the program committee and the committee is authorized to decide which sessions are accepted. The Program Committee may choose not to accept an entire session as proposed, but may combine facets of several proposals to create sessions they think will be more appropriate for the program. As part of the review process, consult with the CM on how much hotel space is available for program sessions and what the audio/visual budget is, as the number of program rooms will affect A/V expenses.

The following program sessions are often regular parts of the annual meeting program but not reviewed by the Program Committee. Prior to creating a program grid, the PC should communicate with each committee’s chair to see if they plan to hold the session that year.

  • Public Services Town Hall
    • Public Services Committee
    • Formerly “Hot Topics”
  • CMC Town Hall
    • Cataloging and Metadata Committee
  • Best of Chapters
    • Best of Chapters Committee
  • Get Involved
    • Career Development and Services Committee

There are other types of sessions that have been discussed or held, such as a lightning round or unconference, that would likely not be reviewed by the program committee along with other proposals, or perhaps not at all. Ideas/proposals for these sessions could be solicited in a separate call sent out by the program chair.

In the past, live remote presentations have been discouraged due to technical difficulties and potential increased A/V costs. Presenters are encouraged to record a video of their session instead. The PC should consult with the CMs and possibly the MLA President about this issue, prior to releasing the CFP.

Once the deadline for proposal submissions has been reached, the PC puts proposal information (title, abstract, speakers, etc.) into an online spreadsheet for voting members of program committee to review and gives committee deadline for reviewing proposals. Include a column for each voting member to score each proposal and give comments. Remind committee members of criteria and voting scale for evaluating proposals.

The PC sends the CFP to MLA-L and committee chairs e-mail list, and the call for meeting rooms to the committee chairs, MLA-L, and chapter chairs e-mail lists. Use CFP language from recent meetings as a model. Set the online form so proposers receive a confirmation e-mail.

II.B.2 Program Schedule

Conference program sessions take place from Wednesday afternoon (pre-conferences) to Saturday afternoon. There have traditionally been two to three plenary sessions, and no other sessions should conflict with them. However, the 2018 meeting in Portland used only one large ballroom in the hotel, which served as the exhibit area Wednesday through Friday, and was then used as a plenary room Saturday. If possible, committee business meetings and interest group meetings should be scheduled during contiguous blocks of System User Group meetings generally have often been scheduled Saturday afternoons, as this tends to be the least desirous time for programmatic sessions. Evenings generally are reserved for Chapter meetings (Thursday evening), receptions, concerts, and a closing reception. When possible, having at least one free evening for members to explore the city is desirous.

Use the previous year’s program as a guide for your program schedule. In particular, a previous program grid will be helpful (located in Program Committee Dropbox folder). The PC should keep in mind the need for breaks and mealtimes. The length of the plenary session is generally 85 minutes long, and committee meetings should not exceed 85 minutes in length. Program sessions should allow for 5-minute breaks (i.e., 25-, 55-, 85-minute sessions rather than 30, 60, and 90 respectively). In conjunction with the CM, the PC will suggest a schedule and rooms for all program sessions and committee/interest group meetings.

Determine any schedule conflicts from the forms submitted by Chairs and the administrative structure and try to resolve them. The Cataloging and Metadata Committee (CMC) meetings schedule can be tricky, particularly if there are several CMC-related program sessions. CMC typically holds two business meetings, plus subcommittee meetings. It is recommended to block CMC meetings first and to carry their schedule over from year to year. Work with the CMC chair to avoid conflicts as much as possible, but know that there will be times when the PC must choose between scheduling groups against one another: that’s life.

Schedule a 30-minute morning and afternoon break (typically at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.), and at least a 30-minute lunch period, to allow members to visit Exhibits. An hour for lunch is desirable, particularly if easily-walkable dining options are limited.

During the scheduling process, the PC and CM should be in close contact for any questions that may arise. The CM will handle any concerns, conflicts, and unusual requests for small meeting spaces.

The PC should block program sessions and business meetings using a program grid from a previous meeting. Program grid files (.xls) for Orlando 2017 and Portland 2018 are available in the Program Committee Dropbox folder.

The PC will issue a call (separate from program sessions) for business meeting room requests for committees, interest groups, and system users groups. It is discouraged to have program sessions or presentations at these business meetings. Use language from recent meeting call e-mails as a model. Set the online form so requesters receive a confirmation e-mail.

