How do you choose the location for each OLSSI?
- We stay on college and university campuses because other venues are much more expensive. This enables us to keep the cost to attend so low. It is also nice to see various colleges and universities and their libraries.
- We rotate around Ohio so that library staff who are unable to travel far can still attend now and then. We sometimes return to schools that have worked very well for us in the past, like Baldwin-Wallace in the northeast. In other areas, like the southeast, it is difficult to find accomodations with the necessary amenities that are available at the end of June or beginning of July.
- We require locations to have air conditioning and a private bedroom for each attendee. We prefer bathrooms to be shared by as few people as possible, but sometimes use locations with communal bathrooms when those locations are otherwise wonderful.
- We prefer locations with gathering spaces in or near the dorms for socializing, games, and watching movies.
- We also prefer locations with either a separate dining space for just us or a large enough dining space that we will be able to all sit together for meals.
- We try to get locations where all of the buildings that we use will be close together and will have parking as near as possible.
What do attendees get for their money?
- The registration fee provides twelve hours of classroom time learning from experienced professionals, as well as five meals and a private bedroom for two nights. We also offer additional, loosely structured time for networking with peers from other institutions and entertainment to refresh everyone’s energy and enthusiasm.
- There is never an additional cost for parking or WiFi or any other amenities. Attendees need only get here, cover their dinner on Monday night, and get home again.
Why is Monday night dinner not provided?
- We provided Monday night dinner for the first few years of OLSSI, but it was sparsely attended. Most OLSSI attendees indicated that they preferred to use that time to go out and explore the local area. Now we provide a list of local eateries and attractions for Monday night.
- We encourage any attendee who is unsure of where to go or uncomfortable navigating an unfamiliar town to stop by the staff desk or ask a staff person about who is planning to go where. There are always informal groups making plans earlier in the day that would love to bring more people along.
How do you choose the classes that will be available?
- At the November meeting each year, we look at the feedback from the previous year for suggestions and brainstorm about possibilities and who might be willing to teach them. Depending on the kinds of classrooms available at that year’s location, we try to balance technology and non-technology classes. We then contact potential instructors for the classes that we want to offer and build the schedule based on what classes we’ll be able to provide.
- We try to put library snapshots, a tour of the host location’s library, and other lighter classes later in the day on Monday when we’re all a bit tired. We also try to spread out the classes that appeal more to just academic, public, school, government, or special libraries, so that each class time has at least one offering with wide appeal.
What else do you do with attendee feedback?
- We love feedback from our attendees, especially on the evaluation forms at the end of the conference. We review this feedback in detail at the first meeting after each conference. We use it to decide which classes to offer (or repeat) in the future, which instructors to invite back, whether to return to that location, which themes to offer in the future, and to note anything else we can do to improve the experience.
- When the evaluation feedback is aggregated for the committee to review, it is presented anonymously. We do not ask for identifying information on the evaluations, although attendees sometimes choose to provide it when answering a question. In those cases, that identity is noted only in the context in which it was given and cannot be traced to that attendee’s other feedback.
- Once all of the evaluation feedback has been aggregated, the original evaluations are destroyed.
Why do you have a theme?
- We want OLSSI to be not just a conference, but also a retreat. A whimsical theme introduces an element of lightheartedness that helps us create a casual atmosphere. The content of our classes is every bit as useful and informative as it would be without a theme, but outside of classes our attendees feel more free to relax and have fun.
Why don’t you put the conference binders on the website?
- The main problem is copyright. Our instructors often either do not have the rights to make their materials available online or do not wish us to do so. When instructors do give us permission to put their materials online, we do that after the conference.
- Because we are usually given permission to provide at most a few class materials online, we cannot replace the paper binders with a digital version.
Why don’t you include all of the instructors’ presentation materials in the binders?
- Here again, instructors may either not have the rights to distribute their materials in print or may not wish us to do so. When instructors give us their presentations in time to include them in the printed binders, we do so.
- Some instructors choose to hand out printed copies of their presentations during their classes or are willing to share them by email afterward. If you did not attend a class but are interested in the materials, ask any OLSSI staff person or other attendees who were in the class. We’ll help you get what’s available.
Is WiFi access always available?
- We regret that WiFi access is sometimes problematic. Unfortunately, we often do not know the access details until soon before the conference starts and may have little or no time to test it and get questions answered before check-in starts. We know that this is important, however, and keep trying to make the experience as painless as possible each year.
Why are there never any trips to locations in the surrounding area?
- Our insurance only covers activities that take place on our host campus. Insurance for events off-campus would be prohibitively expensive. Instead, we try to highlight local attractions in the binders so that attendees can explore on their own.
Why don’t we have everyone introduce themselves to the group on the first day?
- Some attendees have vehemently expressed a wish to have introductions all around, while others have an equally emphatic feeling of terror when asked to speak to a large group. While we strive to meet any desires that we can, we also try to avoid inducing terror.
- The compromise is our Meet and Greet on the first evening when everyone is invited to mingle over refreshments. Attendance is optional, so anyone there should welcome being approached.