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1.0 Convention Manager/Assistant Convention Manager


The MLA Convention Manager (CM) and the Assistant Convention Manager (ACM) are responsible for the arrangements for the annual meeting of the organization.  They are authorized by the President and the Board to coordinate and oversee the planning of the meeting, in consultation with the Chairs of the Program Committee and the Local Arrangements Committee. They also oversee the technical and onsite management of the meeting.  They are Special Officers of the organization and are appointed by the President.  Appointments are made for one year, with reappointment possible up to a total of four years.  In 2002 the Board approved a change in the rotation of duties for these two special officers.  Normally, the first two years are spent as Assistant Convention Manager; the third and fourth years are spent as the Convention Manager.    The Convention Manager/Assistant Convention Manger receives support for expenses required to carry out the responsibilities of the position (travel, telephone, postage, etc.) and honoraria.

The Assistant Convention Manager must work closely with the Convention Manager, so that s/he becomes familiar with duties and responsibilities of the position before taking over.  The Assistant Convention Manager may accompany the Convention Manager on site selection/hotel negotiation trips and manages all facets of exhibits and advertising for the convention.  During the Convention Manager’s final year it is especially important to anticipate the Assistant Convention Manger’s transition into the broader role of Convention Manager a year hence by allowing the Assistant to follow closely the activities of the Manager during that year in order to facilitate a smooth transfer of office.




See Appendix 6.1 for a position description.  The primary responsibilities of the Convention Manager/Assistant Convention Manager are the following:


Working with MLA’s current HelmsBriscoe representative, visiting, selecting, and finalizing contracts with hotels

Assigning meeting spaces

Overseeing accommodations

Selecting menus for receptions and other official meetings

Managing exhibits and selling exhibit services

Selling and coordinating Program advertising

Arranging for audio/visual equipment required for sessions

Preparing the Convention Budget

Updating the Convention Manual, other documents, and statistics

Signage for the meeting and exhibitors

Liaison between the hotel staff and the Association



A number of different individuals and groups within MLA are involved in planning the annual meetings, and it is important for the Convention Manager to work closely with everyone participating in arrangements for the meetings. 



The Convention Manager serves as liaison among the following:

            Program Committee chair

            Chair(s) of the Local Arrangements Committee (LAC)

            Publicity Officer

            Chair of the Education Committee (if a pre-conference workshop is being planned)

            Administrative Officer [AO] (formerlyTreasurer/Executive Secretary [T/Ex]), the Board, and its Finance Committee

            Development Officer and Committee and Marketing Subcommittee

            The MLA Business Office

The Convention Manager assists the Program Committee and Local Arrangements Chairs in preparing the program proposal and prepares the budget for the national meeting in consultation with the Fiscal Officer, transmitting these to the Board and the Finance Committee respectively (see below). 

The Convention Manager is responsible for assigning all meeting rooms, in consultation with appropriate hotel staff and the Chair of the Program Committee.  Factors to take into consideration include size of the group, type of setup (conference and theater setups are generally the only setups used), and A-V equipment availability.  It is advisable to establish a standard a-v package early in the planning process, so the Program Committee and presenters know what will be available.

The Convention Manager acts as liaison with appropriate hotel staff.  All communications with hotel staff should go through the Convention Manager/Assistant Convention Manager.  The Convention Manager may identify to the hotel staff certain members of the Local Arrangements and Program Committees and Association Officers who may need to be in touch with hotel staff.  The Convention Manager prepares the catering order and approves all banquet event orders with the hotel.  These include events sponsored by others on behalf of MLA and paid by MLA, e.g., the LAC, MOUG, or vendors.


After the Board accepts a convention proposal or proposes a conference locale, the Convention Manager (CM) and Assistant Convention Manager (ACM) work with MLA’s current HelmsBriscoe representative, to determine availability of suitable hotels.  After reviewing initial proposals and consulting with the board, the HelmsBriscoe representative schedules site visits with several hotels.  It is important to remain in contact with local MLA members who will form the nucleus of the Local Arrangements Committee.  Their insights into hotels and specific areas of the city can be invaluable in selecting a conference site.  The visit includes tours of the meeting facilities and general discussions of MLA's needs.  A site visit usually takes place three to four years before the date of the meeting, depending on the difficulty of scheduling hotels in any particular locale.

