Making Your Case to Attend

How can you be considered more valuable to your institution after attending an ALA conference?

Making the case for time off, support, and travel and expenses to attend a conference requires a solid understanding of the potential benefits to your institution, supervisor, and colleagues. And you need to be able to communicate those benefits clearly—especially if your company is experiencing tight budgets and/or reduced staff. Use the following information to help "make your case".


  • Familiarize yourself with the points in “Why you'll be more valuable to your library after the conference,” and read the quotes from your colleagues.

  • Tally your potential costs, demonstrating how much you can save if you register and book travel and housing early. Thissample budget worksheetmight be helpful.
  • Study any preliminary information about the program. Identify sessions, events, and programs that you believe can help you be more productive and efficient.
  • Share any preliminary program information with your colleagues. Let those who might not be able to attend know that your attending can benefit them. Inform them of the type of information that you can bring back to help them, and which sessions you can attend on their behalf.
  • Share program information with your supervisor. List the sessions and programs that you think will be of greatest benefit to your workplace.
  • Review the topic-specific preconferences and institutes. Are any especially applicable to you and your workplace?
  • Draft a plan listing how essential tasks will be handled while you're away. Include how, if necessary, technology can easily keep you accessible.
  • Draft a plan noting that when you return to the office, you’ll share action items and fresh ideas learned at the conference  (e.g., notes from speaker presentations and discussion groups, knowledgeable vendors you spoke with, best practices, contacts you made through networking, etc.) with the rest of the staff.
  • Inform your supervisor that you can focus on implementing one new idea that will pay back many times over the investment of time and money spent to attend.
  • Put your request in writing. Feel free to use this sample memo and sample budget worksheet. If you need more ideas about funding, check out the helpful tips and links listed in this YALSA blog post.