II.B.2.a Pre- and Post-Conference Workshops

Other pre- or post-conference workshops may be sponsored by the Education Committee of MLA (and are not reviewed by the Program Committee). Pre-conferences are generally held on Wednesdays and post-conferences on Sunday afternoons. The Program Chair should be in communication with the Education

Committee and the CM re. any potential pre- or post-conference workshops. If these will be held at the conference hotel, it’s good to know that as soon as possible.

II.B.2.b Tours

The Past Program Chair is tasked with determining the viability of local tours (not including the Organ Crawl), in conjunction with the local CVB and any local MLA members who might want to help.

II.B.2.c Music OCLC Users Group (MOUG)

MLA coordinates its meetings with MOUG, which usually holds theirs prior to MLA (Tuesday morning/afternoon through Wednesday morning; the MOUG Board meets Monday night and Tuesday morning). MOUG sessions/speaker names/events should be entered into the online program software (e.g. Sched) by the PC.


The PC finds volunteers to monitor the chat box for streaming sessions (for questions from remote attendees). Potential volunteers are members of the program committee, reduced registration volunteers, or the membership at large.

II.B.3 Equipment, Meeting Room Assignments, and Seating Setup

A standard equipment setup will be requested by the CM for two program rooms. This includes video display and audio Live internet connections usually are available, but wiser presenters know better than to trust a live demonstration. Playback equipment for CDs and DVDs will not be provided, but a laptop might be available at the podium of the plenary room to facilitate changing between presenters, at the request of the streaming company, VCUBE. In any event, presenters should bring their own portable computers, as well as any adapters needed to connect to the provided setup, in addition to a flashdrive. The PC informs program speakers prior to the conference of the exact equipment setup in their assigned presentation room, particularly if they will need to plan on using a shared laptop (plenary room) or their own laptop (breakout room). The only other equipment provided is power for the central table in the CMC room, and also for the Board meeting before and after the conference.

No audiovisual presentation equipment (projector, microphone, screen, wired internet, etc.) will be made available for committee and interest group meetings.

Non-standard equipment requests will not be approved unless they can be accommodated without increasing A-V costs. Check with the CM to find out if late requests can be accommodated. Be prepared to say no or ask the CM to do so.

Starting with the St. Louis 2019 meeting, program proposers had the option of requesting different kinds of audience seating arrangements. Possible seating arrangements at many hotels are theater (chairs in rows facing presenter), classroom (chairs in rows facing presenter, with tables), and banquet (round tables with chairs around, good for group discussion). In advance of sending the CFP, the PC should check with the CM to see what audience seating arrangements are possible per the hotel, then make those choices available on the CFP.

II.B.4 Fees and Invitations to Speakers

The Program Committee may request travel, lodging, and honoraria for invited plenary session speakers who are not MLA members during the annual meeting. In some circumstances, MLA may offer travel and lodging to invited non-MLA speakers at non-plenary program sessions. Any requests are to be made for the Spring Board meeting and become part of the Convention budget. These requests should be made through the Convention managers. (Fiscal Policies Handbook, 8.a) If possible, finding local speakers is encouraged to eliminate any transportation and accommodation expenses.

Official invitations must be sent to outside speakers after the Board approves the expense, confirming the date and time of the talk, and the total amount approved for expenses and honorarium. The PC may not offer an honorarium to speakers until after the spring Board meeting. If there is a panel of speakers, the Moderator of the panel will be the contact person for the invited speakers.

Two weeks before the fall board meeting (before the annual conference), the Administrative Officer and Fiscal Officer should be sent a final list of the outside speakers who will receive honoraria and/or travel support, along with the amounts budgeted for each. (A spreadsheet template is available.) Include mailing addresses and the speaking date for all recipients of honoraria and travel support. It is also helpful to share the name of the sponsoring committee chair, interest group coordinator, individual, etc., so the AO has a contact for each speaker. The names will be added to the board’s Approved Vendors list in the fall. Alternatively, the CM or Program Chair can submit RFPs for each speaker to the AO for payment after travel has occurred.  

