Member Survey on Future Conferences Results Published

Gaz Johnson's picture
By: 
Gareth J Johnson

The results of the recent survey of the membership, concerning the shape, content and organisation of future conferences have been made available to all.

In late 2021 a survey was distributed to all library staff at Collaboration member organisations. This online survey sought to gather input and opinions with respect to future conferences organised on behalf of the Collaborations and its membership, and would help to shape the plans of the organising committee. Over the five week period (Nov-Dec ’21) when the survey was live, 44 respondents representing 17 of the total institutional members took the time to participate. The survey itself had been developed and was overseen by the Collaboration Officer, on behalf of the Conference Group’s planning committee.

Results

>The report created from this survey's results has now been made publicly available.

In the report it is clear that half of all the respondents had never attended a previous Collaboration conference. This was an exciting outcome, as it offered a chance to explore insights into future events with a portion of the membership whose desires had not previously been well-represented within conference planning activities. For most non-attendees the biggest obstacle or disincentive they had faced was clearly the specific dates on which past conferences had been held. This demonstrated the importance of continuing the policy of setting conference dates which offer attendance to the greatest number of potential delegates.

Conversely, for those delegates and speakers who had attended previous conferences, questions of what had attracted them to become involved were asked. For speakers it was clear how the most appealing elements included the event themes and potential audience composition. For delegates though the overall theme was less critical, but rather for them the specific speakers on offer and topics addressed within individual sessions were far more crucial for attendance.

Interestingly, when considering keynote speakers those drawn directly from the higher educational library sector remained the principal preference for most respondents. In this area, academics or senior institutional managers, like vice and pro-vice chancellors, were also seen to be fine and engaging choices.

Further questions explored with respondents the format for future conferences which they found the most desirable. While physical or mixed online-physical hybrid events were both more favoured, online events still received a broad range of support within the survey. Nevertheless, individual comments did indicate a dimidiation of satisfaction with online-only events or a focus on responses to COVID. There was also a general highlighting of the importance in maintaining effective networking within any future conference.

Implications

In many respects the report’s findings support the importance the Collaboration places on offering an appropriately broadly themed annual conference which provides access to a diverse range of subjects and speakers. The general tone of comments from respondents was positive and constructive, and it is clear there is considerable interest in both the hosting of an event alongside a desire to attend future events.

The full report and survey results, which have already been presented to the Conference Group and Steering Group members for consideration and information, included a range of recommendations to help better shape future events to meet members’ needs in 2022, 2023 and beyond. These included aspects such as: emphasising speakers and content strongly in marketing, greater granularity in terms of speaker opportunities within the themes, and supporting event theme alignment with sector developments and member needs.

Acknowledgements

The Conference Group thanks all those who participated in this survey, and hope to continue discussions with them at and following future events.

Further Information

More details on the plans for Conference 2022, and past events, can be found on the Conference Group pages or by contacting the group chair, Deborah Munro (D.Munro@bham.ac.uk) directly.

Alternatively, for more information on this report, or any activities across the Collaboration, please contact the Executive Officer, Dr Gareth J Johnson (mercianlibrariescollaboration@gmail.com).