Charleston Conference Wrap-Up

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the twenty-fifth annual Charleston Conference. It’s a collection development conference I’ve been wanting to go to for years. Luckily, I was asked to present with a couple of my colleagues on a project our libraries have been working on regarding shared collection development approval plans.

Unlike the insanity that is the ALA annual conference, or even the midwinter meeting, the Charleston Conference is small, focused, and happens mainly in the hallways between meetings. Unlike Internet Librarian, hardly anyone had laptops, and I don’t think anyone was actively blogging the sessions. That’s really too bad, because there were some great presentations!

The format of the conference, for those who haven’t attended, is thus: in the morning, everyone packs into a huge ballroom to listen to a series of speakers. This gives conference attendees a shared experience – we all heard T. Scott talking about “The End of Libraries or Why There’s Never Been A Better Time to be A Librarian”. We all laughed at the skit that poked fun at long-time attendees (my favorite was the parody of the “outraged” activist librarian, modeled on Chuck Hamaker of UNCC. He was my first head of collection development, and took a lot of time at this conference to talk with me.) And so on…. Then, for lunch, there are a series of lunches that people can attend. I confess, I need my down-time, so headed out to lunch sans conference attendees. After lunch are a series of concurrent sessions. And in the evenings there were all-conference receptions. All in all, the format of the conference is much to my liking. It’s heresy to admit this, but I like this conference better than any other I’ve ever attended.

The session I helped present was the third in a three-part series. The folks from Ohiolink and Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries both presented on how they use a shared approval plan from YBP to fill in gaps in the collections across their libraries. The practicalities of how they do that are quite different, but they share the principle of making sure that someone in their large consortia buy most of the books that are in YBP’s database. We in the Trico Libraries are doing something quite different. We’ve set up three pilot approval plans in three different subject areas, and are cooperating at the front end of things to get books into our collections, make our collections more unique, and reduce duplication within the three libraries. I suspect that we’re pretty radical among libraries, if the questions we got asked and the interest people showed in our presentation provides an inkling.

The other concurrent sessions I attended (besides our three) were:

The Next Generation of Metasearch: What’s up, where are we heading?

Sara Randall of Endeavor, Pat Stevens of NISO, and Roy Tennant of the California Digital Library

I particularly wanted to hear Roy speak, as he’s got quite the reputation in the library world. He didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, his remarks aren’t on his website yet. Suffice to say that he talked about metasearch, Google, and libraries.

The Confluence of Open Access and Licensed Content

Mary Newhart at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Polly Karpowicz of APSA, Stephen Rhind-Tutt of Alexander Street Press, and Edward Zalta of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

This session was loads of fun. It ran across two concurrent sessions – which meant that each presenter talked for about 25 minutes about the project they were working on that had both open access and licensed content aspects to it. Those projects are:

The best part of the conference, besides all the great presentation, was the opportunity to really TALK with people. I ran into the previously mentioned Chuck Hamaker, who taught me the first things I ever knew about collection development. It was fun to share with him some of my first memories of him – yelling at me for selecting a book by a publisher that was, in his opinion, dreck. Fortunately, I don’t scare easily, so his yelling didn’t phase me much. 🙂 I also ran into several of my favorite Women’s Studies Section colleagues from the University of California. They came to our presentation, and gave me lots of warm fuzzies afterwards. I love the WSS people! And then there were former colleagues from the Tricos, people I knew in jobs before this one, and the vendors and publishers with whom we work. So nice to just TALK.

My recommendation? If you’re a librarian who does collection development, at some point, make sure you get to this conference. It’s just on the verge of busting out and becoming really big, so go before that happens and the magic of the small size disappears.

2 thoughts to “Charleston Conference Wrap-Up”

  1. Sounds like an amazing conference. I have never really though about all that it must take to keep a library up, running, and innovative.

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed the conference. One of the reasons I haven’t gone to the Society for Neuroscience meeting yet is that it’s something like 20,000 people…

    I also feel obliged to mention that OhioLINK was great. It was soooo much better than the Pennsylvania system or the BorrowDirect crap that we have at Penn.

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