Making Your Case to Attend

Making the case to attend a conference requires a solid understanding of the potential benefits to your library, your supervisor, and your colleagues. It’s essential to demonstrate the value your attendance will bring despite the time spent away from work, additional staff support needed in your absence, travel costs, and other expenses You need to be able to communicate those benefits clearly—especially if your organization is experiencing tight budgets and/or reduced staff. Use the following information to help make your case.

About the Conference

Offered biennially, the PLA Conference is the premier event for public libraries, drawing thousands of librarians, library support staff, trustees, friends, and library vendors from across the country and around the world. The PLA Conference is presented by the Public Library Association (PLA), the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals.

The 2020 Conference will be held February 25–29 in downtown Nashville, TN, with most events taking place at the Music City Center. The PLA 2020 Conference will be packed with extraordinary educational content, inspirational speakers, and memorable entertainment. There will be distinctive networking events, opportunities to mingle with authors, a bustling exhibit hall, and more than 100 educational programs carefully curated for public library professionals. Registration opens September 18, 2019.

For the greatest possible savings, please consider joining the Public Library Association prior to registering for the PLA 2020 Conference. Membership includes access to a vast network of public library professionals, a free subscription to Public Libraries magazine, and ongoing professional development opportunities.

Your Registration Fee includes

  • Entry to the Opening and Closing General Sessions

  • Entry to the Big Ideas sessions offered each morning

  • Access to more than 120 educational programs curated for, and by, public library professionals just like you

  • Access to the Exhibits Hall Wednesday, February 26 through Friday, February 28

  • Food and drinks at the Exhibits Opening Reception on Wednesday, February 26, Exhibits Closing Reception on Friday, February 28, and All-Conference Reception on Friday, February 28

For prospective attendees: Why attending PLA 2020 will make you more valuable to your library

  1. You’ll help make your library more effective and serve your community better when you implement the innovative ideas, strategies, and techniques you bring back. The PLA Conference is designed to maximize your time away from your job. With a focus on the innovative work and ideas that address the core challenges facing public libraries and their communities, the educational content will help you track library trends and keep up with the field. You’ll get ideas and tips from more than 100 programs, plus opportunities throughout each day to network, discuss, and learn from your peers.

  2. You’ll save your library time and money by reviewing products and services among nearly 300 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.

  3. You’ll become a more effective library advocate by gaining ideas and strategies from the experts.

  4. You’ll make your library’s network stronger as you connect with, and learn from, the wide range of attendees from public libraries across the U.S. The PLA Conference offers numerous opportunities to meet people and network—in sessions, programs, and discussions, at special events, in the hallways, and in informal social settings.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

Put your request in writing. Feel free to use this sample email to your supervisor to help make your case to attend.

For supervisors: 5 reasons you should send your most creative-thinking and dedicated employees to the PLA 2020 Conference

  1. Education: PLA 2020 will feature hundreds of peer-driven topics, in formal and informal settings, available for discussion, interactive learning, and information-sharing. With expert-led seminars, panels, group program offerings, and more—your staff’s professional development needs are met as they move through a world of ideas that can be applied immediately upon return.

  2. Resources: Make personal connections with knowledgeable exhibitors who represent nearly 300 companies and organizations. This provides the most effective engagement with new and current products, services, technologies, and titles, and helps your staff make the best choices, improve implementation, increase usage and circulation, and maximize your investment.

  3. Connections: Attendees will receive unparalleled opportunities to connect with committed and imaginative colleagues and peers. Equip your staff with an ongoing source of collaborators, ideas, and successful innovation.

  4. Inspiration: Dozens of memorable speakers, including thought-leaders and bestselling authors from a wide range of disciplines, entertain while motivating attendees to be bold and to innovate. Your staff will recognize many opportunities to take home ideas that will transform their libraries and themselves.

  5. The Bottom Line: You’ll find that PLA 2020 registration is a bargain when compared with other professional conferences. The hundreds of relevant opportunities that offer shareable knowledge, exposure to experts, and access to thousands of motivated colleagues all add up to quality professional development that will reinvigorate your staff and improve the day-to-day operations of your organization.

What attendees said about the PLA 2018 Conference

“As a public librarian/director, I believe that PLA offers better learning and professional and organizational growth opportunities for public librarians than any other source. Everything I learn from PLA conferences, webinars, and publications is relevant and beneficial to me and worth every penny my library pays for my membership and participation.”

“I look forward to the PLA Conferences because they reinvigorate my passion for my community and public libraries. We can, and will, change the world for the better!”

“I really look forward to attending the PLA Conference. I am always so impressed by how relevant and forward-thinking the sessions are.”

“Since attending my first PLA conference in Philadelphia back in 2012, this has been my absolute favorite conference to attend. I always come back recharged, full of ideas and excitement about what I've learned. I also appreciate the fact that the speakers, programs, and presentations usually address the major issues that public libraries are dealing with at the time of the conference.”