After a delay caused by the threat of icy weather (which didn’t quite materialize), Derrik, Steve and I made the voyage on Friday, March 6 to Chapel Hill for the 24th Annual North Carolina Serials Conference. The conference itself had a later starting time and had amended session times, but it still ran smoothly without major sacrifices to the content of the scheduled programming. Like previous Serials Conferences, the programs were excellent and well worth the trip to Chapel Hill; thankfully, without the risk of life and limb.

As a bonus, both Derrik and Steve had sessions at this year’s conference. I had planned to attend both, but they had unfortunately been set for the same programing block. Derrik’s session, “Principles of Negotiation”, won the hour, which he co-presented with Lesley Jackson of EBSCO. It was engaging and informative, and it helped to bolster my knowledge regarding aspects of the licensing process that are often not discussed in training and have not been covered (to date) in library school. Derrik didn’t have to fear either heckling or flying vegetables; it was a very worthwhile program with good attendance from libraries and vendors alike.

Steve also did a great job representing NASIG at the conference. In addition to helming “NASIG at 30: New Initiatives, New Directions” about the organization’s history and growth, he served admirably at the NASIG table amongst the collection of vendor representatives.

The conference also had other takeaways for me:

Data and text mining are here to stay. As noted in a panel discussion, contemporary scholars are requesting access to sets of raw data to assist their research. This amount of access can have implications not only for traditional statistics and findings, but it can also extend to social media as tweets and other postings are collected. As with any other form of research, however, the need is not just to retrieve the information but to create new insights from it. This would also be invaluable if the digital Dark Age described by Google’s Vint Cerf were to become a reality.

Developing flexible materials budgets. In a presentation by Rachel Fleming of Appalachian State University, the question about reexamining the way budgets are laid out was an interesting one. Rather than looking at budgets traditionally in terms of format or fund codes, Ms. Fleming suggested a more holistic approach to budgeting, taking into account the fluidity of interdisciplinary funding for purchases as well as formats that do not yet exist. (This mode of thinking has part of collection management at ZSR for several years.) Finally, Ms. Fleming suggested the addition of “flex funds” into a revised budget that can be used for experimentation and new initiatives when needed.

Next year will be the 25th anniversary for the North Carolina Serials Conference, and it promises to be a grand affair. I’m already looking forward to seeing the programs that will be scheduled as well as the speakers who will be participating!