HOWTO:Get conference funding

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Understand your options when paying to attend library conferences.

[edit] Grants and Scholarships

Many conferences or associations have awards for conference attendance. In other cases, you may be able to write your own grant to a benefactor. Student rates, first-time and volunteer/presenter discounts may also be available.

[edit] Understand Employer Funding Models

Defining employer-assisted conference funding is an important part of the job negotiation process; you should get a clear picture of what conference funding is available during salary negotiations with a prospective employer.

Libraries have different methods of paying for employee conference attendance. Funding models may be combination of the following:

  • Flat rate. Each employee, or a department or other group, has a maximum amount to be spent, either per conference or per year. Having the flexibility of a departmental funding pool or an annual allotment can be beneficial.
  • Percentage based. Employees have a percentage of their expenses covered. Percentages can be higher depending on the attendees' relationship with the conference.

There may also be a separate per diem or percentage covered for meals, hotels, transportation, etc.. There are legal requirements for employers covering such things as mandatory training costs and personal vehicle mileage. Make sure you understand what's covered and what's not beforehand; get a clear picture of the bottom line, preferably in writing, before you register or plan your trip.

Many conferences offer a reduced early bird registration rate, so plan ahead with your requests for attendance. If for nothing else, you should document a request for time off or to express interest in attending a conference even if no or little funding may be available.

Keep your receipts for any expenses that you plan on being reimbursed for. Since many institutions may be slow in processing expense reports, requesting employer-payment of registration fees can be useful.

[edit] Paying Your Own Way

Invariably you'll find that the avenues above don't always fully foot the bill. Many librarians refuse on principle to spend any of their own money to improve their job performance for their employer's benefit. Although such a refusal should never reflect negatively on your job evaluation, this is sometimes a consideration.

Moreover, the bottom line is that conference attendance has many other intangible benefits, including personal growth, relaxation and enjoyment, networking, and gaining knowledge that will make you attractive to other employers. Keep these in mind when deciding, within the range of what is financially feasible, whether to pay your own way.

See also: HOWTO:Attend a conference

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