MLA prefers to hold meetings in the hotel in which members are staying, and the hotel must have suitable meeting, banquet, and exhibit space. 

Meeting Spaces: Current programming requires a mix of small and large meeting rooms, breakout rooms, banquet and reception areas, and an exhibit hall.  For more detail see the Space Requirements in Appendix 6.2.  The rooms should be of various sizes for sessions and committee meetings, and should include one room that is capable of holding all attendees (ca. 500 people) to be used for plenary sessions and the banquet.

Hotel rooms: There is no specific recommendation regarding the division of singles and doubles, although rooms with 2 double beds are more likely to be requested than are single-bed rooms, but MLA generally occupies approximately 220–250 rooms for housing attendees on peak nights (Wed.-Fri.); historically ca.1000 rooms are occupied over the course of the week MLA is in residence.

Exhibit space: In order to house exhibits appropriately, a securable space of 6000–7000 sq. ft. is required.   MLA exhibits are "Table-top" exhibits rather than "Pipe and Drape," although some exhibitors may set up display racks, equipment carrels, etc. in addition to or in place of their tables.  Such additional furniture should not exceed their assigned spaces.  The Convention Managers must approve exceptions to this.

The HelmsBriscoe representative asks the hotel(s) for proposals, including a range of available dates for the year in question; generally MLA prefers to hold its conference between February and mid-March.  The conference should not conflict with ALA’s Midwinter meeting, and it is preferable to avoid meeting over a major religious day such as Ash Wednesday and Passover.   If dates are known, other events that ought to be avoided when scheduling MLA annual meetings are meetings of the Society for American Music (SAM), the American Musicological Society (AMS), and the Major Orchestra Librarians Association (MOLA).   

After the site visits and discussion of choices with the HelmsBriscoe representative and with local MLA members, the CM reports to the Board concerning the hotels visited. The Board discusses the report and makes a recommendation; the CM then directs the HelmsBriscoe representative to finalize negotiations with the selected hotel.  A contract is drawn up and signed by the President on behalf of the Music Library Association.  Before the contract is confirmed, other organizations (e.g. MOUG) that normally meet in conjunction with MLA should be consulted to confirm their plans for that year's meetings.  Frequently the meeting rooms for MOUG, for example, are built into the contract with the hotel.

The Convention Managers make a pre-conference site visit to the hotel eight to twelve weeks before the conference to take care of last minute details, to make sure that all room assignments, menus, facilities and equipment requirements are as planned, to confirm the exhibit details with the contracted exhibit service, and to meet with the Local Arrangements Committee to discuss registration desk and other details. 


The official budget for the convention is due to the Fiscal Officer before the May/June Board Meeting (see the MLA Administrative Calendar for exact date).  It is an amalgam of the budgets of the Program and Local Arrangements Committees with additions from the Convention Manager.  The Convention Managers should begin working with the hotel in late February/Early March to identify preferred A-V providers, exhibition services providers, discuss internet costs, and obtain current catering menus.  The Convention Manager must solicit budgets from the Local Arrangements and Program Committee Chairs early enough to work out the combined budget and submit it to the Fiscal Officer on time.  The MLA budget line structure should be used by the CM.

It is MLA’s policy that the costs of the meeting should be balanced by the income.  Revenue sources include registration fees, sale of exhibition space, advertising in the program, donations from exhibitors, and donations from other interested parties, such as local businesses and institutions and friends of MLA from outside the locale.  These donations may be earmarked for  specific expenses such as the convention folders, the hosting of a reception, the provision of musical or other entertainment.  The Development Officer helps coordinate the work of the Local Arrangements Committee in soliciting donations towards the costs of the convention.  See also “Contributions,” below.

The costs of the convention should show both expenditures and pass-through costs.  For example, if buses are to be used (for tours, etc.) and if individuals are to be charged fees for these, then there will be both income and expenditure for the buses.

The Convention Managers monitor budget performance closely throughout the conference cycle.  The MLA Business Office supplies a copy of QuickBooks and updated data files on a regular basis for the Convention Manager, who works closely with Business Office staff to receive regular ledger updates.


