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And They Were There — Reports of Meetings: 2021 Charleston Conference

by | Mar 18, 2022 | 0 comments


Column Editors:  Ramune K. Kubilius  (Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)  and Sever Bordeianu  (Head, Print Resources Section, University Libraries, MSC05 3020, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM  87131-0001;  Phone: 505-277-2645;  Fax: 505-277-9813) 

Against the Grain v34#1

Column Editor’s Note:  Thanks to the Charleston Conference attendees, both those who attended on-site and virtually, who agreed to write brief reports highlighting and spotlighting their 2021 Charleston Conference experience.  The conference moved to a hybrid format in 2021 and that presented both opportunities as well as challenges for registered attendees.  All registrants had the opportunity to view recordings, to re-visit sessions they saw “live,” or to visit sessions they missed.  Without a doubt, there are more Charleston Conference sessions than there were volunteer reporters for Against the Grain, so the coverage is just a snapshot.  In 2021, reporters were invited to either provide general impressions on what caught their attention, or to select sessions on which they would report.

There are many ways to learn more about the 2021 conference.  Some presenters posted their slides and handouts in the online conference schedule.  Please visit the conference site, https://www.charleston-hub.com/the-charleston-conference/, and link to selected videos, interviews, as well as to blog reports written by Charleston Conference blogger, Donald Hawkins, https://www.charleston-hub.com/category/blogs/chsconfnotes/.  The 2021 Charleston Conference Proceedings will be published in 2022, in partnership with University of Michigan Press. — RKK


What I Learned After Viewing the 2021 Charleston Conference Posters

Reported by Selena Chau  (UC Santa Barbara) 

As a remote, first-time attendee to the hybrid Charleston Conference, reviewing the Event Orientation [https://2021charlestonconference.pathable.co/meetings/virtual/ss47zFhkScpzHNZJA] was time well spent. There were various ways to interact with poster presenters: attendees could post chat questions to be answered by the presenters or view posters and videos at any time during the conference. I had questions for presenters who were not at the Virtual Poster Presenter Q&A [https://2021charlestonconference.pathable.co/meetings/virtual/wxxsuLv8caXBL6sLQ] so I sent direct messages through the Pathable event platform to set up video meetings.  This helped recreate the face-to-face interaction of an in-person conference.

Although the topics were vast — diversity of collections, open access, scholarly communication — I focused on the collection strategies. An array of collection strategies were presented which I could appreciate in the context of another university library’s needs and policies. 

Michael Rodriguez used HathiTrust ETAS data to support additional eBook acquisitions. 

HathiTrust ETAS: Analyzing Usage, Developing Collections — Presented by Michael Rodriguez  (University of Connecticut) https://2021charlestonconference.pathable.co/meetings/virtual/mAy5vt5kAEgyB29ZG

Western University Library expanded from 2 to 12 EBA agreements in 2 years and agreed with attendees that coming up with initial EBA funding and keeping funds outside the EBA agreement for additional purchases were big challenges. 

Stepping up your EBA Game: Tips for Managing your EBA Program — Presented by Shawn Hendrikx  (Western University); David McCord  (Western University)  https://2021charlestonconference.pathable.co/meetings/virtual/Hzh8GQGQaixDCYPmX

Matthew Grannell’s poster highlights the time-consuming process of reviewing usage data and provides his choice to focus on SUSHI/COUNTER and the perspective of usage per vendor when communicating to administration.  One conference attendee suggested LC class would be more helpful for communicating with librarians, and I agree.

Analyzing Library Resources: Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze? — Presented by Matthew Grannell (Liberty University) https://2021charlestonconference.pathable.co/meetings/virtual/bMFjeZX4yJJ3YbDJ4

The posters on collection development strategies contribute to the ongoing conversation among librarians like me faced with meeting user needs with specific budget and policies.

What I Learned After Viewing the 2021 Charleston Conference Posters

Reported by Linnea Shieh  (Stanford University) 


The Virtual Poster Session is, in my opinion, the top opportunity for virtual conference attendees to engage in purposeful conversations with colleagues.  It was my favorite event of the conference and the most effective virtual networking event available at the 2021 conference.  However, even those who missed the chance to interact with their creators directly would benefit from a perusal through the posters.  I will highlight three whose authors I was grateful to meet and whose work I found inspiring and actionable.

