Discussion topic: conferences and events

Crowd by James Cridland

Crowd by James Cridland

Confession time: here at the International Librarians Network we sometimes reuse our discussion topics. A discussion topic used in one round of the program may appear in a later round. Our next topic is one of our recycled discussion topics, but that’s because it’s a big topic, and it’s one that constantly changes. So we think it’s reasonable to ask our repeat participants to discuss the topic with their new partners – and for our new participants, welcome to the conferences and events discussion topic!

Library Land is replete with conferences, events, seminars, networking events, presentations, and all kinds of shindigs. Some of them are large, formal, and have a long history: the 20,000-strong Annual Conferences of the American Library Association comes to mind (can you imagine that many librarians in one place?). Some of them are small and informal – a handful of librarians gathering in a cafe to discuss a particular topic. Some happen face to face, while others, like the Library 2.014 conference, happen entirely online. Variations abound, but they all have one thing in common: they are all designed to give us a forum to share ideas with other people. By sharing ideas, we develop them, grow them, even discard the ones that don’t work.

There are trends in conferences and events. It was five years ago that I first saw Twitter being used to create a conference ‘back-channel’, and since then I haven’t dreamed of going to a library conference without also following it on Twitter lest I miss half the conversations. There are also regional variations – apparently this obsession with Twitter at conferences is something that Australians, like myself, excel in, but it’s not that common in other countries. Some countries would find it disrespectful to be tweeting while someone is presenting.

We’d like to spend the next two weeks talking about conferences and events, and we have a number of guest posts lined up to showcase things happening around the world. To kick off the conversation with your partner, consider asking each other:

  • Have you ever been to a library conference? When and where was it?
  • What kind of events happen in your area? Are there smaller events that are held?
  • Do you prefer attending big, formal conferences, or smaller events that might be shorter (and cheaper!)?
  • Are there conferences or events that you would like to go to in the future?

Remember you can join in the wider conversation in our comments thread below, or on our Twitter or Facebook pages. We’ve also scheduled a live Twitter chat on this topic, so please join in if you can. Who knows – you might even discover and exciting international event that you add to your must-see list!

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