[Web4lib] Attending/Presenting at conferences in difficult times / Dissolution of Reference

K.G. Schneider kgs at bluehighways.com
Wed Feb 10 11:40:09 EST 2010

Once upon a time I had a citation for a factoid that 85% of
research-related information transfer is informal. I suppose I could
look it up again, but my experience holds it to be true, so I'll run
with that. 

I do find value in some conference presentations, but I get even more
value from the many conversations I've had in hallways, coffeeshops,
overpriced exhibit-hall snack bars, overpriced hotel drinkin' bars,
restaurants, escalators, shuttle buses, hotel lobbies, vendor cocktail
hours, exhibit booths, and the cab or shuttle to and from the airport.
It is what I miss in "virtual conferences."  

There's nothing wrong with a book or article, but dollar for dollar, a
good conference is a far better value for quickly gaining knowledge in
emerging library services and technologies, and peer engagement is the
very best form of continuing education. At least that's one of MY core
values. If I had a choice between $1000 in books and a conference line
item, I'd go for the latter each time. 

To answer John's original question, I would imagine that people who
value conferences are hoarding their conference pennies to make them go
as far as possible; airfares did not decline with the rest of the
economy, and the U.S. dollar is a bit puny these days. I hope that
improves, because international engagement is also invaluable. I look
back on my 16 days in Oz two years ago as one of the best learning
experiences in over two decades of library work. 

K. G. Schneider

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