The conference started on Wednesday with preconferences and vendor showcases. I arrived in the afternoon so immediately after I went to the vendor exhibits. This is the only conference where vendors and publishers are only allowed to exhibit on the 1st day of the conference for about 7 hours. The idea is that these vendors are participants too in the conference and as such they should not be just standing by in their booths pitching their products and services. Also it allows the librarians to focus on the vendors they want to meet and not be distracted when the conference starts. I got to meet with my regular contacts from YBP, EBSCO. I met with the Gale folks, Proquest, CRCnetbase, Credo Reference and many more.
I got to attend the “Showdown at the Charleston Conference.” This is an annual tradition wherein vendors face each other much like a showdown in the OK coral so that they have a no-holds barred product faceoff. It aims to have an honest exchange between competing products in the library marketplace to get beyond the usual sales pitch, and explore the issues that concerns us and our libraries. For this showdown, they focused on ebooks and usage statistics. Three ebook vendors EBL, ebrary and EBSCO had a showdown (since this is a showdown, the Presidents and VPs of each company face off). For the usage statistics, PaperStats from Pubget face off with ScholarlyStats from SWETS. It was fun to see how all these vendors try to outdo each other mch like saying “I’m better than you so take that!” all to the amusement of the attendees.
In the evening, I attended the YBP/ebrary cocktails. I roomed-in with my friend Fran Krempasky, head of acquisitions from Cooley Law School. In there we met with the MI delegation from MSU, WSU, GVSU and U of M. I got to meet and talk to my counterparts from Yale University, U of Chicago, Columbia University, and many more. It is shocking to hear their stories especially those that involve layoffs. Over drinks (open bar but I didn’t drink though and confined myself to a harmless pineapple, cranberry cocktail) and Southern food like crab cakes and fried green tomatoes we chatted and laughed the night away.