In consultation with the Convention Manager, Program Chair, and Local Arrangements Chair, the MLA Business Office designs the online registration form (and a paper counterpart, which is distributed on demand). Those listed above, plus the Administrative Officer all proofread and test the form before its final version is made available.  This form incorporates fees approved by the Board and includes any necessary information provided by the Local Arrangements Committee.  The MLA Business Office can arrange access to past registration forms for informational purposes.  The cut-off date for early registration should be emphasized.  Note:  The published cut-off date for early registration and hotel reservations should be at least one week before the date the hotel is contracted to guarantee MLA’s room block.  This is necessary to provide a sufficient period of time to adjust the room block, if necessary, in accordance with bookings.  Indicate all dates in words, e.g., December 10, 1997 (not 12-10-97); European members planning to attend may reverse months and days of any dates given in number format. Include MLA’s FEIN on this form, and request that registrants using the printed form not staple checks to the registration form.  It is helpful to include boxes to check if registrant requires ADA-related assistance or is a first-time attendee.  An electronic receipt will be issued after the registration is received; registrants will not receive a paper receipt unless they so request.  Also note which banquet entrée will be chosen by default, if a registrant does not select one.  Credit card payments are accepted (Mastercard, Visa, and American Express), and the MLA Business Office provides current information about handling such payments; a space must be provided on the form for the card number, expiration date, and signature.  Beginning in 2003 a separate registration form for exhibitors was used, and in 2012, exhibitor registration will be moved to an online form. 


The Convention Managers, the Local Arrangements Committee, and others are involved in securing contributions to support the conference; the Development Officer takes a leading role in coordinating all fundraising.  All funds raised, including local contributors, are deposited with the MLA Business Office to ensure appropriate acknowledgements of donations received in accordance with IRS regulations and in the conference program booklet. The MLA Business Office, through the Administrative Officer , reports funds raised to the Convention Manager, who is responsible for keeping track of them for the purpose of balancing the convention budget, and to the Development Officer and Local Arrangements Chair.   Contributors are acknowledged in the conference program and with appropriate signage at breaks, receptions, etc.  The MLA Business Office ensures that contributions are reported to the Administrative Officer and Development Officer in a timely manner, and that the MLA President has a list of contributors in order to officially acknowledge donations in support of the conference. 


The MLA Business Office maintains the official list of potential exhibitors, many of whom carry over from year to year.  The Local Arrangements Committee is responsible for sending to the ACM a list of potential local exhibitors.  These lists are combined to form an exhibitor mailing list (local exhibitors are deleted each year). 


The ACM works with the Business Office to update the online exhibitor registration form, which is activated during the first week of September each year.  In order to update the form the ACM conveys the following information to the Business Office:  table rates, including any discounts and drayage credits for corporate members and patrons; program advertising rates; banquet choices; information about packet inserts.  Deadlines for ad copy and packet inserts, as well as for table registration are established in consultation with the Business Office and the Local Arrangements Committee.  The ACM prepares an information invitation message to exhibitors, which is e-mailed to exhibitors in early September by the Business Office.

The Business Office notifies the ACM when exhibitor registrations are received and paid and the ACM communicates with the exhibitors to let them know their registrations have been received.  The ACM maintains a list of exhibitors and contact information for the exhibition services firm, who will send additional information separately.  Any follow-up with the exhibitors, such as reminders of deadlines or necessary payments, is handled by the ACM, working closely with the Business Office.

The ACM works with hotel staff, corporate sponsors, or third-party service providers, as appropriate, to ensure that the required number of connections will be available to exhibitors desiring them.  Internet services usually are provided by the hotel.  The ACM should monitor the cost of internet service and attempt to negotiate rates, if at all possible.  The ACM does not negotiate on behalf of individual exhibitors, but for exhibitors as a whole.  The ACM should also ask the internet provider/hotel if they are willing to negotiate with individual exhibitors.

To determine the likely fee for exhibitors, the ACM ascertains the costs for the rental of tables (if not provided gratis by the hotel), charges of any required Drayage Service (cartage of exhibit materials to and from the hotel, if the hotel cannot store incoming exhibits), cost of signage and draping for tables or booths.  A very rough formula for a minimum exhibit fee adds the above expenses and the cost of a registration/banquet (which is included), then doubles that total.  The ACM should also monitor exhibit rates of related organizations (ARSC, AMS, SAM) to ensure that MLA’s rates are comparable.  Exhibit fees, including an Internet connectivity charge, are determined by the Board at its spring meeting, based on the recommendation from the Convention Manager.

