21:3 (2006:09) 21st Conference: Brainstorming SessionSeptember 3, 2006 at 5:48 pm | Posted in Brainstorming, Conference Reports | Leave a comment
Notes compiled by Elizabeth Parang, NASIG Secretary
The 2006 brainstorming session was held in the dining area and included an active discussion for the entire hour.
The announced topic was, “Should NASIG solicit corporate support for some programs?” Would this make NASIG a more valuable conference to our vendor/publisher constituents (and possibly attract new members as well)? There are two distinct aspects to consider in this discussion: 1) How to increase publisher/vendor membership and involvement in the organization; and 2) How to generate revenue for NASIG.
The session was moderated by Marilyn Geller who opened the session by indicating three questions for discussion: What are the best ways to involve our members from the commercial sector of the serials community? What’s missing? Why do publishers come?
An attendee affiliated with a publisher commented that exhibits would spoil the atmosphere. At an exhibit, a person is tied down; at this conference there is a more relaxed, informal conversation.
Geller inquired if there were ways to encourage this informal conversation. Another publisher-affiliated person replied he had attended last year and came back because of last year’s preconference. He felt the conference was very constructive because it included all three parts of the serials community. The main programs are relevant to publishers. NASIG could promote the structure of the conference as seminars to publishers. More advertising is needed.
A new attendee (library-based) suggested holding breakout sessions billed as “Meet a publisher,” “Meet a vendor,” or organizing a breakfast/lunch where library-based attendees could share a table with a publisher or vendor. He would like to see some structure but still keep it very informal.
A vendor representative commented that he listens to NPR and doesn’t find the sponsor’s blurbs at the end of programs offensive. NASIG could consider something similar. He felt one reason publishers don’t come is because NASIG has been a bit draconian with them, telling them what not to say, having a whole bunch of rules that treat them like second-class citizens. He hates the idea of exhibits; feels like a colleague without them; the exhibit table is a barrier. He would prefer the opportunity to sponsor a speaker, AV costs, or a breakfast with a sign stating who sponsored the event/service. Another possibility would be to create a producers and providers subdivision with its own guidance and give them a block of time to program as they wished. Publishers and vendors need to be valued as more than a source of money.
Geller summed this up as two ideas: an informal network and special produce/provider-created programming.
Another publisher representative stated he had noticed the difference between the Charleston Conference and NASIG was that selectors attended the
Charleston conference. NASIG should reach out to collection development folks because their attendance would attract publishers. Personal phone calls from publisher attendees to other publishers could help. He had presented twice at NASIG and feels publishers can learn from library-based attendees.
A community college librarian commented publishers should be aware that some librarians who do not have the title “acquisitions librarians” still do purchasing.
A library-based attendee stated that a NASIG goal is to involve more paraprofessionals and people starting out who have problems with costs. If companies sponsored meals and cut the cost of the conference, more people would come.
An ARL librarian stated she didn’t like the idea of publishers ‘co-opting’ part of the program. A lunchtime user group could be organized by a publisher.
A vendor representative stated she loved the NPR analogy and sponsor statement idea. She wondered why publishers/vendors are forbidden to state the name of their company but a library-based presenter can get away with mentioning the name of a vendor multiple times in a presentation.
A paraprofessional attendee commented that she does professional work at an institution and thought NASIG could encourage more paraprofessionals to come by getting librarians to urge their institutions to share travel monies with paraprofessionals. She loved the statement that the publishers/vendors are colleagues and don’t want to be on the other side of the table.
Geller noted that NASIG needs to stretch in all directions.
A senior editor reported he was told that NASIG is not like normal conferences. He did find opportunities to talk with many people and felt that publishers and vendors do have a role in NASIG. He feels the sessions currently offered are of interest to all.
Another attendee stated his first involvement with NASIG was at the suggestion of a vendor who enjoyed the
collegial nature of NASIG. He likes the idea of ‘in-kind’ sponsorship and feels that publisher interaction is very instructional. His institution feels it’s important to have someone attend NASIG.
It was suggested that the publishers that do attend NASIG might invite one publishing colleague to increase attendance from the publishing sector.
Another library-based attendee noted the Program Planning Committee should include publishers and vendors. She disliked the idea of a separate group and felt all should be involved in the solicitation of ideas.
Geller noted that NASIG does try to have publishers and vendors on all committees but gets few volunteers. Although there are always vendors on PPC, the group doesn’t always get proposals from vendors and publishers.
Another attendee stated she realized it’s hard to recruit people but PPC needs to call publishers and ask them to submit proposals, engage in proactive campaigning. She thought there should be some more formal way to ensure the NASIG Board always includes a publisher and a vendor.
A library-based worker noted she enjoyed eating with publishers at Dine-Arounds. In addition to program involvement, the Membership Development Committee needs to examine the idea that publishers are treated as second-class citizens.
Geller noted that there was good representation at the conference among subscription vendors but few ILS vendors were present. Why aren’t those people coming?
An attendee commented that she does everything at her library. She has attended five NASIG conferences and would like to meet some publishers she sees on the list of attendees. However, she often never actually sees them at any presentations she attends. She would like a better opportunity to meet them because she values personal relationships but finds it hard to establish them with some large publishers.
A subscription vendor representative noted that when NASIG was founded, it didn’t have exhibits in order for everyone to be equal. At that time major publishers sent out flyers and librarians visited publishers at ALA. Everyone needs to talk to publishers and vendors.
A publisher wanted to say thank you for the forum. She supports the idea of sponsorship similar to NPR. She likes the fact-to-face contact at NASIG. She is here to learn and engage and avoids sales talk. She likes to share meals and participate in events. She would like to see a tasteful way to support the conference such as providing pens or lanyards. She agrees that the potential for disaster canceling a conference is a problem for NASIG.
Geller asked for a show of hands on the questions “Should NASIG have exhibits?”, and those attending were overwhelmingly against it.
Someone suggested sponsorship of the late night social as an opportunity.
An attendee indicated she was on the board of several non-profits that have newsletter sponsors and felt that not having sponsorships was unusual.
Another noted that if you accept we are colleagues, he had difficulty in accepting that vendors and publishers are “commercial.” He didn’t realize how many publishers were attending the conference and found it hard to meet them.
Geller commented that diversity is about acknowledging our differences and accepting them. We accept them but need to acknowledge them.
A vendor representative stated that on paper NASIG is a serials organization but in reality it is a library organization where publishers and vendors are welcome guests. If it’s a library organization where outsiders are welcome to take part, that’s one thing. A natural tension exists between profit and non-profit. If NASIG is embracing all serials people, it must accept all.
Someone else stated he had never viewed vendors and publishers as guest but as colleagues. We need to describe who we are in a different way. He’s always seen NASIG as a group of people working in serials.
Someone remembered attending a program at the
San Antonio conference where a librarian and a vendor both talked about a problem. She would like to see more of that type of programming.
UKSG has a better inclusion of vendors and NASIG could learn from them. Ask publishers who attend UKSG why they attend UKSG and not NASIG.
Provide more opportunities for publisher/vendors to be visible during the conference.
It was suggested that NASIG might need designated slots on the Executive Board for publishers/vendors.
A librarian who has been to every NASIG felt she heard there is a real comfort level with some sponsorship but we need to also be comfortable with giving publishers and vendors more control.
Geller wrapped up by stating a community is measured by how the majority treats its minority. Today’s session provided ideas for informal networking plus more formal and structured ideas. No doubt we will have something new in next year’s conference.