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Yesterday I was so excited to see that LITA was having a LITA Camp May 7-9 2009 on the OCLC campus in Dublin, Ohio. It is only is a 2 an a half hour drive. Toady I discovered that they were charging $150 for LITA members and $210 for ALA members and $290 for non-ALA members.
A couple of years ago I attend Ann Arbor’s first un-conference. It was a great day where people came and shared ideas and talked about problems and the challenges they faced. It was inspiring and I came away with new friends and wished that all conferences could have this type of energy and involvement. Oh yeah and it was FREE!!!! The next un-conference I attended was in Darien ,CT . I had the same experience, a day of sharing and thought provoking conversations.
Hearing what others were doing was absorbing and challenging. Again the event was free. I attended the second un-conference in Ann Arbor and then hosted an un-conference here at the ACPL. We had a speaker (David Lee King) and provided breakfast and free Wifi. We welcomed everyone and charged nothing. I recently attended the Drupal Camp at Darien and this was given at no charge to the attendees. We will be having another Library Camp this year and it will be offered again at no charge. The understanding in un-conferences/ libaray camps is that libraries that have the resources can help and support those that don’t.
I had always thought that one of the roles of LITA was to support the library profession. These un-conference events in the past have provided an opportunity for people to get together and help each other. In these economic times to charge people for this type of event where to my knowledge no library camp is the past has charged is completely confounding.
I am confused by the registration pricing. If you are a LITA or ALA member you get a discount registration rate compared to the full $290. This pricing structure is clearly designed to encourage non LITA and ALA members to attend. The beauty of past un- conferences is that you did not have to belong to an organization and there was no economic divided. You could come participate in the day and all it cost was your travel and time.
When you create events like this you hear many unheard voices. Those are the voices of librarians that don’t have expansive travel budgets that allow them to crisscross the country jetting from one conference to another. What you hear is the voices from the trenches, voices that you have artfully managed to silence with this registration fee.
Expecting people to contribute to the un-conference and then charging them for the privilege is puzzling. What is more troubling is you NASCAR approach to sponsorship for the event. You provide a vehicle for people to donate at different rates. The Graham Cracker is 0 – $1999.00 and the Mashmallows is the $2000 – $4999. This type of buffoonery cheapens the idea of library camps and disrespects the work of those that went before.
Disappoint is the only feeling that remains. If I was the suspicious type I could think that you are attempting to profit from the popularity of library camps by branding your conference in this manner. I prefer to think that you are simply misguided and have confused your event for a library camp.