Recipients of travel reimbursement should be advised that they must provide copies of all receipts—hotel, rental car, gas, parking, etc.—in order to receive reimbursement. Receipts may be submitted directly to MLA’s Administrative Officer, and every effort should be made to do so within 30 days of the travel event. Speakers should also be advised that they will need to provide social security numbers (SSN) directly to MLA’s Administrative Officer, before payment, if their honoraria or other awards will total over $600 for that person that fiscal year (these must be reported to the IRS each year). Please note that social security numbers should not be transmitted by email, nor should (unencrypted) lists containing social security numbers be transmitted by email. It is helpful if the CM’s can share the AO’s contact information with speakers. Two separate checks will be sent for the honoraria and travel reimbursement.

Non-MLA speakers are provided with nametags and conference program books. At least four weeks before the convention, send a list of non-MLA speakers to the MLA Business Office with a request that nametags be made. Non-MLA speakers are welcome to attend program sessions at no charge (not including the closing reception). Coordinate with the Business Office as to how the name tags should be provided to the speakers (made available at registration/PC hand-delivers them to speakers or session moderator/other solution).

II.B.5 Board Meetings

Following is a typical recent meeting schedule for the MLA Board. Contact the President prior to scheduling these meetings, to determine the needed schedule. The Board may need power strips provided during these meetings. Coordinate the power strips and any other A/V requests with the CMs. When determining how large of a meeting room to reserve for the Board, be sure to account for up to 4 guests, in addition to the number of people on the Board.

Tuesday 9 am-5 pm – Full Board Meeting
Wednesday 8 am-4 pm – Full Board Meeting
Sunday 8 am-12 pm – Full Board Meeting

Prior to 2013, the Finance Committee and Board Planning Group met Monday afternoon. Contact the MLA President to determine whether these meetings should be scheduled.

The Board should meet in the same room for all its meetings, if possible (although the President may decide to host the Finance Committee meetings in the Presidential Suite).

The Board may call additional meetings during the Conference. Generally, these meetings are not scheduled ahead of time, and the meetings generally take place in the President’s suite.

II.B.6 SPecial Events

The following events are scheduled:

First-time Attendees/New Members Forum and Buffet: held Wednesday evening prior to the Opening Reception. This includes a buffet of heavy hors d’oeuvres and non- alcoholic beverages in a room that can accommodate 75 people, complete with tables.  Because this is during the dinner hour and before the opening reception, something akin to a light meal is provided.

Opening Reception: held Wednesday evening from 7 pm to 10 pm in (or near) the exhibit hall. Exhibits are open during these hours, and one or more of the exhibitors may subsidize the reception.

Donors’ Reception: The President and Development Officer usually host a donor’s reception prior to the Opening Reception. This reception is by special invitation, held in a room accommodating approximately 60-70 attendees. The room ideally will be one of the more elegant spaces in the hotel, preferably with windows. The reception food (including open bar) is generally higher end.

Closing Reception: A closing reception is normally held on Saturday at the end of the conference. It has been customary for the MLA Big Band to perform during the closing reception, along with other volunteer performers from the membership. The PC does not plan any part of the banquet but does include it in the program schedule.

MLA Big Band: The Big Band generally rehearses every night beginning at 7 pm or 8 pm. A room needs to be reserved and arrangements need to be made for storing stands, percussion equipment, etc. The PC and CM should collaborate on this. A piano may be needed. Depending on the hotel, there may be an acoustic one that is available, or else an electric keyboard can be rented for the week. The Big Band coordinators are responsible for instrument procurement.

Poster Sessions: Space should be allocated in the hotel for 5-6 4’x8′ double-sided poster boards, underneath which are placed tables. The PC consults with the CMs on the best location for the Poster Session. Poster sessions are generally held Fridays 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. The PC needs to send out guidelines (PDF) to poster presenters after their presentation has been accepted and well before the conference takes place; this file is available in the Program Chair Google Drive Account.

Chapter and Committee/IG Leadership Meetings: Ask the current MLA President and President-Elect if the following meetings will be held: Chapter Chairs, Web Site Editors, and Newsletter Editors; and the Committee Chairs and Interest Group Coordinators. If yes, schedule a meeting room. Prior to 2013, these meetings were breakfasts and since then have generally been regular business meetings.

