After attending ACRL (for the first time), I think there’s something to talk about there, too.
ACRL was a cosponsor of the first virtual conference I ever attended. That was three years ago, and it seems like every year since then, there’s been some kind of large-scale virtual offering. This conference offered an in-person and virtual option. I feel pretty strongly about allowing people to participate in professional organizations even if they are unable to physically attend, so that there was an offering like this, so early in my career, helped shape my expectations that this should always be a possibility.
This was my first ACRL conference, and though there were a few things I would adapt and change, I was overall impressed. Some of the strengths included:
- The conference worked hard to be Green.
- Twitter was fairly widespread, and provided a pretty good conference backchannel.
- ACRL embraced social networking by providing a tag, and encouraging its use across networks. At the end, this content was tied together in a slideshow for the closing session.
- The Cyber Zed Shed continues to be a big draw for people, and many people had very positive things to say.
- ACRL conducts focus groups during the conference. I attended one for those under 35. Soliciting this type of information from members can help the organization shift to better meet needs.
In general, I was impressed with how ACRL embraced social software to make the conference be useful to more than just those there. So, while I cited LITA as an organization that can be a model for ALA, I am citing ACRL to be a model for how conferences can work. I would like to see some changes: for example, the Zed Shed could have two tracks: one for really emerging, cutting edge information, and one that is about where it is now. But over all, I’m impressed.
And, really, though I’ve been very involved with ALA for about five years, I don’t know all the different groups and conferences. (I haven’t made it to a LITA conference yet.) But these are the shining examples I’ve seen. What have you seen that gives you hope for ALA?