Library 2.0Conferences have always been a source for professional development and networking with other professionals in the field. For the busy professional or student, national conferences can be expensive as well as difficult to take time off for or get to, depending on where you live.

That is one of the benefits of attending a virtual conference. Similar to webinars (web-based seminars), virtual conferences are easily accessible from around the world so long as you have internet capabilities. Participants can register in advance (or sometimes after the conference has already aired) and log in to attend the conference.

In the last few weeks alone, there have been two exceptional conferences. The Digital Shift conference (@ShiftTheDigital) took place on October 1 and was organized by Library Journal with the theme Libraries at the Center. It offered three presentation categories from different perspectives of librarianship (data/housing data, collaboration/innovation, and ways to use instruction) to try to answer the following questions.

  • How can libraries adapt and adopt emerging technologies and tools, new ways of learning, and the evolving publishing ecosystem?
  • How can libraries meet the 21st century needs of children and young adults?
  • How will libraries continue to be at the center of their communities? 

Beyond the presentations, there were also live poster sessions and “vendor booths” where live chat with representatives was available. At the beginning of the conference there was a keynote by Daniel J. Levitin, PhD and author of the book The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in a World of Information Overload on the librarian’s role in a world where more information is being created than ever before.  The ending keynote was given by Anil Dash (@anildash), a data analytic-focused entrepreneur who has co-founded companies Activate and ThinkUp (where he is also the CEO).

“What we need to teach children and society is that librarians are trained in the art and science of interpreting and interrogating information.” –Daniel Levitin during keynote at The Digital Shift conference Image taken from Daniel’s talk at the Library of Congress

The Library 2.0 conference (#lib2014), partnered with San Jose State University, took place October 8 and 9. People from around the world tuned in to watch presenters discuss a variety of topics from how libraries can assist in natural disasters to Michael Stephen’s keynote on mindful practice.

Reasons to attend:

1) Networking: you will be able to meet other people with similar interests and new ideas in your field

2) Professional development: most presentations in the conferences offer certificates of participation that can qualify for professional development requirements for your job

3) Learning: regardless of a certificate, it’s an opportunity to learn new things and hear about what’s going on in the field

4) Travel constraints: there are none. You can log in from the comfort of your home!

5) Cost: many virtual conferences are free of charge

6) Time constraints: it can be difficult to take time off to attend conferences, but many conferences keep a video archive of their presentations!

Interested in a virtual conference? You can check out the Library 2.0 2014 conference archive here and the archive from The Digital Shift conference will be available until January 1st, 2015 here.