One of the keynote speakers is Rebecca Kamen, a fascinating artist who explores the connections between art and science. She'll also be presenting a session on Thursday afternoon about altered book art!
One of the preconferences is about marketing. Social marketing, no less - and a good thing, too! It's time for libraries to get serious about our brand and our image. WE know that we're wonderful, and it's time that everyone else knew it too.
I see several cool and applicable sessions I'd like to attend, which isn't always the case. Conferences seem to mainly have sessions at 1) reference librarians and 2) library administrators. Ideas for programming and marketing are much rarer. But this conference has quite a few sessions that apply to publicity; in a different set of circumstances I could see myself happily spending 3 days in Portsmouth, chillin' at a hotel, going to conference events, and getting inspired.
Here's my ideal Marketing Agenda for the VLA Annual Conference, 2011:
10 a.m.-1 p.m. Can Libraries be sold as soap? (preconference)
Afternoon/evening: Skip second preconference about ghosts in Virgina. Bum around, blog, catch up on emails, "network."
10-11:30 a.m.: Opening Session, with keynote speaker Rebecca Kamen
noon-1 p.m.: New Members Round Table Forum Lunch (I'm thinking of joining VLA)
1:15-2 p.m.: What Can I Do with This? Deciphering Copyright and License Notices
2:15-3 p.m.: Sustaining your Professional and Scholarly Identity in the Digital Environment
3-4 p.m.: "Visit the Exhibits"
Since I'm not shopping for RFID systems or early literacy computers, I mainly watch for two things at the exhibits: design and trends. I pick up any literature whose design I like. I keep my eyes open for creative layouts and formats, and new ways of presenting information. And I look at the trends - how are library-focused vendors presenting themselves? What are they emphasizing? Are there any ideas - for example, interactive signage - that I might be able to take back and apply in some way?
4-4:45 p.m. Destroying Books, Creating Visions.
(Yes, this session would be an indulgence, but altered book art is so cool. Alternate session would be Advocating for Public Libraries: Online Tools and Tactics)
5-6 p.m.: Paraprofessional forum
Evening: Conference social. More "networking."
8-8:45 a.m.: Connecting with Community: Reinventing your Library as a Community Hub
This time slot is when I'd most like to have Hermione's Time Turner available - there are several good options.
9-11:30: General session
11:30-12:15 Measuring the Soft Stuff
1:15-2 p.m. Nothing good. Visit exhibits? Take a long lunch? Write a blog post?
2:15-3 p.m. Documenting the Civil War: The Civil War 150 Legacy Project
Digitization and scanning are all the rage. Better get on board.
3:15-4 p.m. Reading Images: Art Libraries in Norfolk, VA
If I make it, I hope to see you there! Conferences are important - not just for the information and networking, maybe not even mostly for the information and networking, but because they give us a chance to focus on the big picture. Details aside, just the act of getting together to discuss fresh ideas, long-term solutions and goals is incredibly valuable. In my opinion, the gain is doubled if you make time to share what caught your interest with your coworkers. If we can inspire each other, spark conversation, and get ideas flowing, we've spent our time well.