First is “HathiTrust ETAS: Analyzing Usage, Developing Collections” out of UConn, which echoed another session I attended about the ETAS program’s impact on a participating campus.  Both commendably used ETAS not just as stopgap but as a collection development tool by purchasing available electronic versions of items that had gotten high ETAS use.  It is rare that we get usage data for a book before buying it.

HathiTrust ETAS: Analyzing Usage, Developing Collections — Presented by Michael Rodriguez (University of Connecticut)

2021 Charleston Library Conference: Virtual Meeting Details (pathable.co)

Next is “Incorporating Student Voices: Assessing Library Collections to Support Student Success” by a group from Illinois State who surveyed students and faculty on the benefits and challenges of using library-provided eBooks for coursework instead of traditional textbooks.  While it seems obvious that students would prefer to get books for free, their quotable comments highlighted how the offerings improved their lives in meaningful and nuanced ways, which could go a long way towards generating financial support for such a program. 

Incorporating Student Voices: Assessing Library Collections to Support Student Success — Presented by Mallory Jallas (Illinois State University); Julie Murphy (Illinois State University); Rachel Park (Illinois State University); Rachel Scott (Illinois State University); Anne Shelley (Illinois State University)

2021 Charleston Library Conference: Virtual Meeting Details (pathable.co)

Lastly, “Bespoke data gathering to meet your institution’s needs” from Notre Dame tackles an important step in creating institutional scholarly communication strategies: understanding where/how/with whom/at what expense your community is already publishing.  The authors create a succinct breakdown of strengths and weaknesses for data sources that track scholarly publishing.  Certainly, the final solution will require using multiple sources, but here we have insight on where to start.

Bespoke data gathering to meet your institution’s needs — Presented by Jessica Morales (University of Notre Dame); Monica Moore (University of Notre Dame)

2021 Charleston Library Conference: Virtual Meeting Details (pathable.co)

What I Learned After Visiting the 2021 Charleston Conference Vendor Showcase

Reported by Ramune K. Kubilius  (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine) 

Not everyone realizes that the vendor showcase is really an “add-on” to the Charleston Conference.  Vendor and publisher team members one meets in the showcase may be the same or may be different from those who register to stay in order to participate (and present) in the conference sessions.  It all depends on their role in the landscape, and how relevant the conference itself is to their role.  Being in the minority (as a 2021 on-site conference attendee), what was confirmed after the virtual 2020 conference, is that I appreciate the whimsical nature and value of in-person chats with vendors, as well as networking with scholarly publishing colleagues (publishers, vendors, and other librarians) that I encounter in the vendor showcase space.  At the 2020 conference (and for virtual attendees in 2021), visits and chats with vendors required a bit more planning and scheduling in the online realm.  It was fun to again be on-site in 2021, free to stop at various tables to learn about the latest products, even if they were slightly out of scope for my library.  Some casual exchanges yielded interesting tidbits, news to share with colleagues back home.  If anything, I reached a greater appreciation that many of the account managers and representatives really know their client bases (without referring to lists) and can often remember any special requests or inquiries they may have had from our institutions.  Sometimes those encounters occur outside of the traditional library communication loop (as is sometimes the case these days with special data set requests that go directly from academic faculty researchers to publishers and vendors, for example).  One publisher representative who stayed on for the conference later shared (in a walk down the street from venue a to venue b), that she enjoyed the 2021 vendor showcase because it was her first return to Charleston after an absence of several years.  To her, it was a networking opportunity with other colleagues on the showcase floor.  Confirmation that I indeed stopped at some “cutting edge” vendors’ tables occurred later in the conference, at the Charleston Premiers, when I saw what was presented there, and what products won the audience vote.