NOTES Luncheon: The only scheduled luncheon is for NOTES staff and is By Invitation. The editor of NOTES is the host and will make the arrangements, in consultation with the CM.

Hospitality Suite: The Board will determine if a hospitality suite is to be open during evenings without an event open to all members. This has not occurred in many years!

Quiet Room. In St. Louis 2019, a “quiet room” was scheduled for the duration of the conference. The ability to offer a quiet room will depend on room availability at each hotel. Consult with the CM.

Concert or other Event: The PC (or delegate to program committee members) may wish to research what concerts or other events are taking place during the conference, and provide that information on the conference website.

Welcome. Usually there is a “welcome” session, held during the 30 minutes prior to the first plenary session. The PC should coordinate with the MLA President and the CM to determine the schedule for the welcome session. There may be a local speaker who invites the membership to the area, a brief welcome from the President, and announcements from the PC, CM, and potentially other special officers.

II.B.7 Business Meeting, User Group Meetings, Chapter Meetings

MLA Business Meeting: held on Saturday, typically from 3:30 to 5 p.m., at the conclusion of the conference, before the closing event. (Check with the CM before scheduling the time. Depending on the hotel site, the room (or part of the room) used for the business meeting is also used for the closing event, and often a minimum of 2 hours is needed for hotel staff to “turn” the room around into the configuration needed for the closing event.) The MLA President sets the agenda for the Business

During the Business Meeting, the PC gives a report. Also, the current PC and future PC are responsible for inviting the membership to the next year’s meeting. This invitation is often done using a promotional video from the future meeting site’s Convention and Business Bureau.

Coordinate with the future PC and perhaps the Web Manager (who in the past has created a conference logo and added it to the end of the video) and CM (depending on technology needs) to determine who does this task.

System User Group Meetings: held simultaneously, often during an afternoon or early evening. Each User Group’s coordinator should submit a request for a meeting room. If a coordinator does not submit a request by the deadline, ask directly if they need a room.

Chapter Meetings: Chapters are invited to hold a meeting Thursday evening. The Chapter Liaison (President-Elect/Past President) should be in close contact with the chapters to determine which plan to hold a meeting and if they plan to meet in the hotel. If a chapter does not submit a meeting room request by the deadline, contact the Chapter Chair and ask if they need a room.

Resume Review Service, Placement Desk, and Interview Room: Consult with the Placement Officer for times when s/he will be available to advise job seekers. The Placement Desk is usually located in the exhibit hall, or immediately outside the exhibits. Often the Placement Service and Resume Review Service are willing to share a table. The PC reserves a meeting room for the duration of the conference that can be used as an interview room; consult the CM as necessary. The interview room does not appear on the program schedule. You can “hide” it in the online program software (Sched). The Resume Review/Placement Service does not have a room but does appear in the program schedule.

Planning Meeting for Next Year: Traditionally there is a meeting held Sunday morning, to recap this year’s meeting and help plan for the next meeting. This meeting is usually for the Business Office, AOs, CMs, PC, and web manager. Check with the CM to see if this meeting should be scheduled.

II.B.8 Producing the Program

The PC is responsible for producing the conference program, both online and in print.

Once the program grid is finalized, enter the information into the online program software (Sched). Use the previous year’s program as a guide. The Assistant Web Manager provides the PC and CMs with access to the online program software and the PC and CMs will update it as needed prior to and during the conference.

After a draft of the conference program is available in the online program software and prior to registration opening (sometime in October), e-mail conference presenters and those who submitted business meeting requests, asking for any revisions or updates. Give them a deadline. At this time, the PC may also inform program of the exact equipment setup in their assigned presentation room, particularly if they will need to plan on using a shared laptop (plenary room) or their own laptop (breakout room). Consider also communicating presentation best practices: for ex., sharing an abstract with all speakers, especially if session is a panel, keeping introductory bios short, encouraging the consistent use of the microphone during presentations, etc.

For the print version of the program, consult the MLA Business Office for current formatting guidelines for program copy. Use the previous year’s program as a guideline. Perhaps ask for any updates from presenters/meeting requesters again prior to sending draft of print program the MLA Business Office.

After the Fall Board Meeting, the Board liaison will convey comments to the PC. The final draft of the program is submitted as a PDF to the Web Committee to post on the conference web site. Any updated files (for example, after room assignments are finalized) are incorporated into the online program software (e.g. Sched).

