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Valerie Hawkins (staff)'s picture

What Does Virtual Annual Look Like to You?

Be sure to read and provide any comments or feedback to Jenny Levine's Marginalia Blog post --

What Does Virtual Annual Look Like to You?

For the first time this year,  “big ALA” experimented with offering a virtual conference component of its Annual Conference. While some of the divisions have done this in the past (ACRL, PLA) and AASL is currently running a parallel virtual event, this was the first time we’d tried this for the monster, “big kahuna” Annual Conference.

While you may be thinking about MidWinter because it’s just around the corner, we’re thinking about Annual, so the Conference Planning Committee has already started talking about how to improve next year’s virtual Annual. We have a three-year contract with Learning Times, so that will be the platform, but many of the other pieces are up in the air at this point, which makes it a good time to ask for some input.

We can’t promise anything at this point, but what’s your wishlist? There are already some “givens,” but building a structure around them, what would you like to see? Here are just a few of the questions we have, but feel free to give us feedback around other issues, too.

  • We can’t do this for free, not if we want to offer a quality, stable video feed. Keep in mind, though, that our members do tend to stream some of the more popular sessions, such as Top Tech Trends, and that will continue. Which sessions are you okay with as volunteer streams versus quality feeds?
  • We can’t stream the keynotes because the speakers don’t give us permission, and in fact, they usually forbid it. Otherwise, though, what types of sessions do you want to participate in remotely?
  • What does “participate in remotely” mean to you?
  • Where are the price points that fit? Are there tiers or does one-size-fits-all work in this type of situation?
  • Where can we add value to improve your virtual conference experience? Are you more interested in just sessions, or do you want virtual hallways, networking opportunities, and other comparable experiences, too? If it’s the latter, what do they look like?
  • If you’ve seen this done well somewhere else, we’d love to hear about it. Just give us a URL and a description of what you liked about it.

This is your chance to give us input to help shape the future of virtual ALA conferences, so please share your thoughts!


Fiona Bradley's picture

Volunteer streams are improving all the time, however links need to be posted somewhere central so that they are more easily found (not just five minutes before start time on Twitter), and I would also love it if audio streams were provided. Video uses a very large amount of bandwidth and audio may make the streams a little more accessible.

Sessions I'd like to see available remotely - presidents' sessions from each Division and Round Table (a big ask!), LITA Bigwig and Top Tech Trends (though both have been available the past two years)

Participating remotely to me means being able to follow a discussion with someone who is in the room via Twitter, or watching a video/listening to audio and participating in a chat alongside the content as it happens. I don't expect to be able to view content after the session is over in an archived format (see point below)

I do expect archived content or a platform to be available on a charged basis, for example to organisations who want to stream part of the conference for staff, but there should be options to participate in an ad-hoc way through live volunteer streams, Twitter, chat etc and these are my preference.

I don't need additional services like virtual hallways.

Thanks for asking!

Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

Thanks, Fiona. I really appreciate you sharing your feedback across sites. :)  We're definitely going to talk more internally about the various ideas that have been proposed.

Jenny