Charleston Conference blogger, Don Hawkins, was a virtual attendee and he reported on the vendor showcase in photos: 

Read more about Charleston Premiers in the blog posting of Don Hawkins:

Top 3 Things I Learned

Reported by Jacey Kepich  (Case Western Reserve University)

Charleston is more than acquisitions 

Having watched my institution’s acquisitions librarian make the annual “pilgrimage” to Charleston, I’d previously assumed the conference was relevant to a very small community.  But, as I discovered, session content covered broad ground, and the variety of presentation formats kept the agenda lively.  I particularly enjoyed Wednesday’s Hyde Park session, and I recognized the moderator as a fellow member of the Music Library Association.  I suspect we will continue to see more crossover of librarians attending conferences outside their “norm,” due both to changes in the field that require more versatility in our roles, as well as possibilities opened up by virtual attendance.

Hybrid conferences can be done well

My attendance at Charleston was made possible by the fact that the conference was offered in hybrid format.  Because of this, my institution could sponsor multiple remote registrations, much less than the cost of sending everyone in person. Did everything work seamlessly?  No.  But speedy tech assistance came through multiple times, and thanks to chat, participants were able to provide real-time feedback while awaiting updates.

No matter where we come from, we all love a good story

While there’s no doubt the publishing landscape includes complex topics concerning a variety of stakeholders (Controlled Digital Lending, anyone?), if there’s one common thread, it’s most likely a love of reading that introduced us to libraries.  By indication of the chat box, I imagine the audience listened with delight as Lila Bailey described how she became enchanted with C.S. Lewis’ Narnia as a child, courtesy of her local library.  As keynote speaker Paul Saffo reminded us, libraries encourage us to look deeply and look at the long-term.  They are full of stories, and it is the sharing and retelling of those stories that shape our culture and civilization.

My Three Favorite Concurrent Sessions/Presentations from the 2021 Charleston Conference (and why)

Reported by Lauren Byl  (University of Waterloo)

The Unusual Suspects — Collaborating for improvement with the pure OA publishers

Adrian Stanley (JMIR), Olaf Ernst (KU), Mathew Willmott (California Digital Library), Katrin Seyler (Univ Erlangen-Nuremberg)


This session did a good job highlighting one of the central issues of managing open access agreements — trying to create new workflows.  Katrin made it clear that the author is the central figure around which libraries, funders and publishers need to collaborate to create an architecture that “accommodates a multitude of needs from all sides.”  Mat (California Digital Library) and Adrian (JMIR) furthered this point by demonstrating how their organizations use OA Switchboard to ensure that the process is as simple as possible for everyone involved. Adrian raised an interesting point that libraries weren’t considered when designing JMIR’s original processes (no paywall to navigate);  this will be key for libraries to keep in mind as we think about what we need to communicate when working with fully OA publishers. 

Using Data to Drive Decisions: Libraries, Publishers and the New Open

Heather Staines (Delta Think), Adam Der (Max Planck Digital Library), Melissa Junior (Amer. Soc. Microbiology), Mathew Wilmott (OA Coll Strat, California Digital Library)


California Digital Library and Max Planck Digital Library shared helpful information about their use of data to understand which open access deals to enter and to understand how well those deals perform.  Mat and Adam discussed the importance of understanding where the researchers they represented published and talked about the impact this data can have on negotiations of new deals.  It’s key to keep in mind the amount of time and effort that goes into tracking and analyzing this data — Mat points out two FTE are needed to deliver the kind of analysis that happens at California Digital Library. 

Our Work Impacts Your Work: Outreach Strategies to Promote “Invisible” Library Operations

Rachelle McLain (Montana State University), Hannah McKelvey (Montana State University)


This was one of those sessions that had you leaving the conference wanting to make things happen at your library.  Even though the presenters described a difficulty getting attendance numbers as high as they’d like, the overall planning and implementation of a multi-module series on how library operations work was thought-provoking.  It made me think about what story we’d want to tell at our library and what institutional partners we could engage to help the message hit home.  

This concludes the General Reports we received from the 2021 Charleston Conference, however, watch for Session Reports from the 2021 Charleston Conference to begin appearing in upcoming issues of Against the Grain.  Presentation materials (PowerPoint slides, handouts, etc.) and recordings of most sessions are available to Conference Attendees on the Charleston Conference event site at https://2021charlestonconference.pathable.co/.  Or visit the Charleston Hub at https://www.charleston-hub.com/the-charleston-conference/. — KS


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