New Jersey Chapter
By Alyssa Valenti, Raritan Valley Community College
What We’ve Learned: Best Practices for Online Conferences from the Florida Chapter of ACRL
By Nancy Schuler & Alyssa Koclanes, Eckerd College
Most likely, you have attended more than one virtual conference this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A review of ACRL chapter websites shows that of the 43 ACRL Chapters, 27 had virtual conferences and 9 were cancelled or postponed. Only one chapter had an in-person conference in 2020, but it was in January prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. As vaccinations become more widely available and in-person classes return to our institutions, many chapters are deciding what their 2021 conference will look like. To date, 24 chapters have published announcements for virtual conferences, 5 chapters plan to meet in-person, and 2 have plans for a hybrid option. Virtual conferences may be here to stay as this past year has pushed us to adapt and find new ways to accomplish our chapter goals.
The Florida Chapter of the Association for College and Research Libraries (FACRL) 2020 conference was held, for the first time, online on October 16th, 2020. The conference focused on the relevant theme of Demonstrating the Value of Academic Libraries during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The day-long virtual conference included twelve live presentations presented in three tracks (Administration, Instruction, and Outreach), an interactive poster presentation, lightning round session, and breakout sessions to end the day. A total of 162 attendees participated in the conference, almost double what could be accommodated in-person.
As we planned for the Chapter’s first virtual conference, we knew some things would be simplified while new challenges would be faced with the virtual environment. As many ACRL chapters and other library professional organizations face another year of virtual conferences in this “new normal,” we offer the following best practices for planning and implementing a successful virtual conference.
Outgoing FACRL Chapter president, Alyssa Koclanes, shares the following sentiment regarding the success of the conference, "I was very impressed with how easily the conference went with concurrent sessions in the virtual environment as it was our first time planning a virtual conference using Zoom. There was a high level of engagement and participation from attendees throughout the day and the presenters adapted very well to presenting in the virtual environment."
As ACRL chapters determine what the “new normal” means for future conferences and chapter events, we hope these best practices provide everyone with a blueprint for successful conferences this fall and beyond.
Chapters Council Roster
Alison Marie Larsen
Lisa T. Nickel
Eric Anthony Edwards
Carrie E. Dunham-LaGree