Twelve Ways To Improve The CLA Conference

Am I ever going to do a post where I'm happy about something instead of suggesting how to change and improve it?  (Probably not…) 

Obviously these suggestions come heavily from the perspective of a student and a first-time CLA attendee.

Twelve Ways To Improve The CLA Conference
1. Don't charge students to attend

2. Don't have an $18 per person first-timer's breakfast.  Maybe an $8 one at a nearby restaurant with a private room would work better and have more people out?

3. Have free wireless internet available at the conference site

4. Make video (preferably – or audio or text) streams of all presentations (as well as any powerpoint slides and handouts) available on the CLA web site.  Ideally, this information would be made available to anyone but if you had to limit it, a simple password system for registered conference participants (or all CLA members) would suffice.

5. Have a first-timers-only mixer early in the week so students get a chance to meet people from across Canada in the same situation as themselves.  Let people in for free instead of charging $18 to attend.  Don't have it in a venue (like a high-end hotel) that's going to charge $7 for a beer and $4 for cranberry juice either (that's one's for Michelle Lake.)

6. Send out a first-timer's package that pulls all the most relevant information from the conference program along with tips and tricks about negotiating a conference like this.  A lot of my fellow attendees expressed disappointment with their experience and I think this is partly due to the overwhelming nature of a conference like this.  I know I missed a lot in the conference program and I'm sure many other people did as well. 

7.  Include a list of registered conference participants in each person's registration package (may have privacy implications but I've seen it done and always appreciated it if I met someone and wanted to contact them at a later date.)

8.  This is something we tried to do at the WGA and SPG with our conferences.  Why not partner with local tourist attractions to host some of the events?  Instead of having the opening keynote at the hotel, imagine how memorable it would have been to have it at the Museum of Civilization or even on Parliament Hill? 

9. Fairly minor but listing not only the start point but the end point for the pub crawl in the program would have been helpful for those wishing to join the revellers later.  (The retired children's librarian I had a drink with the first night wanted to join the pub crawl after the awards ceremony but didn't know where we'd be for instance.)

10. My classmate, Paul hit the nail on the head.  No Elvis.  No Marilyn.  No clowns.  If you need to waste money on wandering entertainment (I mean, they weren't even performing), why not have some literary characters or famous librarians depicted?

11. Spend more money on the lunches and have a WAY better selection than two kinds of crappy wraps as the only choices (seriously, no salad, no pasta, no dessert, no juice.)  

12. Make sure I win a door prize next time!

Comments 3

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    interesting list….did you do the same for OLA? because I'd like to see that one.
    I've never been to a CLA conference and can't say I'd see it as worth my while, especially not compared to OLA (but I guess that could change if I was a librarian outside of Ontario)

    Posted 23 Jun 2006 at 3:43 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    I only got to a day and a half of OLA (if that) so I didn't get as much of the full spectrum as I did at CLA. So I can't think of anything I'd suggest in way of improvements – it was a pretty crazy day and a half, I went to mostly good sessions, I really enjoyed the reception (even though I didn't know anyone but meeting you and some other people was great) and what else did I do? I think I missed the trade show completely which was too bad but unavoidable with my school schedule.
    A lot of people say they like OLA better and I can see that. I guess it depends on what you're looking for – CLA seems to be more about the big topic and national issues (obviously) while OLA is perhaps a bit more practical in its focus. Have you done CLA before? If so, what's your take on it and how it compares to OLA?

    Posted 24 Jun 2006 at 4:51 am
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    I guess I've heard similar things – that CLA is more issue oriented, though OLA does strive to have a mix of issue oriented and practical sessions.
    I've never made it to CLA because this year was the closest it's been to me geographically, but it's still damn expensive – work already paid for my OLA membership and for half the time I spent at OLA, so I didn't think they'd paid the $ for CLA too. Not to mention that a library friend invited me up this week for Canada day, and well Ottawa for Canada day just seems cooler than Ottawa for CLA :p
    Maybe next year I'll save up enough $ to go – I do want to experience it at least once.

    Posted 24 Jun 2006 at 10:49 pm

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