Is The SBL Really Charging People to Use Digital Projectors at the Annual Meeting in Atlanta?

Is anyone presenting at SBL in Atlanta and using a digital projector?  And if so, have you been told that you have to pay an additional fee for the use of such equipment?  If so, I’d very much appreciate it if you could let me know if this is indeed the case.  If it is, it’s really quite scandalous considering the already astronomical conference fee attendees are required to pay (not to mention hotel costs, transport, and food).

I ask because this is the notice that’s been sent to presenters-

The SBL Annual Meeting in Atlanta is fast-approaching and we want to ensure that you have the AV equipment and support you need to enhance your presentation. If you are receiving this email, you indicated an interest in ordering AV materials (LCD Projector or Overhead Projector) when you submitted your paper/abstract. The current rate to order an LCD Projector (beamer) and screen is $25 USD and the current rate to order an Overhead Projector and screen is $20 USD. On September 17th the rates will increase to $75 and $60, respectively. In mid to late October, all incomplete AV orders will be canceled.

Seriously? I have attended a lot of academic conferences in my life and NEVER seen presenters levied a fee for use of equipment. Ever. This, as far as I am concerned, is far more offensive than the Sausage Debacle. I’m simply gobsmacked.

Equally surprising is the fact that no one has mentioned it!

UPDATE: Jeremy Thompson has some thoughts on the matter, as does Roland ‘the colorful Aussie’ Boer.

UPDATE II: Yigal Levin wrote late last August when he first heard of the fee this letter, which he has given me permission to post-

Dear LaTrina,

When I first saw this new demand, I was surprised and unsure of how to respond. So I am now, in protest. As you note, the use of AV aids does much to enhance the presentations given at academic meetings. Additionally, use of AV equipment has all but replaced paper handouts, which are both ecologically harmful and often much less effective. Such use of AV equipment has become pretty much standard, any respectful lecture hall is equipped with a projector and screen, and if not, then supplying them is part and parcel of organizing a conference. For both of the above-mentioned reasons, SBL should be doing all it can to encourage presenters to use AV presentations. Instead, by fining such presenters, you are doing the exact opposite. I do appreciate that there are costs involved, but since the main beneficiaries of use of AV are the audience, who enjoy the more interesting lectures, such costs should be calculated into the general cost of running the meeting, and worked into the regular registration fee which is paid by all participants. Distributed between all of the hundreds of participants, I imagine that the increase in registration fees would be just a few dollars per participant. Until such time as I am informed that the 25 dollar “fine” is cancelled, I withdraw my request for a projector. I’ll make do with paper handouts, killing a few trees along the way.
Yigal Levin


16 thoughts on “Is The SBL Really Charging People to Use Digital Projectors at the Annual Meeting in Atlanta?

  1. carla sulzbach 4 Nov 2010 at 6:29 pm

    This is so shocking and really completely beyond outrageous. And here I had always wondered why presenters don’t get a discount or even a waver on those registration fees. After all, it’s the presenters that attract the audiences. Has anyone ever heard of performers having to pay to attend their own concerts where they are the featured attraction rather than receiving a handsome income!?? Guess I can forget about those wavers now …


  2. Steve Walton 4 Nov 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Agreed – this is outrageous! Is the SBL meeting a modern conference using modern technology or not? What are we paying our membership fees for?


  3. bobcargill 4 Nov 2010 at 7:20 pm

    this can’t be right. if it is, then we need to choose another hotel for conferences.

    no one/few are going to pay for technology that is common to modern scholarship. do we next pay for electricity? phone signal for smart phones? i’ll bring my own projector before i pay to use one….wait a tic… i already do.

    how are we going to do a blogging and online publication section without a digi projector? computer assisted research group??

    sbl should be encouraging the use of technology, not taxing it.
    (or has the obama administration taken over the hyatt regency atlanta?)

    unless we want old, dry sections of 5 people reading papers, we should incentivise the use of technology, not fine it.

