Many professionals question the cost and benefit of going to conferences today as they can follow along with the Twitter feed, read the papers published after the conference and sometimes the ability to see the speakers if they are recorded. But lets be honest — who does have the time to do that? For me going to an industry conference is much more than the papers and presentations and the opportunity to engage with a large variety of library industry vendors in the one place, though they are of course the main attraction.
A conference is a place to network with the like-minded and be re-energized by being with curious, open minded colleagues willing to share, wonder, and engage. Taking time out of your busy task focused days is important so that you can do some actual future based thinking, look outside your own institution to see what others are doing and find opportunities to innovate, build on ideas and learn. Opportunities to get social are only limited by time and many interstate colleagues take this time to catch up over a pre-dinner drink, a post conference day pizza or a breakfast catch-up. At the recent ALIA Information Online conference I met new colleagues, new vendors and finally met a newly appointed University Librarian from my area — we had to go all the way to Sydney to meet. Now we are starting to explore ways we can collaborate locally with our first venture a regional professional development event in Library and Information week.
Gamification: Thanks to the ALIA Scouts who developed the Click Game to encourage delegates to engage with each other and with conference exhibitors in a fun way. Conference delegates come from all levels of a library organisation and often are not the decision makers so can be hesitant to engage with Conference exhibitors. But really exhibitors at a conference just want to support the industry and the conference experience, sharing what is new, what they can offer and what the future holds. They are not there for the hard sell but they do want a conversation. Gamers earned badges, prizes and I personally met new delegates by being willing to give the game a go. And I won a prize!
The Five GLAM senses workshop was another highlight of the Information Online 2019 experience. Participants explored different ways of ‘seeing’, ‘hearing’, ‘smelling’, ‘touching’ and ‘tasting’ by exploring all the five senses in a GLAM context. And we got a goodie bag. What does a painting sound like? What does an exhibition feel like to touch and how do the visually impaired explore an exhibition if there is a no touch rule? How do landscapes and emotions smell? And lastly why does the gut rebel against some foods and not others? Even when insects are beautifully made into dark chocolate jewellery I definitely could not put them near my mouth! My gut said a very definite NO. You can discover more from this workshop through Twitter hashtags #Infoonline19 #GLAMRsenses. Erin was much braver than me.
The standout keynotes in an amazing line-up were Genevieve Bell and Marek Kowalkiewicz and of course, Carla Hayden the Library of Congress Librarian who was Skyped in to speak with us. All the keynotes were recorded and I do recommend taking the time to listen to them if you did not make it to the conference.
The quick sessions with multiple papers were the ones I went for first— they gave me enough of a sense of the project and the contacts if I needed to know more. A Model for Innovative Community Engagement: Tech Shed at City of Canada Bay and State Library of NSW DX Lab’s #NewSelfWales: not another Selfie experience! and Joint Public Library and State Library NSW Local studies Contemporary collecting: collecting Instagram for local studies were the standouts for me.
Investing in your own professional development should include a national conference every few years and Information Online is a large, busy mind blowing experience so start saving for 2021.
Three Things that Amazed Me: 1. The energy generated from the over 700 delegates really invested in their industry and learning new ways of working. 2. The generosity of the library staff who invested their own time and energy in writing the papers and sharing their own learning and stories. 3. The generosity of the vendors of the library industry who come back time and again at great cost to support conferences like this.
Two Things to focus on: 1. Integrate and find ways to build more digital experiences in the physical library. 2. Look for ways to engage men’s sheds in the library makerspaces.
One Takeaway to do: Invest more time in creating content for marketing the collection and feature the digital library more often.