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Doing the Charleston

Author info: HighWire Press
Post date: 01.12.2016
Post type: Article
Product or service: Products & Services
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Attending the Charleston Conference is a right of passage in the scholarly publishing industry. Over the years I’ve planned panels, scheduled meetings, but something always got in the way of my actually going to the Conference.  So it was with some pleasure that I attended the 36th annual meeting in Charleston this year. 

HighWire as an organization has been participating in the Charleston Conference for many years. While Librarians are technically not our customers they are one of the more important constituencies in our ecosystem.  Rubbing elbows with several hundred librarians over the course of a week is a good way to be reminded that we have many common goals that we need to solve together.

One of the highlights for me was an SSP-sponsored pre-session titled “Predators, ‘Pirates’ and Privacy: Educating Researchers on New Challenges in Publishing.”  The session covered some of the more controversial areas of publishing right now, Beall’s list of OA journals, SciHub- beloved by some, less so by many publishers, and some of the technical challenges around information ownership and privacy.  The discussion was fabulous.  The audience was a mixture of large and small publishers, technology providers, and librarians from a variety of institutions.  After describing the almost impossible challenge of keeping copyrighted content out of SciHub one librarian asked, “but isn’t this just an argument for open access to everything?”  It kind of was, but it lead to an equally useful discussion around the challenges of supporting OA business models and how both publishers and institutions are looking for new technologies to secure information – not only to protect published content, but the personal information of students and staff that is part of every business, university and college network.  I certainly came away with a better understanding that any solutions to these thorny issues would require cooperation from all sides.

In sum, the meeting was well worth the travel.

I have heard from my colleagues that over the years, the Charleston Conference has become a victim of its own success.  The charming southern town and its conference facilities are literally overrun by such a large group. My colleagues helpfully offered advice on navigating the meeting.  On the off chance that there are 1 or 2 of you out there who STILL haven’t been to Charleston I’ll share it with you.

  • Book your hotel and flights at least 5 months in advance and arrive a day early. I know it defies reason, but there are no direct flights from anywhere.  TRUE.
  • Dress in a fuchsia-colored tracksuit for easy identification because no one will be able to find you in the crush. NOT TRUE, I think they were messing with me.
  • Wear track shoes (which will coordinate nicely with the fuchsia track suit) to move swiftly from session to meeting to session, you will easily be logging an average of 5 miles a day (excluding the pre-dawn 5K “fun” run). TRUE!  Five miles in one day, my app confirms it.
  • Do not expect tea, water, and other amenities. They are a distraction and will take away from your transit time between sessions and meetings, you will need to carry a camel pack for easy hydration in the humid climate. TRUE, but a water bottle is sufficient.

Do expect plentiful opportunities to meet, talk, drink(!), and enjoy the unique restaurant scene after-hours. Librarians and publishers are a fun lot when they get out.  UNIVERSALLY TRUE, see you in 2017!

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