The number of session proposals submitted for the 2014 Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) conference was up 95 percent compared with last year, and participation in the community voting process to select sessions rose from about 450 voters for the 2013 conference, to more than 700 for the 2014 show.
“There was a huge uptick in interest from people wanting to present. We were pleasantly surprised,” said Bonnie Tijerina, Head of Electronic Resources and Serials for Harvard University Library, and founder of the ER&L conference and organization.
“Eight years ago, I saw a need in the profession for librarians to come together to talk about the changes that we are making as we transition from a more print-focused to a more electronic-focused environment,” said Tijerina. She had anticipated that the gathering might happen “once or twice.” Instead, the conference has continued to gain traction, growing from 150 attendees in 2006 to over 550 in 2013.
“Obviously, [they are] topics that people still want to talk about…. Often, libraries are still struggling with organizational changes, the different models, how we evaluate and analyze our return on investment for e-content,” she said. “There’s a lot more data for e-resources than print, so there’s a lot of new conversations that have come up in the past 10 years or so [about] new ways of evaluating, acquiring, and managing e-content.”
During last month’s community voting process, sessions that focused on making usage data meaningful were particularly popular, as well as sessions on discovery and usability testing, and discovery tools and e-resource workflows. Tijerina recently hosted “Data Driven Libraries,” a three-part LJ webcast series that touched on some of these topics as well.
Presentations at the 2014 show will fall into eight tracks: managing e-resources and licensing; collection development and assessment; organizational strategies; external relationships; user experience; scholarly communication; library as publisher; and emerging technologies and trends. The goal is to offer insights into all parts of the e-resource life cycle, including product evaluation, negotiating with vendors, technical maintenance, reference and instruction, and discoverablity, Tijerina said.
“We have more content than we’ve ever had before,” she added. “There will also be more informal activities that will allow attendees to actively participate—lightning talks, round tables, and informal times to engage with others who are attending..”
ER&L is finalizing a list of confirmed sessions, and will release a schedule shortly after the holidays. The conference is scheduled to take place in Austin, TX, March 16-19, 2014, following the annual South by Southwest Interactive festival.