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ALA Midwinter 2012 has kicked off in Dallas, Texas, home of the Cowboys, the Stars, the Rangers, and – for the weekend – a whole lot of far less athletic (sorry Susan!) but enthusiastic librarians. I arrived yesterday late afternoon, as I needed to be ready to hit the ground running early this morning, as I was co-presenting a preconference for ACRL.

Our preconference, “Scholarly Communications: From Understanding to Engagement,” is an expansion of the ACRL Scholarly Communication 101 Road Show program I helped launch in 2009. Originally a 3 hour workshop at an ACRL national conference, the SC 101 program developed into a 4 hour “road show” workshop that we would present in partnership with local hosts, who in past years were required to provide another 2-3 hours of programming to round out the day. Based on lots of feedback from multiple sites, and our own frustrations with feeling rushed, we held a planning retreat at ALA Annual last June to assess the program, from which came the idea of expanding to a full day. We were also asked to think about how we might offer this programming in conjunction with an ALA conference to enable interested librarians who haven’t participated in a Road Show the opportunity to engage. A preconference at Midwinter seemed like the perfect fit: we had a broader audience to draw from, and we got to test drive the expanded day before taking it out on the road again later this year.

Fortunately, the expanded format works and our preconference was a great success! I was co-presenting with Sarah Shreeves, with whom I presented a Road Show in Minneapolis last May, and another member of our presenter group (there are six of us total), Joy Kirchner, was on hand to assess our new formatting. We had 39 engaged, motivated, talkative attendees, representing institutions from around the US and Canada, with only two repeats from previous Road Shows. The group raised excellent points and asked tough questions, and as should always happen, even though I was the “expert” at the front of the room, I also learned today. And while there are a few kinks to work out in the new full-day format, I am quite confident that we have made the right decision to expand the Road Show, and I’m thankful we had such a great trial run at Midwinter!