17 & 18 October 2017 · Olympia London

How ILI's programme is developed

27 June 2017

Tales of the unexpected - how this conference programme was developed
With the ILI programme about to be announced, Programme Director Val Skelton describes the development process

The ILI conference programme is the product of a collaborative process. Conference chairs, a conference advisory board, past delegates and speakers, and many informal conversations throughout the year all guide us in choosing a key theme for the conference. We use this to frame our first call for proposals to speak. This year we asked our potential speakers to celebrate the Super-Powered Library.

Now, you might well set a theme for a conference and even ask for specific topics but the wonderful library community sets its own agendas and what comes in from the submissions process is never quite what you expect! That’s why crafting the conference programme and developing the key track themes is so enjoyable – and challenging.

Firstly, all proposals enter a refereeing process. The conference team of Chairs and the advisory panel read all the proposals carefully. A very few proposals are not suitable for our conference or our audience and may be quickly put to one side. The major challenge for us is the overwhelmingly high quality of the proposals received – always far too many for the spaces to fill. These proposals go onto the next stage.

At ILI we have six conference ‘tracks’ – three for each day. We review the proposals again and begin to identify possible themes for these six tracks. Then we begin to think about how some presentations will ‘fit’ with others to make a perfect session. And we work to see if tracks have a ‘narrative’ and just generally make sense. As an international conference that attracts delegates from all library sectors, we like to balance our sessions to ensure we have a great mix of countries and organisations represented.

Every year we also offer an extra track which we like to think of as our ‘fringe festival’! It’s here that we can run events that might not fit into a formal structure of the conference, or which cover topics that might not fit into the main programme. This year, we are pleased to announce ILI Extra!

Then there are suitable keynote speakers and topics to identify – who would our delegates really love to hear from? The right keynote is critical because these presentations can set the whole tone for a conference. What are the hot topics and who are the best speakers?

And that is just the start of the ongoing programming process. Ideally, you hope to create a conference programme that offers such a great programme that delegates face a difficult choice between which sessions they attend!

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