LISA Manual

Preliminary Organizing Committee (POC)

Before the official meeting planning starts, the Preliminary Organizing Committee (POC) is formed. This is not a formal committee, but de facto consists of the activists in the field. The POC has large responsibilities as it takes care of some essential decisions. The POC

  • chooses the conference location from among volunteers
  • chooses general topic themes and formulates the broad conference outline
  • selects the SOC and LOC committee chairs and SOC members
  • makes preliminary inquiries/arrangements regarding proceedings publication and
  • continues to informally advise and sometimes be on committees

Choosing the conference location
see Location

Setting conference dates
The conference dates (as well as the conference location, see above) should be set at least 18 months in advance as many aspects of conference preparation require many months of preparation. It is important to choose conference dates that will not conflict or compete with other major meetings, e.g. the IAU General Assembly or SLA conferences. The fine-tuning of the dates needs to be done by the POC in cooperation with the LOC to avoid in-house conflicts with regard to booking meeting rooms and other facilities.

Choosing conference theme / general topics
The conference theme should attract people’s interest; it should be 'catchy' without trying to be just fashionable. The theme should reflect current issues and interests in the field, but at the same time it should allow for presentations about ongoing and more traditional work and interesting projects.

Titles/mottos of previous LISA conferences:
  • LISA I and II: no overall title / theme
  • LISA III: Managing Change Gracefully
  • LISA IV: Emerging and Preserving -- Providing Astronomical Information in the Digital Age
  • LISA V: Common Challenges -- Uncommon Solutions

Selecting SOC co-chairs and members
Traditionally, LISA co-chairs used to be a librarian and an astronomer, typically from different institutions and even from different countries. The librarian/astronomer mix has proven to be advantageous when applying for general meeting funding as some of the organizations that might be willing and able to fund librarians conferences appreciate active involvement of scientists in the meeting planning. Because of the geographical distance of the SOC co-chairs, it is extremely important that they work well together; in particular their communication skills must be high. If the co-chairs are located in different time zones, even telephone conversations can be difficult, so e-mail communication will be the method of choice (which has some intrinsic difficulties because unless the persons know each other very well, everything needs to be spelled out and explained in writing.)

Quite possibly, the librarian SOC co-chair will do most of the planning, but s/he consults the scientific co-chair regularly.

In addition to the SOC co-chairs, POC also suggests the (usually 10-12) SOC members. They should:
  • represent a mix of librarians and scientists
  • be geographically distributed
  • come from developed and developing countries
  • have interest or expertise in varied subject areas
  • communicate well with each other
As a courtesy to the hosts and in order to include the expertise, the librarian co-chair of the LOC has traditionally been a member of the SOC.

Related document:

Inviting SOC co-chair (sample letter from LISA IV)

See also: Past SOCs

Selecting LOC co-chairs and members
LOC co-chairs usually are those who have volunteered to host the meeting. Like SOC co-chairs, the LOC co-chairs should be a scientist and a librarian. They will choose other local members of the committee, including local institution staff, to help plan and carry out the meeting. The LOC usually consists of approx. 6 people.

Preliminary inquiries regarding proceedings publication
The POC solicits quotes from various publishers for the print version of the meeting proceedings.

See also: Proceedings

Continued informal advise
The primary work is now taken up by other committees: SOC, LOC, FOL. However, since the POC members are the activists in field, they are often on the SOC (or LOC) and often are part of the Friends of LISA. They may also act as advisors to SOC and LOC if needed.