in General, Libraries/Info Sci

ALA and the Charging Speakers Fiasco

There’s been much said lately about the fact that ALA requires members to pay registration for a conference they are speaking at, yet does not charge non-members.

Here’s a sampling: Michael, Jenny, Steven. There’s also many more well-reasoned pieces that I’ve read.

I’m a bit late to the party, but I agree with what the majority are saying – this is ridiculous! Isn’t the whole point of holding a conference to attract attendees? How do you attract them without speakers? I always assumed that getting your speakers in for free was just standard practice and part of the overhead involved in setting up an event.

Do you think the President gets charged ticket price to throw out the first pitch? Or that the Live 8 bands had to pay admission? These are grand examples, sure. But the principle is the same.

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  1. I would imagine that one of the perks of being a speaker at a big conference would be free or greatly discounted stuff (especially registration, or even a giant calculator). I didn’t realize that you had to “pay to play.” Maybe the ALA figures that all the speakers have such a status (especially salary-wise, wherever they may work) that they would be more than able to pay, and that their higher-profile members would certainly be more than willing to contribute financially to the organization.

    When I think about this, I kind of relate it to those huge discounts you might often see on big-ticket items. When you’re able to afford such items, you’re often able to get better discounts because you would likely buy the item anyway at full price. Relatively speaking, one can get a better discount on a BMW 745Li than on a Honda Civic DX. In fact, the discount might be there to encourage you to buy more stuff. Or, think about a celebrity or pro athlete having dinner at an expensive restaurant. Sure, they could probably afford to buy a bunch of people dinner, but they often get stuff free just because of who they are.

    I guess that ALA doesn’t make its non-member speakers pay registration at its conferences because they hope that these speakers will want to become members. Then again, ALA might expect most of its members to at least want to attend the national conferences. And then there’s the standard procedure argument brought up elsewhere…