The final program (ibcluding indexes) must be submitted to the MLA Business Office electronically, in the format designated by the MLA Business Office, and by the deadline set in conjunction with the MLA Business Office. Submit copies to the Board liaison, the CMs, and the President at this time as well.

The following phrase must appear before the beginning of the program section:

Note: Business meetings are generally open to observers, but participation is limited to committee members only. Boldfaced meetings are generally considered open, or program meetings. Smoking is prohibited during meetings or sessions.

Plenary session titles are in bold. The President and the Board must approve changes to this format.

Local arrangements information (restaurants, things to do, travel information) should be made available on the conference website. The PC asks members of the program committee to contribute this information, and works with the Web Manager to post it before conference registration goes live.

III. Local Arrangements

The last official Local Arrangements Committee worked on the 2015 meeting in Denver. There were several chapter members who helped out for a special Chapter-sponsored break at the 2016 Cincinnati meeting, but it was not an LAC as in past years. The duties that had been included as this part of the document have been divided up between the CMs, Program Committee, Development Officer, Publicity Officer, and others responsible for specific tasks.

This move away from LACs was a natural outgrowth of MLA’s increasing reliance on the Conference Planning Advisor’s help to determine the best cities for MLA to meet, rather than waiting for an invitation by a Chapter and MLA member institution to a city. Both the 2014 (Atlanta) and 2015 (Denver) meetings were held in those cities after hotels in the first choice cities (Nashville and Salt Lake City respectively) did not pan out. A number of the tasks that had been the province of the LAC (e.g. compiling the restaurant list) are now being handled by the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) of the city in which MLA meets, working closely with the CMs and Program Chair. Should MLA meet again in a city with individual members who would like to help with the convention, their involvement will be at the direction of the CMs and Program Committee.

IV. Workshops

MLA pre- or post-conference workshops support the continuing education mission of the Association. The Education Committee sponsors or co-sponsors MLA workshops; these do not fall under the purview of the Program Committee. Instead, the MLA Board reviews and approves the program content directly. Workshops require coordination among the Education Committee, other sponsoring groups if applicable, the CM, the Administrative Officer, and the MLA Business Office. The workshops, which have no pre-determined length or place on the schedule, must be self-supporting.

Due to timing issues related to the convention budget approval, planning for workshops should commence shortly after the close of the previous MLA Annual Meeting. Proposals must be submitted to the MLA Board for consideration at the June Board Meeting in order to prepare the conference budget.

IV.A Preparing a workshop Proposal

Note: A sample proposal is included at the end of this chapter.

The sponsoring group(s) should identify a workshop coordinator who is responsible for writing the formal workshop proposal, which should contain the following information:

  • Sponsoring organization(s)
  • Location (hotel or off-site), proposed date and time
  • Background/purpose
  • Program/content (including list of confirmed and potential speakers)
  • Outline of program
  • Minimum/maximum number of registrants
  • Recommended registration cost (MLA members and non-members)
  • Contact hours
  • Instructor profiles
  • Proposed budget
  • Marketing plan, if the group(s) intend to offer the program to those who are not MLA members


The workshop coordinator should work with other groups that have a special interest in the workshop topic, including MLA committees and MOUG. The coordinator may form a small planning group to assist with preparation of the proposal, the workshop content, and the workshop itself.


To decide on the best location, the workshop coordinator consults with the CM to determine options for meeting space at the hotel and the potential costs associated with the room size, setup, A/V equipment orders, catering, and internet access if needed. If the hotel is not the best option, the workshop coordinator contacts music librarians in the conference area to determine what meeting spaces might be available at their libraries, the associated costs of obtaining that space, transportation issues, room size, setup, catering, etc.

Outline of program

The outline of the program and potential speakers should contain sufficient information so that the MLA Board may make an informed decision about approving the proposal.

Proposed budget and number of registrants

The speaker honoraria, room setup, catering, workshop handouts, and supplies all contribute to the cost of the workshop. Keep in mind that hotel Internet and catering costs are quite high; carefully consider what the workshop requires. Any on-site assistance provided by the Business Office will be billed separately and must be incorporated into the registration fee.

