Conference season, or at least the part of it that appeals to my area of librarianship, is starting soon.
Up first for me is Computers in Libraries in DC, where I won’t be attending, but instead vacationing nearby (since it is so close) and visiting with colleagues and friends who will be attending. I’d go, but I already have funding this year for three conferences, and it didn’t seem fair to ask for another.
Next, I fly to Austin for the Electronic Resources & Libraries conference. From the venue to the content, this is becoming my favorite conference. I’ve had to actively introduce more diversity to the sessions I choose to attend, otherwise I would spend the whole conference geeking out about use data and spreadsheets and such.
Finally, I head to Buffalo for the conference that shaped me into the librarian I became: NASIG (North American Serials Interest Group). I like this one because I’ve known many of the attendees for the entirety of my relatively short career, and because it works very hard to not be just a librarian conference, but rather an industry-wide discussion of all things serial in libraryland.
It was in the context of thinking about these upcoming conferences that I read the latest Prof Hacker blog post from The Chronicle of Higher Education. Ryan Cordell writes about his experiences with conference tweeting and the recent revelations he has had regarding the impact this can have on the presenters, whether they are active participants on Twitter or not. Many things he wrote resonated with me, and reminded me that Twitter — as well as other popular social media platforms — is no longer the private back-channel of a few techie friends, but is a global platform that can have a broader impact than any of us may know.
I suggest reading the whole article, but I would like to quote here the Principles of Conference Tweeting that Cordell offers, as something for us all to keep in mind:
I will post praise generously, sharing what I find interesting about presentations.
Likewise, I will share pertinent links to people and projects, in order to bring attention to my colleagues’ work.
When posting questions or critiques, I will include the panelist’s username (an @ mention) whenever possible.
If the panelist does not have a username—or if I cannot find it—I will do my best to alert them when I post questions or critiques, rather than leaving them to discover those engagements independently.
I will not post questions to Twitter that I would not ask in the panel Q&A.
I will not use a tone on Twitter that I would not use when speaking to the scholar in person.
I will avoid “crosstalk”—joking exchanges only tangentially related to the talk—unless the presenter is explicitly involved in the chatter.
I will refuse to post or engage with posts that comment on the presenter’s person, rather than the presenter’s ideas.
I’ve been an active NASIG member since 2002, and our conference participation (as well as over-all membership) has been declining every year. I think a big part of it has to do with our identity and the shift of serials librarians to eresource librarians. I believe NASIG still has relevance, particularly as a forum for conversations between librarians and the commercial side of the continuing resources industry. However, I think our conference and membership can sometimes get mired down in 25+ years of traditions and personalities.
ER&L seems to be avoiding that so far, so I spent a good bit of time thinking about why their model is working so well for drawing new and repeat attendees. There certainly was no lack of commercial side participation, both as presenters and in session attendance. Some of that may be due to an early adoption of sponsorships and a lack of a negative knee-jerk reaction to branding by the sponsors. There is also a more prominent placement of the vendor exhibits, situated in the middle of the conference schedule, and including free food and drinks to draw in participants.
The other big thing that stood out to me is the length of the sessions. Each concurrent session was no longer than 50 min, and the last 10 min was reserved for questions. We’re experimenting with shorter sessions at NASIG this year, in part due to Program Planning Committee member suggestions based on experiences with other conferences. I am hopeful that this will result in fewer instances of time-fillers such as lengthy introductions with info about home institutions that are rarely relevant and literature reviews that would be better presented as handouts than from a podium. Sad to say, but my generation and younger are not going to want to attend your dry, academic presentation. Give me some content and context that I can’t get from reading your paper in the proceedings, or else I have no reason to listen to you.
I’m not saying that I want NASIG to become a mirror image of ER&L, but rather we need to be more brash about our relevance to the community. Let us be an “and also,” not an “either or.” I derive tremendous benefits from attending both conferences and participating in both communities, and I’m very thankful that my home institution supports this. I wish everyone else had that benefit, too.
The godfather of libraryland news and information sharing, Blake Carver, has a new endeavor: LISEvents. Sure, there are library conferences, workshops, and other activities listed all over the ‘net, but few of them look this good. As a bonus, in addition to event organizers listing their information, speakers can make themselves known by adding expertise and contact information.
I forsee LISEvents becoming the go-to place for event organizers, speakers, and audiences. So, jump on the train now before it leaves the station!
I alternately want to throw the monitor displaying the useless manual out the window or burst into tears.
My library purchased the ERM module for III last year. I had a couple of hours of WebEx training in April or May. My notes from it are obscure and useless. I’ve been putting off implementing ERM because it is overwhelmingly huge. Today I decided to try creating some ERM records for an ejournal package rather than simply attaching separate order records to the print bibs. Less than forty-five frustrating minutes later, I have no records created and I am fighting against collapsing into a quivering pile. I alternately want to throw the monitor displaying the useless manual out the window or burst into tears.
I think I need to take some St. John’s Wort and come at this again some other day.