Early Bird registration for AASLH’s annual meeting in Louisville, KY, comes to an end tomorrow, July 24. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to sign up, or to send some of your staff, let me share three things that keep me coming back almost every year:
- The diversity and quality of workshops and sessions! Every single session and workshop proposal was reviewed by a committee of your peers who are actively talking the talk, and walking the walk. Program committe members came from institutions great and small, from all over the nation, and from a variety of departments (collections, education, administration, etc.). These people debated, made deals, and strengthened sessions that they knew would resonate with you. They were also encouraged to turn down sessions that didn’t quite cut the muster, and suggest last-minute additions if they saw any serious gaps. This program did not just come together. It was thoughtfully crafted and I love seeing how things change every year.
- The value! Early bird registration for AASLH members is $250. I have yet to find a professional meeting that I find more useful and reasonably priced for people working in the field of history. Days one and four provide attendees with opportunities for focused professional development (such as the CEO Forum and workshops focusing on things like the care of photographs, management, interpretation, safety, and technology). Days two and three are filled to the brim with sessions, which are the heart and soul of the meeting. On top of that, each day a variety of tours and/or events enable people to explore the host city at a reasonable cost. I also believe that the payback for institutions that send their staff to the annual meeting is something to be considered. The meeting inspires and motivates staff, and it exposes people to new tools, programs, and methods.
- The people! I attended my first AASLH annual meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, in 2003, just as I was taking on a position of greater leadership within my institution. I remember being impressed by the people I met and how I saw people interacting with one another. Attendees were engaged and excited, they were welcoming, they wanted to help you make connections—and they still do! I was so motivated by the experience that I started looking into more of what AASLH had to offer me and my institution. In 2004, I attended the Seminar for Historical Administration (now known as Developing History Leaders @SHA); in 2006, our organization participated in the Performance Management program (now known as Visitors Count!); and by 2007, I started volunteering on a committee. Now, a great plus of attending the annual meeting is reconnecting with colleagues I have known for over a decade, and meeting new ones. People drive our organizations, and you won’t find a greater bunch to get to know than those who are fellow members of AASLH!
Alexandra Rasic is Director of Public Programs at the Workman and Temple Homestead Museum in City of Industry, CA, and serves on the 2015 AASLH Program Committee.