Taking into consideration the available space and all of the associated costs, the workshop coordinator identifies the minimum and maximum number of registrants and the costs associated with a range of attendees. The coordinator develops a detailed budget that breaks down the known and estimated costs, including the cost per attendee for at least the minimum and maximum number of registrants. The recommended registration cost must meet the “break-even” requirement at each attendance level.

IV.B Submitting a Workshop Proposal

Workshop proposals are subject to the same deadlines for budget input and hotel arrangements as the Program Committee. The conditions surrounding the financial expectations of a workshop must be determined prior to the CM’s presentation of the Convention Budget at the spring meeting of the Board to avoid putting either the workshop or convention budgets in a position of too much risk.

IV.C After the Workshop is Approved

The workshop coordinator confirms meeting space availability and setup, speakers, and other details.

If the workshop will be at the hotel, the CM facilitates the event by including it as part of the annual meeting’s requirements for room size and set up, A/V equipment orders, catering, and Internet access (if needed). The CM arranges for meeting space, equipment, and catering in accordance with the workshop’s specifications. After receiving the hotel invoice, the CM reports the cost of these services to the MLA Administrative Officer, who authorizes the Business Office to post the expenses under the appropriate budget categories.

If the workshop is not at the hotel, the workshop coordinator gathers all of the invoice information and works directly with the Administrative Officer to insure that payment and bookkeeping requirements are met.

Because the workshop registration materials and schedule are included in MLA’s online registration, it is vital for organizers to stay in touch with the Administrative Officer, CMs, and Business Office regarding deadlines and procedures during the planning process. Key dates are included in the Convention Calendar.


Based on the original proposal, the workshop coordinator develops a description of the workshop content, costs, and registration deadline for distribution on MLA-L, in the online conference registration information, and for inclusion on the conference website. If the workshop is to be advertised outside MLA, appropriate publicity must be prepared and distributed. Coordinate publicity with MLA’s Publicity and Outreach Officer.

Online Registration

The workshop coordinator works with the Business Office to incorporate the workshop into the online registration form for the Annual Meeting. The Business Office will provide regular updates about number of registrants to the workshop coordinator, including when the workshop reaches capacity.

As needed, the workshop coordinator can work with the Business Office to develop a waiting list.

IV.D The Workshop itself

The Education Committee and the workshop coordinator are responsible for preparing packets for the attendees, which may include handouts, a certificate of completion, and an evaluation form. The Annual Meeting nametags serve for the workshop; additional nametags only need to be generated for individuals who are not attending the Annual Meeting.

The organizers also handle the registration desk and process onsite workshop registrations if available. The workshop coordinator should also work with the CM to determine the location and hours of the workshop registration desk. They also provide local assistance during the hours of the event; it might be possible to enlist the assistance of the CVB, but that may vary by city.

Some of the arrangements may be contracted with the Business Office; the Education Committee Chair and the workshop coordinator(s) should work through the Administrative Officer if this is desirable. The cost of Business Office services must be built into the workshop budget.

IV.E After the Workshop

The workshop coordinator prepares a report for the MLA Board that includes a summary of attendance, evaluation results and considerations for future workshops.

V. Music OCLC Users Group (MOUG)

MOUG usually holds its annual conference at the same time of year as MLA’s annual meeting. MOUG sessions are typically scheduled for all day Tuesday and in the morning Wednesday (until 12 noon). MOUG is responsible for planning its program, obtaining speakers, and establishing its budget for the meeting. Although MLA has no official financial responsibility for MOUG’s events, the CM includes MOUG’s hotel requirements in MLA’s mega contract. The CM arranges for meeting space, equipment, and catering in accordance with MOUG’s specifications. After receiving the hotel invoice the cost of these services is reported to the MLA Administrative Officer and the MLA Business Office, who invoices MOUG for payment to MLA. In recognition of the additional demand placed on the CM’s time, MOUG pays a subvention to MLA (currently $1,000) to help offset the service provided by MLA. MOUG should consult the MLA Business Office regarding any functions performed by the MLA Business Office for MOUG’s annual meeting, MLA’s contracted services with A-R Editions do not include such ancillary services.