    if anything, we should make presenters pay if they *don’t* use some sort of technological presentation aid. in fact, if you can’t prove that you didn’t write your paper in the hotel room in the hour before your session, that should cost $25. 😉


  4. James F. McGrath 4 Nov 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I had heard rumors about this. If you find out it is correct and is going to be enforced at the conference, let me know and I’ll see if I can get hold of a mini-projector. It would be better to buy one of those (they cost a few hundred dollars) than to pay $150 to try to persuade them to let me have a projector for my two papers! 🙂


    • Jim 4 Nov 2010 at 8:47 pm

      oh it is in fact 100% true. the sbl is charging for the use of av resources.


      • Jim 4 Nov 2010 at 8:48 pm

        i have one of my own that i’m going to have in my car just in case someone at ASOR needs it (though no such thing is planned there! that i know of!!!)


  5. Joel 4 Nov 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I have a digital one if anyone needs it.


  6. Jim Aitken 5 Nov 2010 at 5:13 am

    I know that the hotels themselves charge fees for such equipment, but isn’t that included in the large conference fee to delegates anyway? Imagine charging individuals to use technology when we are encouraging scholars to give good, clear presentations. Although I only have partial expenses covered by my University, how do you claim such a fee from the University anyway?

    At least one presenter is threatening to withdraw his paper if there is no data projector.


  7. […] equipment at the upcoming conference in Atlanta. The untiring Jim West has broken the news at a blog that occasionally talks about Zwingli, suggesting it is an even greater scandal than that of the […]


  8. Antonio Lombatti 5 Nov 2010 at 9:14 am



    • Jim 5 Nov 2010 at 9:44 am

      indeed- shameful.


  9. Coleman A. Baker 5 Nov 2010 at 9:17 am

    I, too, received this email and promptly canceled my request for the projector.


  10. John Lyons 6 Nov 2010 at 5:58 am

    Not a new move really. Here is the ISBL Rome version from a year ago.



    SBL Rome Audio Visual Announcement
    “Kent Richards”
    Tue, May 26, 2009 6:50 pm

    Dear Colleagues:

    I am sure you are feeling the economic pinch. Organizations and your own institutions are facing challenges with the current global financial situation. SBL is not exempt from these challenges.

    We received the audiovisual equipment rental price from our supplier in Rome. Provision of this equipment is quite expensive and would cost the SBL over $32,690. There is no way that we can handle that expense even with very good registration numbers (currently around 650). In order to provide the requested equipment, it would be necessary to charge each attendee an additional $50 USD on arrival at the meeting, regardless of their using AV or not. The above price does not include the personnel needed to support this usage throughout the meeting. We have over 15 simultaneous sessions requiring equipment much of the time.

    Faced with these costs, SBL will not be able to supply any audio visual equipment for the meeting in Rome. Participants needing equipment must bring their own or make arrangements with another presenter. If you are bringing your own projector and computer, please let us know by no later than June 5 so that we can make sure extension cords are available.

    Presentations that can be sufficiently represented on paper should be brought
    as handouts. There are no copying facilities at the meeting site itself, but
    copy and print businesses are in the vicinity. The average number of copies
    needed per presentation is around 30. Make up your copies ahead of time. It
    will be less expensive.

    The only session that will have any sort of audio equipment will be the opening session, which will include a microphone to reach the larger room.

    Please direct your responses/questions to

    Sorry for this inconvenience,

    Kent Harold Richards


  11. James F. McGrath 6 Nov 2010 at 8:09 am

    I wonder how many conference centers are taking steps to install projectors and other AV equipment in rooms. I can understand why they might not want to – you then have to offer tech support, maintain the equipment, and worry about theft.

    Presumably if the trend is in this direction, purchasing one’s own handheld-size projector is probably a smart move.

    But I’d love for SBL members to explore a more systematic consideration of, and possible solutions to, this problem.


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