For weeks you worked via email and phone conversations to develop the best conference session proposal you could. You successfully got it submitted just before the deadline. And then, you wait. But what are you waiting for? What exactly happens to your session proposal after it is submitted?
Well as much as AASLH would like to have the ability to accept everyone’s proposal, it simply isn’t feasible to fit everything in one Annual Program. So they develop a committee of folks like myself to read through the proposals. That’s right, your own museum peers are called in like a team of Avengers to save the day. Okay, so it isn’t that elaborate, but it is a diverse team of people you probably know. We each have different talents. Some of us are administrators; others are educators. Some come from large institutions; others come from small ones. Together we make up a team reflective of those we serve.
The task is not one we take simply. We each spend hours reading through the over 140 session proposals. Then, on one weekend in January, we gather together to tackle the stack together. The weapons of choice for our fight are: theme, relevance, presenters, content, and approach. Building an Annual Program means ensuring we find a mix of sessions that offer a little something for everyone. We look for sessions that are supportive of the year’s theme. Ones that seem to have a sizeable amount of content to share with attendees and delivered in a unique approach. Additionally, we try to select a range of sessions from different presenters. It is wonderful to see well seasoned leaders presenting from year to year but we also want to hear from new people to the field.
Then, in come the over-sized pads of paper and markers. We discuss. We reflect. We vote. It is tough putting some on hold until a future year. Some sessions rise to the top of the list due to how relevant the topic is to the latest news. Some sessions require a little tweaking. Maybe it is an additional presenter to help round out the different views shared. Maybe it is clarifying the description so conference attendees know exactly what you are trying to share. Once done, we aim for a full program that inspires and fulfills all attendees.
After reading through the sessions and making our selections for this year, it is clear that many of you are excited about what you are doing. You have achieved wonderful things and seek to share your insights with others. We look forward to seeing all of you, presenters and attendees, in Louisville this coming September.
Tanya Brock is the Carillon Brewery Manager at Dayton History in Dayton, OH, and a member of the 2015 AASLH Program Committee.