Friday, February 22, 2008

Yes, but is it sustainable?

Right from the start we've said we want this conference to be as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible. After all, if that NZ TV icon Shortland Street can do Carbon Zero why can't we?

We've discussed all sorts of things - carbon credits, virtual attendance, reducing paper use....but they really only cover some of the things that make for a sustainable conference. We have to think wider than just environmental concerns. What about the people involved? How do we ensure that the LIANZA Conference can be run regularly?

Here are my top five.

1. Be a member of LIANZA
LIANZA itself has been around for a long time. Founded in 1910 its goal is to "...promote libraries and information, to foster the profession and to provide professional leadership. " The number of LIANZA members is a good indication of how many people would potentially attend a conference about library and information services.

2. Talk to exhibitors
Ask them how they think they could help you. If they're busy then leave a note with contact details so they can block out a time to talk to you during conference. This is the one of the few times you'll be able to talk to a number of vendors easily in a short period of time in a reasonably relaxed atmosphere. Vendors work with us to help us provide our services to our customers. They sponsor conference and support the work we do. We have to support them too.

3. Present a paper or encourage others to
A conference is only as good as the content it serves up. If something excites you then it's likely to excite others as well. Have you conducted some research that could be shared with a wider audience? Bring it to conference. Encourage colleagues to present. In the February "Library Life" there is a Soapbox article that talks about NZ librarians doing great work only no-one knows because they don't tell anyone. Here is your chance to contribute to improving library and information services in New Zealand.

4. Volunteer on the Conference committee
Most of the people who work to bring you conference are volunteers. They fit conference work in and around their day job (and kudos to the organisations who allow them to.) I'm finding it great fun as well as professionally very interesting. Without volunteers conference would not happen.

5. Lobby to attend conference then do something with the information you hear, see, experience
This should probably be number one on the list because without attendees conference certainly wouldn't be sustainable.
In order to increase your chances of attending let your funder/manager etc know what you're hoping to get out of conference and what you expect to bring back to your organisation. Do more than just report back; implement something.

Can you think of any more points that should be on this list?


Judi K said...

I haven't seen any discussion on environmental sustainability for the conference and I'd be interested in seeing the options discussed.

Lisa said...

I think attacking the conference bag mentality of "what can we possibly stuff in here" and replacing it with an area where people can take brochures, magnets etc that interest them would be a a good start

PalmySpen said...

Perhaps the best thing we can do to ensure the future of conferences is to get new delegates. Encourage them to come and catch the LIANZA Conference 'bug'

Bindy said...

As part of considering sustainability and affording virtual presence at conference have you considered making attendance and/or presentation available utilising advanced video conferencing technologies via the KAREN network? Access nodes are sited in most main centres. Desktop participation is rapidly improving. National Library is a KAREN partner.

poropitia outside the box said...

Great comments!
Judi - thanks for the suggestion. I've got some information from Sky City about their environmental efforts which I'll be posting about later this week. (hopefully!)
Lisa - great idea. I'll pass it to Logistics and Sponsorship. It will be a case of balancing our commitments to them with, um, less 'stuff'.
palmyspen - yes! the new comers event is our opportunity to help them make the most of conference. the social team have some ideas about that...
bindy - yes, we have considered virtual attendance and thanks for the suggestion of KAREN. we're still working out how it might be achieved so any advice is gratefully received.

Penny said...

Organic sustainable food perhaps?

wendymac said...

I quite agree with Lisa. At the recent learning@schools conference in Rotorua they did away with conference bags altogether. All the exhibitor material was provided on a CD with the conference handbook.