Monday, November 08, 2010

ALAO 2010: Venue Overview

The 36th Annual ALAO Conference, Academic Libraries: Now and Tomorrow was held October 29, 2010. This year’s location was the Columbus Crowne Plaza North conveniently located (in my opinion) near I-71 and I-270; interestingly enough it was the same exit from I-71 I take to go to our AU Columbus Center. Free parking was available and even arriving later than expected I was able to find something quickly.

I’ve been on previous ALAO program committee’s and tend to look at the conference hotel differently than some attendees; that said, generally speaking, I liked the venue. Registration was held in what appeared to be the coat check-in area. Even though I walked past it twice, it was advantageous not to trip over the tables or other assorted registration necessities. Plus this provided committee and staff members a place to call home during the conference (it’s important). The ballroom, used for breakfast, the ALAO business meeting and key note address, lunch, and poster sessions worked well. I was able to see the screens, hear the people talking, and plenty of room was available for seating. There appeared to be enough room for poster presenters and their audience and some presenters kept their posters available for those perusing the area after the designated poster time. The ballroom remained open during the afternoon providing an area for informal meetings if desired.

A smattering of attendees used their laptops in the ballroom; mine never left its case, so I am unsure of the quality of wireless offered. After attending Computers In Libraries, where areas are specifically set up for users (tables and power access), balancing my computer on my lap with the conference program and other freebies was not a priority. I took notes in the more traditional manner and am cobbling them together for this series of posts. Of course, had a used my netbook these posts would have been published in a more timely manner.

One of the most difficult tasks performed by the conference planning committee is deciding what session to put in what room; one room was large (Buckeye room, fabulous), several rooms were medium in size (two small rooms together), and other rooms were small. It is an art, not a science, to place the right session in the right room and there is no guarantee what will be the hot topic at any given time. As a result, there were a couple of overcrowded rooms and several emptier options for each session. It can’t be helped. However, hallway traffic outside of the rooms was particularly abysmal as we waited in line to traverse in and out of break-out rooms.

Breakfast had a nice assortment of goodies, lunch was particularly tasty with cheesecake for dessert, and the afternoon snack had something for everyone. All in all things ran very smoothly and the venue, with a lot of help from the program committee, provided a nice attendee experience.

No comments: