Open Thread Thursday: Conferences

Earlier this week, I spent several lovely days in Washington DC at the Computers in Libraries 2011 conference. I have a conference reflections post still marinating in my head as I process everything that I saw and heard, but I thought it would be an excellent starter topic for this week’s open thread.

What makes for a good conference? What makes for a bad one? Share a story of either if you have one.

Or drop a comment about something you want to talk about that went on this week.

A reminder that you can make anonymous comments, just don’t be a dick.

8 thoughts on “Open Thread Thursday: Conferences

  1. Thank you for starting this thread. I am attending my first national conference next week (ACRL in Philadelphia). Since I’m paying for it out-of-pocket, I can only afford one overnight, which gives me two days at the conference. I will be looking for tips on how to make the most of that time. I have volunteered to be a room monitor for a Saturday session and registered to hear the closing keynote, but aside from that, I’m in need of a plan. I know a few academic librarians, but I work for a public library system, so I do not have a built-in network for socializing at the conference. What is the best way to go about integrating myself into the scene?

    • From my own experience, take advantage of the name tags to introduce yourself to people sitting around you. Ask them about the conference and the things they have seen. Don’t be staring down at your smartphone unless there is good cause or you need some downtime. Get together with the academic librarians that you know for drinks or meals. And there is a Facebook or Twitter meetup one of those nights, so see if you can get more details.

      At my first conference, I met some people who turned into good friends by introducing myself to one person who I recognized from her blog. She introduced me to a whole group of other people and it’s just expanded from there.

      I agree with what JP posted below: it’s the social aspects that really help define the conference experience. I love the hallway conversations, the bar talks, the dinner table banter. It helps move people from the online abstract to the living breathing beings that they are.

  2. Last weekend I attended the CUE (Computer Using Educators) conference in Palm Springs, CA. It was my second year and it’s a great conference: presenters were organized; the sessions were all interesting; the wi-fi was free; the location was good; the program was clear (and online); presentations were available online after the conference; and some of the more popular sessions were offered more than once

  3. A conference is only as good as the parties that surround it. I don’t mean that on a shallow level, I mean it on the deep level of social engagement and human interaction that is at the heart of what libraries ARE.

    Learning is great and all that, and intellectual interaction is important, yes, but if people aren’t interacting on a SOCIAL level, the conference may as well be a webinar. Or a blog post. Or an article in a boring ass library publication. I can do the intellectual stuff on my own time…

  4. I actually just attended a small research conference, here, at my own university. We had wonderful speakers and just a few brave students who presented. But what I would say that what makes a good conference is exactly what you said in your last sentence, don’t be a dick. Be friendly, open to new ideas, and courteous and it will open up so many other doors and opportunities.

  5. I recently attended a conference that I had attended the previous year. I actually got quite a bit less out of the conference this year. I am not sure if this has to do with the presentations I chose, the presentations that were available or my own scale. I have realized (too late) that I’d probably definitely get so much more out of it if I would’ve worked harder to go around, introduce myself and ask others their on an individual/small group basis. This is easier said than done for me, but it’ll be my main goal next year. I do think that conferences can be a great place to see what people are talking and thinking about, and the possibilities are there to get some great contacts as well as offer your services to others.

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