If you have never been to the Charleston Conference or are still trying to decide whether to attend, here are some old favorites of mine that may help you make a decision.
- The Vendor Showcase (often known as the Exhibit Hall) takes place on only one day (November 5 this year), which is a wise decision on the part of the organizers. Limiting the exhibits to a single day ensures that there will be no distractions for session attendees. The Showcase begins at 10:30 AM, and lunch is provided. The day is capped off by wine, cheese, and fruit, which appears at 4:30 PM. You definitely want to come to this!There are over 130 vendors exhibiting this year – so many that the Showcase has been expanded to the Gold Ballroom. That’s on the floor above the main exhibit space, so don’t forget to visit it as well. To entice you, expanded food and drinks will be available there.
- The Plenary Sessions are always excellent. On Thursday, they begin at 8 AM (yes, it’s early, but breakfast is provided) and end at approximately 11 AM. Then, after an intermission for Lively Lunches and Concurrent Sessions, they pick up again for an afternoon session from 4:30 to 6 PM. And if you still have energy after all those sessions, you can visit some Poster Sessions from 6 to about 7 PM, accompanied by a beverage and food from a Networking Happy Hour. (Friday’s schedule has slightly different times, so be sure to check the schedule first.)
- The Conference Reception on Thursday evening, held this year at the South Carolina Aquarium, is a perennial favorite. The setting is relaxed, the food features a variety of dishes from the local cuisine, and the aquatic exhibits are well worthwhile. (See my previous “What’s New” posting for details of the Open Mike and book signing at the Reception.) The Reception is another “don’t miss” event. (Suggestion: Even though transportation is provided, I have found it beneficial, weather permitting, to make the approximately 15-20 minute walk to and from the Reception to get some exercise after attending sessions all day.)
- On Saturday morning, the Plenary Session becomes the Charleston Premiers–a fast-paced series of 5-minute presentations by vendors (15 of them this year) describing their newest products and services. After that, a short plenary session follows before the Charleston Seminar starts at 12:15 PM. (Note: If you want a short break, there is a wonderful farmers’ market in the park across the street from the hotel. Just don’t forget to come back to the conference!)
- And last, but certainly not least (every time I hear someone say that, I wonder just what is least!), a major favorite is the City of Charleston. Don’t fail to walk around the historic area and see the antebellum houses, beautiful gardens, and the harbor. And be sure to visit some of the wonderful and outstanding restaurants as well.
I hope this gives you a taste of what to expect at Charleston. The Conference has been fine-tuned over many years of experience, and it is a significant event on the information industry calendar.
Don Hawkins blogs about conferences for Information Today and Against The Grain. He also maintains the Conference Calendar on the Information Today website and is the Editor of Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage, published by Information Today in 2013, and Co-Editor of Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits, published by Information Today in 2016. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and has worked in the information industry for over 45 years.