Changing Conferences

In a previous post, I mentioned that ShipIndex is trying a bunch of new paths. One of those is to change the conferences I attend. Back at the old company I went to library conferences, library conferences, and library conferences. (And there are a lot of those…) In fact, ALA Midwinter is starting off today, and it’ll be the first ALA Annual or Midwinter show I haven’t attended in about 15 years. Now, though, I’ve added genealogy and maritime history conferences to the mix. I’ve attended two National Genealogical Society conferences, in Salt Lake City and in Charleston, SC, and I’ve attended a range of maritime history conferences and one or two maritime museum conferences. (Sometimes they’re combined.)

Of these, library conferences are far and away the most expensive. These are huge productions that cost a fortune for everything. (Internet access through the local providers at PLA, below, starts at a gut-reaming $885, for instance.) While I think that ShipIndex is an incredibly valuable tool for academic libraries (in supporting historians of all stripes) and for public libraries (in supporting genealogists), I apparently haven’t succeeded in getting my message across to librarians. In my career as a librarian and as a library vendor, I’ve attended every ALA Annual and Midwinter conference since about 1997, as well as every ACRL conference since then, plus a bunch of NASIG, UKSG, Charleston, and other conferences. The big ALA shows cost me the most, and I don’t have much to show for them, so this January will be a big change for me: I won’t be going to ALA Midwinter for the first time in a very long time.

There’s much more to the conferences than just meeting with librarians; meeting with other vendors is incredibly valuable, as is seeing what else is happening in the library world, and also just getting together with long-time friends. But the cost is too great, so I’m going to try a different path. I think that, from now on, I’ll focus on attending the ACRL and PLA conferences every other year (they alternate; last year was ACRL, this year is PLA), and attend more of the other conferences, as time allows.

I’m going to give a try at a big genealogy conference in London next month, to bring to Europe. Actually, I already have a lot of European (and ANZ) subscribers, which is one reason why I think this will be so good. I’m actively preparing for attending the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE 2012 conference, and it’s certainly adding a bunch of wrinkles.

At the moment, I’m trying to get personal liability insurance for my very modest booth at the show. This is a requirement for exhibiting at WDYTYALive, but I’ve never had to do that before for shows in the US. The trick is that UK insurance agents don’t want to offer coverage because I’m based in the US, and US agents don’t want to offer coverage for the event because it takes place outside the US. I honestly don’t know how this will get resolved, but I guess it’s just one of the challenges associated with going outside your comfort zone.

If you’re in the London area during WDYTYALive, please come visit the stand (311). And if you want a free pass to the conference, send me an email – I think I’ll have a few.

The next conference after WDYTYALive will be a library conference, though – the Public Library Association conference in Philadelphia, in March. Then, in May, I’ll attend the National Genealogical Society conference in Cincinnati. That should be appropriate; I have family in Cincinnati, as that’s where my dad grew up, and he has nephews and family there. If you’ll attend either of those shows, please let me know, and come by to say hello.

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