Speaking of Seattle . . .

While you’re planning your ACRL travel – or if you’re still on the fence about it – here’s another event to consider. Radical Reference (“answers for those who question authority”) is planning a preconference unconference to be held on Thursday, March 12th on academic libraries and social justice, including programs and collections of an alternative bent.

An unconference is a relatively spontaneous and unengineered conference at which attendees share information and generate ideas, unfettered by a rigid schedule or high registration fees. Though this is a relatively new concept for libraries, something similar was organized for an ASIS&T regional conference in 2007 – InfoCamp Seattle. As described by Aaron Louie,

In the library and information science community, there are limited – and often cost-prohibitive – venues for social interaction and professional development. Our field is constantly evolving, and those without a substantial travel budget or professional education program are left behind . . .

. . . we didn’t need to look far for alternative conference models. In recent years, collaborative, open conferences have become increasingly popular. The common element is that the attendees create the content, usually day-by-day, at the conference. This species of conference is generally known as an “unconference” . . . our schedule would not be decided beforehand. No speakers or topics would be pre-selected. We would create a theme, invite the right people and let the attendees decide what they wanted to talk about. By design, it would be participatory and user-centered, encouraging input, discussion and debate from everyone who attended.

Sounds like an intriguing addition and/or alternative to the traditional library conference.

About Barbara Fister

I'm an academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like all librarians at our small, liberal arts institution I am involved in reference, collection development, and shared management of the library. My area of specialization is instruction, with research interests also in media literacy, popular literacy, publishing, and assessment.

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