Texas Library Association Guide Wows AM Editors Too many of us have suffered the frustration of not having enough information in our meeting program guides, or not being able to find what we need to know quickly enough. That's why the editors decided to launch our Top Guide contest, now in its second year. The winner this year, from submissions sent in by AM readers and judged by the editors of this magazine, is the Texas Library Association's 1999 Annual Conference Guide.

TLA is the largest state library association in the country, hosting the third-largest library association conference in the world, which drew 6,300 attendees and 1,300 exhibitors in 1999. Says conference manager Kathy Pustejovsky, "We are constantly refining our printed program to provide easy accessibility to our show. And we've added a lot of items, such as the index of conference programs by topic and also the audience track codes."

The TLA program was not the only guide to impress editors. We also liked the easy-to-use, well-organized, pocket-size 1999 guide of the Florida Credit Union League. The Mass Retail Industry's 1999 guide included handouts from various sessions for easy reference--a great idea. The Environmental Careers Organization put the map of the exhibitor booths and the alphabetical listing of exhibitors on facing pages in the fold of its paperback guide for easy access.

We'd like to thank everyone who contributed a program guide for consideration in our contest. Look for details on our third annual Top Guides contest in our August 2000 issue.

*PACKING IT IN Although our preference is always for the pocket-size program guide, The Texas Library Association's 8.5-inch by 11-inch paperback guide was handy enough to tote in a briefcase, and it packed a lot of information into its 104 pages. "Libraries Linking Centuries" was the theme of the event, and appropriately the theme line and logo was used on the cover and throughout the guide as a linking element.

*WHERE TO EAT What do people love to do when they go to a meeting? Dine out! A list of local restaurants appeared on page eight, and included 16 options organized by price--from least expensive to most expensive. Hours and phone numbers were included, along with recommended entrees for each restaurant.

*TOPICAL INTERESTS With a group with very diverse interests, such as the TLA delegates, it's important for attendees to get a quick overview of what sessions throughout the program pertain to their professional interests. Pages 29 through 44 of the guide detailed all the sessions relating to various categories, such as career development, distance learning, and networks and cooperation. Another useful tool was the detailed Index--something not seen very often in program guides--but what would you expect from a group of librarians? The Author's Autograph schedule on pages 53 and 54 was another good idea.

*HOTEL LOCATOR For large meetings it's always handy to have a map showing the locations of the various hotels used for the conference. The TLA guide not only had a detailed map showing hotel locations, but it also provided addresses and phone numbers of various special-event venues, such as the Dallas Public Library and the Museum of African-American Life and Culture. The guide included no four-color pictures (except for the cover), but the designer made good use of black and red type throughout.

*WHERE ARE WE? A full page of the program guide was devoted to a schematic of each level of the Dallas Convention Center. Shown here is level 3 of the center. Although the print was a tad too small for easily identifying room numbers and names, we salute the use of schematics to help attendees find their way around large convention facilities. The guide also contained a schematic of exhibitor booths.

*AUDIENCE CODES One of the nicest things about the TLA guide was that each of the sessions was given audience codes (A for Academic, L for Lay, etc.), so that attendees could quickly locate which sessions were most pertinent to their interests. Each session also listed program tracks. For instance, M&C stood for "Management and Change," designating sessions focusing on administrative issues. Also used throughout was a simple Pegasus icon, indicating general sessions and dining breaks--a nice graphic break in the program text.

TOP GUIDE'S VITAL STATS * Organization: Texas Library Association

* Event: 1999 Annual Meeting and Trade Show

* Site: Dallas, Texas

* Dates: April 20-23, 1999

* Top Guide Budget: $15,000

* Quantity: 10,000

* Winning Team: Kathy Pustejovsky, conference manager Mary Ann Emerson, public relations specialist Elise Wright, conference and special projects manager