Getting to “Yes” for Annual Course Attendance

By: Jean M. Wenger, Treasurer, International Association of Law Libraries

In conversation or during presentations and lectures, I share with law librarians, lawyers, and law students that the best resource they’ll have in their careers is a human resource – someone skilled at what they do. We learn from one another at the office as we accomplish our work responsibilities and through professional networking and conferences. However, the ability to learn in real-time and interact with expert speakers and other professional colleagues at an in-person conference is an enduring experience that can lead to collaboration, inspiration, and professional enrichment for both the attendee and their institution.             

Each year, the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) offers an Annual Course, a premier, in-person educational and cultural event on a global scale held in a different country. In 2024, the Law Library, University of Oslo Library will host the 42nd IALL Annual Course, From Vikings to Autonomous Ships, from 16 – 20 June 2024. The Annual Course provides a banquet of professional development and learning opportunities for those interested in substantive foreign law, international law, and international law librarianship. Held as a single track of educational programs, attendees hear from legal specialists, practitioners, and scholars who discuss the law of the host country and how international law is practiced and understood by legal experts. This structure means all delegates spend time learning and connecting with other legal information professionals as a cohort. In addition to the Course, a separate pre-conference workshop is held on Sunday, and an optional day excursion is held on Thursday and includes an educational lecture.

The IALL Annual Course attendees include directors and information professionals from academic law libraries, firms, governments, and international organizations worldwide. The Annual Course offers discourse and conversation about legal information access and the latest technologies with knowledgeable and experienced law librarians from many different countries, enabling attendees to learn from a singularly skilled cohort.

Each Course offers an exhibit hall with supportive sponsors hosting vendor booths where attendees can ask questions and learn about new information products. The Local Planning Committee (LPC) includes visits to notable cultural and legal institutions as part of the program, and the Course concludes with a closing banquet. The experience of an IALL Annual Course affords delegates and their institution a unique opportunity to raise their library profile by meeting and connecting with professional colleagues from many different countries, cultures, and legal systems.

Meal costs are kept low as the Annual Course registration includes lunches, coffee breaks, and the closing banquet. In addition to networking opportunities, several of the social events provide light fare and appetizers.

For all its benefits, the challenge for many of us is getting permission and funding to attend the IALL Annual Course. A prospective attendee should plan and prepare to increase the chances of a successful request.

The following tips for your request may enhance receiving an affirmative response.

  • Familiarize yourself with the agenda and events of the Annual Course.
  • Place your request in writing and provide the location, date, and brief course description. 
  • Prepare a budget noting such expenses as airfare, registration, accommodation, and ground transportation. The Local Planning Committee (LPC) provides hotel options with special discounted rates.
  • Include the titles of selected presentations and how you envision what you learn enhances your knowledge base at work.
  • Note that you will have opportunities to discuss information products and databases with the vendors onsite.
  • Highlight the unique networking opportunities available. Meeting with fellow attendees is a valuable opportunity to learn about the information resources and teaching or training strategies at other institutions.
  • Remember to mention that you look forward to sharing what you learn with your home institution and local law library community. 

If you can submit your request early, consider taking advantage of early-bird registration or applying for a members, non-members, or local bursary to assist with the costs of attendance.

Attending the IALL Annual Course is an investment in your development as a law librarian. It can provide you and your institution with an ROI (return on investment) with long-term benefits.

I look forward to seeing you at the 42nd Annual Course in Oslo, Norway, or a future IALL Course.

This Blog contains entries by members of the International Association of Law Libraries on issues germane to the Association’s areas of focus. Views expressed in an individual entry only represent the views of the author, and not those of the International Association of Law Libraries or the author’s employer.