The goal of the exhibits is to make available to MLA members the goods and services used by music libraries and to further closer ties between dealers, suppliers, and music librarians.  Making money to defray convention expenses for the Association is another goal, and the need to secure contributions to help reduce costs for convention events is still another.  Often the opening reception and coffee breaks have been sponsored, at least in part, by contributions from exhibitors or other corporate sponsors.

The ACM contracts with an exposition services company to handle cartage of exhibits materials to and from the hotel, if the hotel cannot store these materials.  The contracted drayage firm may also supply electrical connections, computer and video display equipment, as well as supply and drape exhibit tables, if the hotel cannot.

The ACM is responsible for arranging for signage for the exhibit hall.  The hotel or the exposition service provider handling the exhibits that year usually prints signs.  Determine which source will be the most economical, efficient and reliable, and arrange for appropriate signs for all exhibit tables.  The exhibition services provide also produces other signage, such as exhibit entrance signs, signs acknowledging contributors, and other signage as requested.

The ACM may need to hire a security guard to safeguard the contents of the exhibits when the exhibit hall is not open to the public, even if the hotel provides house security.  Costs for this service should be included in the exhibits budget.

The ACM must be in close contact with the MLA Business Office regarding exhibitor registrations.  Exhibitors are asked to return an Exhibitor Registration Form to the MLA Business Office to pay for additional attendees (if more than the allowed number per table), order meals and tours, and to have nametags made.  The ACM must keep track of the names of exhibitors attending and the number of tables for each exhibitor, and provide this information to the firm handling conference exposition services.  The MLA Business Office identifies Corporate Patrons and Corporate Members among the exhibitors for proper identification with name badges.  During the exhibitor move-in, the ACM should distribute personally exhibitor packets and ascertain as soon as possible which exhibitors are attending the banquet and the choice of meal.

The ACM also transmits the names and full information for all registered exhibitors to the MLA Business Office for inclusion in the conference program.



The ACM coordinates advertising for the conference program with fees set by the Board.  The inside front and back covers, and the outside back cover are available for advertisements, as well as inside pages.  Advertising forms are included with the early September message to exhibitors.  All advertisers must submit copy as PDF files format directly to the MLA Business Office.  A list of all program advertisers is included in the conference program, unless space is unavailable.



Corporate Patrons receive the following discounts: 25% off the charge for renting the MLA mailing list; 20% off all advertising and exhibit fees; 200 lbs. of drayage/table.  Corporate Members receive 10% off mailing list rentals and all advertising and exhibit fees, as well as 100 lbs. of drayage/table.  (N.b.: always verify discounts annual with the Administrative Officer.) These discounts must be considered when estimating exhibitor and advertiser income for the convention budget.  Corporate Members and Corporate Patrons of MLA should receive preferential locations in the exhibit area at the annual conference, and if possible, a difference appearance to their table(s) to indicate their special status, e.g., a different colored skirting or bunting for their table(s).  Signs for their tables may indicate that they are Corporate Members or Patrons, and their nametags should denote their status.



 The MLA Business Office receives all exhibitor payments.  The ACM receives and verifies invoices for exhibitor tables, related charges (e.g. electrical, telephone, internet connections), drayage and security, and transmits them to the CM for payment.  The CM is responsible for verifying all invoices associated with the conference and transmitting them to the MLA Administrative Officer for payment.  This includes the exhibit-related expenses received from the ACM, and invoices from the hotel, the copy shop, and authorized expenses from program and workshop speakers.




This is an approximate guideline.  The Convention Manager should consult with the Administrative Officer and the current MLA Calendar and make up a convention calendar with dates to distribute to the Assistant Convention Manager, Program Chair, the Local Arrangements Chair, the Education Committee Chair, the MOUG continuing Education Coordinator, and the entire MLA Board.  



3–4 yrs before mtg

Negotiations with possible hotels; contract is signed by MLA Pres.

January 1, ca. 13 months prior to the meeting

Prepare convention calendar.  Work on general budget lines: expected travel, phone, postage, etc.

12 months before mtg

Send copies of hotel’s menus to anyone responsible for planning a food event, especially MOUG and Local Arrangements Committee

12months before mtg

Solicit bids from security firms, drayage firms, and internet providers

12 months before mtg

Confirm mtg space reserved at hotel for program events and inform Program Committee of space available

8 months before mtg

Clarify procedure if hotel is setting up a web page for MLA conference bookings.

mid-June to early July

Send firm information about hotel rates, including taxes, and registration rates as set by the Board to MLA-L; ask the LAC to post them on the conference web site (some members need to submit estimated travel budgets for the entire year)

6 months before mtg

If needed, arrange for a hotel credit application to be submitted by MLA’s Administrative Officer.

