You are here

Continuing Education Symposia Development Guidelines

A symposium is defined as a learning opportunity organized for the purpose of providing a forum for discussion of a well-defined topic. For example, research might be a theme of a conference but qualitative research for medical librarians could be the well-defined topic for a symposium. A symposium ideally provides an environment for the free exchange of ideas that goes beyond the normal Question and Answer session after a presentation. Typically, a symposium consists of a series of presentations contributed by experts in the defined subject area of the symposium topic, followed by an interchange of opinions among symposium participants. Active participation of the attendees is built into the symposium schedule. In order to receive MLA CE credit, a symposium must be sponsored by an MLA unit or chapter. MLA CE credit is awarded for time spent on program content and does not include the time for exhibit hours and poster sessions.

Conference/Annual Meeting

Conferences and annual meetings of organizations are usually organized with a central theme and may include speakers, contributed papers, posters, roundtables, and other sessions. While CE credit is not awarded for attending meetings, individuals can claim AHIP credit for meeting attendance under the Conference Participation section of AHIP.


A symposium must be sponsored by an MLA unit or chapter.


MLA's professional development department solicits symposia proposals annually on behalf of the Continuing Education Committee. MLA units may submit proposals to the professional development department at any time.


A symposium should not normally be scheduled at the same time as MLA's regularly scheduled continuing education courses or non-conflict sessions at the annual meeting. However, exceptions may be made by the board.

Elements of the Proposal

The proposal must include the following elements (descriptions of the individual elements appear below).

  1. title/defined topic
  2. statement of need/purpose
  3. targeted audience
  4. intended benefits for participants
  5. symposium content and format including speaker qualifications
  6. personnel and other requirements (support staff, space, equipment, duration of session, etc.)
  7. budget/financial feasibility
  8. evaluation


Proposals for symposia are reviewed according to the following criteria.

  • importance/uniqueness of subject and content
  • timeliness
  • appeal/marketability
  • availability/adequacy of funding

Financial considerations

Net revenues are shared equally among the sponsoring group(s) and MLA. If there is more than one sponsoring group, profits are divided proportionately. One half going to MLA and the remainder is divided proportionately among the sponsors. (See sample proposal). If gross revenues are insufficient to cover expenses, the sponsoring group(s) and MLA will share all net expenses equally. MLA is responsible for the payment of all expenses incurred by the symposium according to agreements and contracts with vendors, presenters, and other service providers.

Each sponsoring MLA group will be asked to make a small donation to the symposium to ensure the success of the program.

For symposia not held at MLA, financial decisions are left to the sponsoring groups.


In the event of cancellation, the sponsoring group(s) and MLA will share equally in the payment of all expenses incurred prior to the date of cancellation.

Deadlines for submitting a proposal

Proposals should be submitted to (MLA's professional development department). Staff will refer proposals to the Continuing Education Committee or National Program Committee, if appropriate, for consideration. Staff will communicate all decisions about approvals to the symposium initiator(s)/sponsor(s). The initiator(s)/sponsor(s) of the symposium should adhere to the following deadlines.

May 1:

Those proposals requesting MLA CE contact hours for a symposium to be presented at the annual meeting should be submitted the May preceding the May in which the symposium is held (i.e., May 2014 for May 2015 presentation).

October 1:

Those proposals for a symposium to be presented at the annual meeting the following May that do not request MLA contact hours (i.e., October 1, 2014, for May 2015 Annual Meeting).

Six months to one year prior to presentation:

Those proposals for symposia held at a time other than the annual meeting irrespective of the request for MLA contact hours.

Elements of the Proposal Defined

Title/defined topic

State the working title/topic of the symposium.

Statement of need/purpose

Describe the purposes and needs for which the symposium is designed.

Targeted audience

Describe the kind of audience most likely to benefit from the symposium (e.g., academic health sciences library directors who have responsibility for strategic planning and control). Be specific.

Intended benefits for participants

Describe anticipated results or objectives that would be met such as knowledge to be gained by participant upon conclusion of the symposium (e.g., at the conclusion of the symposium, the participant will have a better understanding of the HPCC environment and networking models).

Symposium content and format

Describe in outline form the major concepts, facts, and principles of the symposium.

Describe the following:

  • format of the symposium (lecture, panel, small group discussion, etc.)
  • type and number of presenters (moderator, speaker, etc.)

Personnel and other requirements

Describe the following:

  • support staff needed
  • space and setup requirements (theater; 1 0 breakout rooms)
  • audiovisual, computer, telecommunications needs
  • instructional materials
  • other

Budget/financial feasibility

Itemize all estimated expenses for the symposium, including

  • planning costs
  • promotional activities
  • stipends, honoraria, and related expenses
  • personnel and other resources as detailed above
  • headquarters staff time
  • other

Include potential sources for funding (vendors, etc.)