On the 10th June I attended the third West Midlands Librarians as Teachers conference. Once again the CILIP West Midlands Member Network committee I sit on worked together with the CILIP Academic and Research Libraries Group (West Midlands) committee (ARLG) to organise the event. This is the second time I have personally been involved in organising the conference (see my post from LAT 2013) and it felt like a very different experience from last time. This is possibly to do with the fact I had previously been involved in organising an event like this, so I knew what to expect and what I could offer as my contribution to the organising team.
We decided early on against having a separate event website this time and posted all of our promotional information to the CILIP Event page, as the page template meant we could include all of the information we wanted to, including Speaker information and an incorporated booking form. The main downside for this was all of the information was on one long page, but it meant we had the CILIP Branding etc on the page. The URL for it was long, so I used a URL Shortener which I edited to be easier to remember (bit.ly/lat2015). I think this was important when advertising the event as easy to remember URLs make things easier on potential attendees. This will also make things a little harder to make post event information such as slides and photos easily available, but we would be hosting these on sites such as Slideshare and Flickr anyway as they are available to a wider audience that way. I think a few blog/social media posts to the ARLG and CILIP West Midlands Member Network members as well as an email to our delegates should be sufficient to kick start the promotion of these resources. [During the run up to the event CILIP’s web team were doing a survey about the website – I have suggested the ability to create event micro-sites for big events, and apparently I wasn’t the only one!]
The live tweeting went well. LAT2013 was my first attempt at doing this and I think I struggled a bit with it, but I am more experienced now and a few people commented that I seemed to do it really well! These two people both said it was their first attempt at live tweeting, so maybe it looked more impressive to them than it was! The Hashtag for the event was #LATAston – due to hosting the conference at Conference Aston – we’d intended to use LAT2015 but this was used in America a few months before our conference! (I think this would probably be the same people that used LAT2013 a week or so after our last conference – it caused me some confusion doing the Storify, but thankfully didn’t confuse any other people! For the LATAston Storify visit Jess Haigh’s – she beat me to it!
This year the main difference we had was the decision very early on to pay for a conference room, rather than hunt around for free venues in Libraries. We used the biggest room we could find in 2013 and felt a bit squeezed in. This time we booked Conference Aston, in Birmingham. We felt it was easy to get to, being in Central Birmingham, and while the room costs weren’t cheap we knew we wanted to try and at least match the 65 delegates we had in 2013, if not get it a bit higher! I feel like paying for a room was worth it: The Conference centre itself was very impressive, with all the mod-cons (like coffee machines!) and top notch help from all of the staff, including Bill who helped us with all the AV set up at the start and end of the day. The food was fantastic as well – no dry/soggy sandwiches in sight! We had two ‘light’ options: soup and Jacket potatoes (with a choice of two fillings!) and three main course options, as well as two options for dessert – I went with the Lemon and Polenta cake! Yum!
We optimistically booked a room for 75-120 people, thinking if we had 75 then at least we would have some elbow space! We briefly discussed aiming for 100 attendees – I don’t know about the other organisers but to me this felt like a hard target to reach. When we hit the 65 delegates mark the bookings slowed down a little so I thought I had hit the mark. However we decided we had time before we had to confirm the number of attendees with conference centre so we kept accepting bookings – by the time we closed the bookings we had over 100 people booked in. We did accept a few after the closing date, as it was only a couple, but all in all I feel that this worked very well for us, and I’m certainly happy to have been proven wrong regarding the number of attendees we would get!
The official feedback is still being processed, but speaking to people at the conference yesterday and looking at the tweets I saw yesterday evening it looks like everyone enjoyed it and had a good time! I’ll write a separate post about my reflections of the content, but I can say for certain that I will be doing this again in the future, and I can’t think of anything at the moment that I would do differently.
Sorry for not posting this sooner – I’ve had a busy few weeks and didn’t get around to proof-reading the post!