The CM is responsible for forwarding to MOUG’s liaison (usually the Continuing Education Coordinator) information regarding the cost of A/V equipment, catering, and meeting room availability. MOUG provides the CM with a schedule of events, set up preferences, equipment specifications, and catering requirements. Communication regarding these matters is similar to that of MLA’s Program Committee, and it generally adheres to the same deadlines for budget input and hotel arrangements. Because MOUG includes its registration form and schedule in MLA’s conference materials, final information details must be forwarded to the MLA Business Office by October 1 or the date established by the AO and the Business Office. Should MOUG decide not to take advantage of MLA’s online registration, the MOUG liaison should convey that information to the MLA President and AO well in advance of the meeting.

The CM informs the MOUG liaison as plans develop for future MLA annual meetings so that MOUG may consider these venues for its own functions. If ever MOUG were to decide not to meet in conjunction with MLA, the MOUG liaison should notify the CM at least one year in advance to avoid incurring penalties to MLA from having to cancel already agreed upon hotel commitments and to accommodate registration programming by the MLA Business Office.

VI. Appendices

VI.A Assistant Convention Manager/Convention Manager Job Descriptions

Description & Details

The Convention Manager (CM) and Assistant Convention Manager (ACM) are authorized by the President and the Board to coordinate and oversee the planning and implementation of annual conventions of the association.

Duration of Appointment

Typically a four-year commitment; a newly appointed Assistant Convention Manager spends two years in the Assistant position, followed by two years as Convention Manager. Initial appointment is one year, with reappointment possible up to a total of four years.

Position Description

The ACM accompanies the CM on-site inspection/hotel negotiation trips and manages all facets of exhibits, signage, and advertising for the convention. The CM oversees all other convention details and is responsible for onsite management of annual conventions. The CM serves as liaison to the Program Committee chair, the publicity officer, the chair of the Education Committee (or other committee as appropriate, if a pre-conference workshop is being planned), the Administrative Officer, the Board, the MLA Business Office, and other affiliated groups planning events in conjunction with MLA’s annual conference. The CM also works closely with the Development Officer on fundraising for the meeting. The CM, in consultation with Helms- Briscoe, negotiates with hotels for future conventions to secure accommodations for meeting and sleeping rooms. The ACM, in consultation with the CM and MLA Business Office, is responsible for all solicitations and arrangements concerning exhibitors whose publications, products, and services are displayed at conventions. Both the CM and ACM positions demand heavy involvement during the three to four months prior to the annual convention, from early fall when exhibitors/advertisers are solicited to the final preparation for the exhibits at the annual meeting, and also in the spring when the Convention Budget is prepared. The CM and ACM work closely with the MLA Business Office on all aspects of registration, the program book, and also mobile app development. The CM and ACM also work closely with the MLA website editor and Business Office on the content and functionality of the conference website.

Specific Duties, Assistant Convention Manager

Solicitation of exhibitors and program advertisers for the annual convention, maintaining a master list of exhibitors/advertisers, managing the ads for the conference program, working with the Development Officer on vendor fund-raising, consulting with the Advertising Manager on soliciting advertising for the program booklet/online program application, and overseeing all aspects of exhibits for the convention. This includes communications/negotiations with exhibition services/drayage firms, security firms, and internet/electrical services, and on-site management of the exhibit area during the convention. The ACM works closely with the CM, consulting whenever necessary to become familiar with the duties and responsibilities of the position.

Specific Duties, Convention Manager

Site inspection, reporting findings/recommendations to the Board, hotel contract negotiations, communications with the hotel’s sales and event staff, coordination of the work of the Program Committee assigning meeting rooms, communications with the hotel’s catering/banquet service, the A-V service and other services as necessary. The CM arranges for insurance coverage for the meeting. The CM prepares the convention budget in the spring, working with the Program Committee, and, at the discretion of the President, may be invited to participate in meetings of the Board, either in person or virtually. Working with the Program Chair, the CM is responsible for the content of the convention program booklet and its digital version. The CM has final responsibility for on-site management of all facets of the convention, reports to the membership at the annual convention on recent, current, and future annual conventions, and confirms and submits all bills to the MLA Administrative Officer. In addition, the CM is responsible for maintaining, revising and updating, and distributing MLA’s Convention Manual, as well as the convention calendar.


