Have you considered attending a pre-conference workshop at AASLH?

Pre-conference workshops are a great way for small museums to make the most of their travel and professional development dollars.  By adding the cost of one extra night’s lodging, as well as the registration fee for one or two half-day workshops–or for one full-day session–conference participants can greatly increase their benefit from the Annual Meeting.  It can be difficult at times to squeeze extra money for these workshops out of your budget, but  these sessions are cost-effective ways to get extra training .

Each year, AASLH’s Annual Meeting (October 3-6, 2012) includes a variety of pre-conference workshops.  These small group sessions, led by other practitioners, generally encourage interactivity, so the networking opportunities are great.  And the topics match current issues in many history organizations.

This year, for instance, you can learn how to improve your emergency preparedness skills, consider new ways to engage your community, or build your inquiry-based learning skills.

Two pre-conference workshops may be of particular interest to small museum workers: “Connecting Visitors to Your Site: Hiring Front-Line Staff and Volunteers” and “Connecting Visitors to Your Site: Training Front-Line Staff and Volunteers.”  (Full disclosure–I’m chairperson  for the second session!)

Enthusiastic and effective staff  and volunteers can make the difference between an outstanding visit and a lackluster one.  Negative experiences can leave visitors feeling uninterested and bored.  During the morning session, you’ll learn how to develop an inspired workforce by improving your hiring skills.  During the afternoon session, we’ll show you how to create a training program that transforms your site’s front-line staff into outstanding educators and ambassadors.

Please note: In the preliminary program and on the registration sheet, “Connecting Visitors to Your Site: Training Front-Line Staff and Volunteers” is listed for Saturday.  In fact, this workshop will occur on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 3.


Rebecca Martin is a museum educator in Washington, DC.  Her small museum experience includes spending seven years at the Litchfield Historical Society in Litchfield, Connecticut, and serving on the board of the Connecticut League of History Organizations.  She studied in the history and museum studies programs at Grinnell College and the University of Delaware. She is passionate about developing ways to help all visitors learn from and enjoy their museum experiences