Make the Case to Attend

Modified and used with permission from ALA and the 2015 SSL Conference Committee

Show how you’ll be more valuable to your institution.

Making the case for time off and support for 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 in times of tight budgets and reduced staff. Use the information that follows to help make your case.


  • Familiarize yourself with the points in “Why you’ll be more valuable to your library after the conference.” (posted below)
  • Get the costs together, showing how much you can save if you register and book travel and housing early, carpool and share a room. Show that you are being cost-conscious!
  • Study any preliminary information about the program that is available, identifying sessions, events, and programs that could help you do your job better.
  • Share any preliminary program information with your colleagues. Talk to your colleagues who are unlikely to attend about how your attendance could benefit them, what kind of information you could bring back to help them, and what sessions they’d like you to go to.
  • Share program information with your supervisor and find out what sessions and programs they think would be of greatest benefit to your workplace.
  • Put together a draft plan for how essential tasks will get done while you’re away, including how technology will keep you accessible and in touch as needed.
  • Develop a draft plan for after your return—describe how you’ll share the list of discussion and action items you develop during the conference, how you’ll share notes from sessions, discussion groups, vendors, and useful informal conversations, and the date by which you’ll provide a written report for your supervisor. Promise that you’ll focus on implementing one new idea that pays back many times the investment of time and money while improving your library’s programs and services.

Why you’ll be more valuable to your library after the conference—or why they can’t afford for you to stay home!

  • You’ll help make your library more effective, save money, and serve your users better when you implement the innovative ideas, strategies, and techniques you bring back. The conference program is always designed to maximize your time away from your job. With a focus on engagement, dialogue, and innovation around transforming libraries, the content of NYLA/SSL conferences and meetings will help you help your library track trends and keep up with this rapidly changing field. You’ll get ideas and tips from programs, discussion groups, updates, networking events, and speakers.
  • You’ll save your library time and money by reviewing products and services among the vendors in the exhibit hall, developing relationships with your library’s current and potential vendors, seeking cost-effective alternatives, comparison shopping, and finding ways to maximize what you’re getting.
  • You’ll become a more effective library advocate at any level—in your community, your state, or nationally—when you fill your advocacy toolbox with ideas and strategies shared by your colleagues. Attending any of the numerous sessions and discussions related to library advocacy will allow you to meet other concerned and creative librarians for future collaboration.
  • You’ll make your library’s network stronger as you connect with, and learn from, the wide range of attendees. The conferences offer numerous opportunities to meet people and network—in sessions, programs, and discussions, at special events, in the hallways, and in informal social settings.
  • You’ll inject fresh energy, excitement, and professionalism into your work, influencing those around you and helping improve the experience of those who use your library. That excitement comes from all the personal interactions, the fresh ideas, the creativity, the enthusiasm, the commitment, and the expertise you’ll encounter. Not to mention the non-library thought-leaders whose programs will inspire you to think about how their innovations can make a difference in the library world, too. You’ll be more ready to tackle the next project.
  • Your library’s reputation gets stronger when you participate actively in your profession and show that your home institution is committed to professional development, innovation, and improving its services and outreach. So when they need to hire, the best candidates will already know why they want to work there.
  • You’ll be one excited, well-informed professional!

What you’re most looking forward to at the conference…
be specific if possible.

  • Pick an author, keynoter, or other presenter and explain what you expect to gain/learn from this person.
  • Pick a program title from the listing of presentations and mention what you will learn and bring back to your library from that program.
  • Building relationships with vendors: name a company and possibly the rep’s name.