Five years’ experience as a music librarian; membership in the Music Library Association, with good understanding of its organizational and annual convention structure; administrative experience with good organizational and management skills; ability to set and meet deadlines; budgeting experience; effective communication skills in person, on the phone and in writing; availability for business trips of 2–3 days duration 3–5 times per year; availability to attend all annual conventions for a full week; good computer skills including word processing software, spreadsheet management, and telecommunications applications, along with access to a high quality printer, internet, fax machine, and electronic mail. Knowledge of applications such as Guidebook desirable.


The CM and ACM receive support for most expenses required to carry out the responsibilities of the position (travel, telephone, postage, etc.), as well as gratis regular membership and early member conference registrations for the duration of their appointments. In addition, the CM receives an honorarium; the Board of Directors determines honoraria annually

VI.B Annual Meeting Specifications

[Insert Year]


February or Early March [Insert Year] (Mid- to late February preferred)

Group Profile

The Music Library Association (MLA) is the professional organization in the U.S. devoted to music librarianship and to all aspects of music materials in libraries. Founded in 1931, MLA provides a forum for study and action on issues that affect music libraries and their users. MLA and its members make significant contributions to librarianship, publishing, standards and scholarship, and the development of new information technologies. In the forefront of contemporary librarianship, MLA assures that users of music materials will be well served by their libraries.

General Schedule

Monday                     Board of Directors Finance Committee and Planning Group meetings [not in every year]

Tuesday                     Board of Directors; Preliminary events begin afternoon

Wednesday               Board of Directors; Pre-Conference workshop(s) Exhibits setup (day)
                                    and opening reception (evening)

Thursday – Saturday Main conference events, ending with banquet or reception (evening) Sunday                                    Primary departure day

Event Space Requirements

  • Prefer space booked for event is compact—not spread out
  • Large plenary room with capacity to seat 500 (Thursday – Saturday)
  • Exhibit space – 7500 ft for tabletop exhibits (Wednesday – Saturday early afternoon)
  • Breakout rooms: 4-6 simultaneous breakout rooms, in additional to the plenary space
  • Tuesday-Wednesday: 3-6 simultaneous rooms (6 to 125 people)
  • Thursday- Saturday: 4-6 simultaneous breakout rooms
  • 2 small (capacity 8)
  • 1-2 large (capacity 125-150)
  • Remainder (capacity 50-60)

Food and Beverage Requirements

Banquet or other closing event Saturday evening for 400-500 people (can be in the exhibit area which will be vacated by 3 p.m.)

Coffee breaks in exhibits area, probably with snacks (Thursday and Friday mornings and afternoons, and Saturday morning)

Opening reception for 500+ in exhibit area Wednesday night

Three to five breakfasts for 10-18 [has not happened since 2013] and two to four receptions for 30 to 100.

Guest Rooms

Room block (have always met at least 85%, and we do not have no-shows except for emergencies). The following is the *usual* and is not to be taken as gospel:











The Convention Planning Advisor and the CM will have the historical data regarding room night performance and breakdown (double occupancy vs. single). Typically, MLA needs more double occupancy rooms than single.

21st Century Meeting History and Future Contracted Venues

2023Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark
2022Hilton Salt Lake City Center
2021Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza
2020Hilton Norfolk The Main
2019Union Station Hilton, St. Louis
2018Hilton Portland
2017Rosen Plaza, Orlando
2016Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza
2015Westin Downtown, Denver
2014Grand Hyatt Buckhead, Atlanta
2013Fairmont Hotel, San Jose
2012Fairmont Hotel, Dallas
2011Loews, Philadelphia
2010Paradise Point, San Diego
2009Marriott Downtown, Chicago
2008Hyatt Regency and Marriott, Newport
2007Hilton, Pittsburgh
2006The Peabody Hotel, Memphis
2005Fairmont Hotel, Vancouver
2004Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel, Crystal City
2003Renaissance Austin Hotel, Austin
2002Riviera Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas
2001Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York
2000Hyatt Regency Hotel, Louisville

Contact information

Wendy Sistrunk

Convention Manager

UMKC Miller Nichols Library
5100 Rockhill Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499

Phone: 816-235-5291

Andrew Justice

Assistant Convention Manager

University of Southern California, Music Library
University Park Campus, DML G-18
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Phone: 213-740-2926