Over 600 people participated in the Upper Midwest Digital Collections Conference + Minnesota Digital Library Annual Meeting on November 5th and 6th. About one-third of attendees were from Minnesota and others joined from 43 states. In addition to staff from Academic and Public Libraries, this year we increased attendance from the Historical Society and Museum communities.
It was a packed conference with keynote DeEtta Jones starting us off on the first day and a plenary on the second featuring A Journal of the Plague Year and the Urban Art Mapping Project. There were 18 smaller breakout sessions on collection building in the time of COVID, inclusion and accessibility in digital collections, curating indigenous digital collections, several collaborative project presentations, and more. In addition to the breakout sessions, participants were able to connect in smaller groups and discuss mutual interests through the birds-of-a-feather sessions and the mentor match-up event.
Feedback was positive and attendees indicated a strong interest in future virtual conferences and/or hybrid opportunities. Minitex staff organizing and hosting the virtual conference learned a lot, and we will continue to think about how to make our future conferences even more accessible. Here are a few comments from the evaluation.
- I rarely attend conferences because as someone who only works part time, the travel and conference eats a chunk of my alloted hours, especially since there are not often conferences near my hometown. I also have kids at home, so conference attendance does not always work well with my other responsibilities. While my circumstances may not be typical, I really appreciated the ability to attend a conference and listen to great presentations without the costs of travel and meals. I could also listen to the sessions at a time convenient for me, and attend more than one presentation in a session, which was great. Thank you for making this happen in this challenging year.
- A good mix of information for beginners and veterans. I prefer in-person meetings, but the benefits of virtual meeting technology are undeniable and should become a permanent fixture.
- The conference was great; learning more but sometimes hard to do virtual networking indeed; but given some circumstance of COVID, this virtual option was the best now! Thanks for organizing.
- This was the meatiest virtual conference I've attended all year. It was hard to choose among the concurrent sessions. Thank you for recording them!