Walt Crawford
Notes on Speaking Invitations

If you're interested in asking me to speak: Ask.

I now speak very rarely, partly because of fewer invitations, partly because I'm doing other things and business travel is such a hassle. .

Informal notes on factors I consider in responding to speaking invitations--and what happens after I accept--follow.

New Topics

I've spoken on a wide variety of library-related topics over the years. In 2012 and beyond, I believe my strongest suits are these:

  • Micropublishing and libraries: How libraries (specifically public but also academic and special) can serve their communities and their missions, with no new funding (other than one book purchase), by helping patrons to produce micropublications--that is, print books where the total edition size will probably only be one to fifty (or 500) copies. My 2012 book, The Librarian's Guide to Micropublishing, is the seminal work in this area.
  • Public libraries in social networks. I've done a 100% survey of public libraries in 38 states--5,958 libraries in all--to determine their use of Facebook and Twitter as of fall 2011. If there was interest at the state level (within any of those 38 states), I could come armed with more details on that particular state than will be present in the book Successful Social Networking in Public Libraries (ALA Editions, 2014 but available in late September 2013).
  • Telling the library story, and specifically looking at library benefits and budgets, based on work done for $4 to $1: Public Library Benefits and Budgets.

How about open access?

I am not available to speak on OA unless it's related to the unique research projects I've carried out. Otherwise, there are far more qualified people to speak on these topics, and I'd guess most of them are better speakers.

Here's a thought and a list: Chances are, your list of speakers could use more gender balance--and there are a lot of women well qualified to speak on OA. Thanks to April Hathcock, there's even a list of these women. (If that link doesn't work, I suspect this blog post will have a current link.) Why not ask one of them?

Working Within Limits

I love library conferences and usually enjoy speaking.

I also take real vacations, spend lots of time reading, writing, and relaxing, and am at the point that business travel is a mixed pleasure hassle, especially since we're now at least an hour away from a major airport.

    • When I was in demand, my range was zero to four speaking trips per calendar year, with two or three trips ideal, eight a limit.
    • I will sometimes combine two speeches in a single trip.
    • I normally expect an honorarium (at least $1,500 for nonprofits; to be negotiated for commercial cases) in addition to full expenses. Negotiation is possible.
    • There are always exceptions--primarily conferences I'd particularly like to attend and engagements in easy driving distance from home.

Personal Preferences and Practical Choices

I love state and regional library association conferences involving public and academic librarians. I get to meet librarians of different types, learn from the programs, see what's happening in the field, and enjoy smaller-scale social events. If possible, I'll attend the whole conference. I've also enjoyed specialized conferences.

I hate it when there's no podium or stand for my speaking notes. I won't do programs that don't make sense to me (e.g., artificial "debates").

I've spoken at individual libraries (public and academic), library consortia at several scales, and varieties of library organizations I wasn't aware existed. I've enjoyed all but three out of more than a hundred speaking occasions.

Ask. If I can't do it, I'll let you know--and I'll try to let you know why. I start from yes, if the arrangements make sense.

A note regarding ALA: I'm an ALA member, and probably can't be paid for speaking during an ALA program. While I attended both ALA and Midwinter regularly for 34 years, that is no longer feasible, given a lack of library-related income.

What I Need to Know

A request can be as informal as a one-paragraph e-mail message or as formal as a letter.
E-mail is a great way to start.
waltcrawford, domain gmail.com.

I respond to e-mail fairly rapidly unless I'm on the road (in which case I don't check email until I return home)..

Once I know the basics of an invitation, I'll either rule it out because it's impossible or pencil in the occasion and ask more questions.

Before I accept an invitation--moving from penciled in to penned in as confirmed--I need to know the following:

  • Date, time, location, and nature of the occasion. If it's a conference, I need the range of dates.
  • Honorarium (except for ALA programs). Make your standard offer (if you have one).
  • Expense arrangements. Full travel costs, lodging at the conference hotel (if there is one) or a business-class [or better] hotel, and either an adequate fixed per diem for meals or actual meal expenses. Full registration if it's a conference, including social events as appropriate. I strongly prefer to fly American or its partners.
  • For overseas trips, I normally expect at least business class travel on Oneworld airlines (American, British Air, Quantas, etc.).
  • Format and length expected and whether you're looking for a specific topic or not. (What topics? See "New Topics" above. Otherwise, my writing and previous speeches should provide some possibilities. I'm open to suggestions.)
  • Whatever else you think I should know about the group and the occasion.

If you want to explore possibilities before making a formal offer, that's fine with me. Let me know as much of these potential factors as you can, and I'll give you as clear an answer as I can--and, if need be, set up a time for phone discussion of issues. I don't stand on formality--during preliminary discussions or during the event.

Other Notes

Everything else is on a case-by-case basis, but there are a few items worth noting:

  • You can download a brief bio, publicity photo, selective vita, or full vita (pdf) from this site.
  • If you have a Web site for the event or conference, let me know. I'll add a link in my "coming events" page.
  • Let me know deadlines for:
    Title of the speech
    Abstract or summary of the speech
    Full text (if you need it, recognizing that it probably won't be what I say)
  • If you expect or desire a handout (camera-ready pages to be copied and stapled), let me know, with deadline.
  • If you want something for Web-based or paper proceedings, let me know--with deadline.
  • Unless the topic requires it, I do not use AV (PowerPoint, transparencies, or whatever). I like the lights up so I can see people.
  • I do need a podium or stand for my notes and a microphone if it's a big group or the acoustics are bad. A podium with a clock in it is ideal, if rare.
  • Unobtrusive audiotaping or videotaping is fine (as long as I know about it).
  • I don't rent a car at the speaking location if there's any way to avoid it. I appreciate transportation to & from the airport, or at least good information on how to handle transportation.
  • I usually make my own air reservations and will work with you on hotel reservations. I don't expect expenses to be reimbursed until after the conference.
  • I do need a nonsmoking room and I always appreciate room upgrades, but I'm flexible.
  • If this is a library conference within my general areas of interest, I'll attend as many sessions and events as possible.
  • If you want to set up an informal discussion following a formal presentation, great. Just let me know (in advance, preferably).
  • I'm flexible regarding dinners, tours, etc. If you'd like to set things up, let me know.
  • If you'd like me to be at certain events within a conference, I'd normally be delighted. I'm not a nightowl, so if it's a late-night event, I might pass.
  • I always bring along leisure reading when I go on a speaking trip. Your group should not feel that it's obliged to entertain me at all times or to provide a guide. If that's something someone wants to do, great; if not, also great.
  • It's never bothered me to dine alone, but I'm also happy to join small groups of people for meals, drinks, chats, whatever.
  • For lots more about speaking-related issues, read this.

That should cover it. The bottom line is simple enough:

If you'd like me to speak, ask.

[What about writing and other requests? Rough notes are here.]

Revised June 20, 2017