4–6 weeks before the May/June Board mtg

Receive budgets from the Program and Local Arrangements committees and from the Workshop planners

8 months before mtg

Finalize details to be included in exhibitor/advertiser mailing and draft forms and letters, including electrical and internet access charges, deadlines for the program, and any other information exhibitors will need about the conference. 

12 months before mtg

Contract with drayage/decorator firm, security firm, internet provider

8 months before mtg

When the Board approves the exhibit fees, finalize the exhibitor mailing and send to potential exhibitors.  Set reservation and advertising deadlines according to the convention calendar.

10-11 months before mtg

Prepare convention budget and submit to Fiscal Officer.  Describe anticipated income and expenditures, honoraria/travel for invited speakers, cost for A-V equipment, internet connectivity, transportation (if required), entertainment, and food (with applicable taxes and gratuities).  Workshop budgets, submitted separately, should be reviewed to ensure coordination of shared expenses.

early September

Send information material and a link to the online registration form to potential exhibitors.  The information should include verification of exhibitor registration, details on shipping, electrical, and internet services and fees, and hotel reservation details, as well as other convention-related items. 

8-12 weeks before mtg

Make a final site visit to the hotel (some hotels will provide the rooms gratis; if not, request rooms at the convention rate), to re-familiarize yourself with the hotel and meet with hotel convention staff to finalize room arrangements, menus, A-V services and other details.  Also meet with the exhibit service to finalize details and provide names of exhibitors from which to prepare signs.  Meet with the Local Arrangements Committee to discuss procedures and answer questions. 

4–6 weeks before mtg

Prepare a floor plan for the exhibit area and transmit a copy to the drayage firm and hotel’s exhibit service.  The hotel or drayage firm should supply a sample layout and will confirm deadlines and preferred details.  Corporate Patrons/Members are assigned preferential locations.  Try not to group vendors offering similar services in the same general area.

4–6 weeks before mtg

Make arrangements for the following VIP rooms to be on the Master Account.  Rooms paid by MLA are the following, listed in order of priority: President (if not in complimentary suite per contract), Past Pres./Pres. Elect, Administrative Officer, CM, ACM, Business Office, LAC room, complimentary rooms for others (including guest speakers or negotiated as part of sponsorship).  Inform the hotel of the MLA President’s name for the Presidential suite.  Arrange pickup and delivery to airports for VIPs (if included in contract).

4–6 weeks before mtg

Set a date and time for the pre-conference run-through (preferably Monday morning before the conference begins).  This meeting should include all hotel staff with MLA convention responsibilities, the MLA CM/ACM, the Local Arrangements Committee Chair(s), the Program Committee Chair, and the MLA Administrative Officer, if possible.  The President and Vice President may attend the first few minutes of the meeting in order to meet hotel staff.

 1-2 weeks before mtg
 ACM reviews exhibitors' payment history with MLA Business Office

During the meeting

Be available at all times to trouble-shoot, answer questions, solve problems, confer with hotel staff, etc.

ACM delivers exhibitor registration packets personally and follows up on any outstanding payments.  Ascertain whether they are attending the banquet, and if yes, that they have selected banquet choices.

By Friday, make sure all exhibitors have made arrangements for shipping out their materials.  Facilitate shipping arrangements with the hotel’s business offices or contracted drayage firm.

Attend the Sunday morning wrap-up/hand-off meeting; this meeting includes CM/ACM, T/Ex, current and upcoming program chairs, current and upcoming LAC chairs, and representatives from the MLA Business Office

Within 1–2 months after the meeting

Receive all invoices from hotel and other firms, as well as expense lists and receipts from program or workshop speakers.  Confirm expenses, reconcile discrepancies, fill out Request for Reimbursement forms for each person/company to be paid and transmit to MLA Administrative Officer.

Send copies of conference programs to all program advertisers not present at the meeting.

Within 1–2 months of the meeting

Contact the next year’s Program and Local Arrangements Committee, and begin work on the next Convention Calendar.

By July 1

Compile updates to Convention Manual and distribute