I’ve been to a few conferences in my professional career (really, far more than I want to recall) but few stick out as engaging and thought provoking as the one I attended earlier this week. All too often conference sessions can just wash over one with brief – but only fleeting – notice. Not true at the ARL Library Assessment Conference: Building Effective, Sustainable, Practical Assessment (http://www.arl.org/stats/laconf/). Our fellow bloggers over at libraryassessment.info have summaries of a number of sessions.
Why do I think it was such a great conference though? Because the notes I found myself taking weren’t summaries of what the speakers were saying but rather an ongoing conversation with myself about how the information helped interpret things in my own organization, prompted ideas for projects, led me to identify new potential partners for projects, etc. This may have been helped along by knowing the conference proceedings will be published eventually (hint, hint for those of you not able to be there – worth watching for!) but somehow things came together in ways they don’t always. I do owe a small disclaimer here that I was on the planning committee but my role was small but, in the end, I think the speakers and attendees created the environment, not the planners.
Oh, and, if I ever see Plenary Speaker Chancellor John Lombardi of University of Massachusetts-Amherst speaking at another conference I’ll be waiting in line for that session. I can’t say I agreed with everything he said but he has me thinking really deeply about core issues – including: what is a research library, is a learning commons more than a high-tech study hall, and does user satisfaction data help us compete for resources?
New ideas. Deep thoughts. Satisfactory outcomes. Plus, a new item on my to-do list: plan to attend the next Library Assessment Conference in Seattle in late summer 2008.