Karen Weaver muses and asks: 
but I thought *many* of the preconferences this
summer were overly expensive...   do they need to be so costly to register
for preconferences in addition to general registration, travel etc to ALA
this year when most of us are cutting back, and travel budgets at most
libraries esp are wiped out -?

I respond: 
Yes, they do.   It costs a tremendous amount to put on preconferences (and
conferences) -- even when the speakers get no support (and ALA doesn't
provide support to speakers who are ALA members).  If electronic equipment
of any sort is provided, it costs the world and all to rent/supply.  The
profit margin for programs, and preconferences is often slim to nonexistent
-- and that's a shame, since associations need to make some money to support
staff and programs. And they are experiencing the same fiscal problems that
their members are. 

If speakers actually expected to be paid for their work and contribution, it
would be even more.

Library folks tend to have unrealistic expectations when it comes to things
like dues and registration fees.  We are so used to paying people less than
they are worth, and having them volunteer their time, effort, and intellect,
and to thinking that what we and our associations do is a "public good" that
we often fail to realize just what a bargain we are getting.

Yes, we are in tough economic times.  But having our associations going into
debt to put on preconferences really isn't a solution.

(former ALA Executive Board Member and member of the Finance and Audit
Committee; former ALCTS president)

Janet Swan Hill, Professor
Associate Director for Technical Services
University of Colorado Libraries, CB184
Boulder, CO 80309
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Tradition is the handing-on of Fire, and not the worship of Ashes.
- Gustav Mahler