Submitted by Jennifer McKinnell and Denise Smith, Conference Planning Cochairs, Upstate New York and Ontario Chapter
Like many other MLA chapters, the Upstate New York and Ontario Chapter (UNYOC) planners faced unprecedented challenges this year for the 2020 annual meeting. The meeting was scheduled to take place October 28–30 at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel. Fortunately, the hotel was extremely generous and released the chapter from the original contract to rebook for a future date. In the meantime, the planning committee quickly pivoted and started planning a quality virtual experience. With the support of the UNYOC Executive Committee, we scheduled a free event, open to both current and potential future members. The two-day event included a half-day continuing education (CE) opportunity, a keynote speaker, vendor talks, and the chapter annual business meeting. The entire event was well attended and received.
On Wednesday, October 28, Jessica Pettitt delivered the Good Enough Now CE session. The session provided an innovative and practical guide to removing self-doubt, self-limiting beliefs, and habitual excuses. Over the course of three hours, Pettitt helped participants reveal their best, authentic selves while at the same time improving their interpersonal relationships and communities. Attendees received a copy of Pettitt’s book, Good Enough Now: How Doing the Best We Can with What We Have Is Better than Nothing, and they earned three MLA CE credits. Thirty-six people attended.
Noam Coen launched the meeting on Thursday, October 29, as the event keynote speaker. Author of the book, The Know-It-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball, Coen provided a talk about misinformation and disinformation in the media. Following his talk, he facilitated a lengthy and engaging discussion exploring the dangers of misinformation and the role librarians can play in helping society correct its course. Even with almost seventy individuals participating, there was ample room for lively debate and information sharing.
Following the keynote speech, each of the vendor sponsors provided product updates, after which they were invited to meet with UNYOC members one-on-one in virtual breakout rooms. This year, UNYOC changed its sponsorship model from traditional tiers to pay-what-you-can. We were thrilled to have ten vendors generously provide the financial support necessary to deliver our exciting program of events: American Psychological Association, BMJ, EBSCO Health, Elsevier, LM Information Delivery, Rittenhouse, TDNet, Thieme, and Wolters Kluwer. A special thank you goes to McGraw-Hill Education, who offered technical and infrastructure support before, during, and after the live event. Following the vendor talks, members heard updates from MLA President Lisa K. Traditi, AHIP, and Network of the National Library of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region, Representative Kate Flewelling.
Although it was the last activity on the second day, the business meeting was well attended. Outgoing UNYOC President Lorraine Porcello led fifty-two participants through a series of reports, including a review of financial statements, future meeeting planning, online membership payment options, and recommended changes to the chapter’s procedures manual. Attendees successfully voted in a new slate of officers, established an archives working group, and agreed to the first membership fee increase in over twenty years.
Overall, both the attendees and the planning committee were pleased with the event. Technical issues were minimal, and participants were active and engaged. Our vendors expressed their appreciation for being included in all aspects of the event, and our membership was delighted to have their registration fees waived during these difficult times. We are hopeful that next year we will be able to return to a face-to-face event.