Pre-conference thoughts

In April I was lucky enough to be win one of the ten Bursaries for the ARA conference in Brighton 29-31 August 2012.

This will be my first conference, and with about a week ago I thought I should get around to write a blog post about my thoughts on attending the conference.
I hope to write short blog posts during the conference as well as attempt to live tweet some of the talks. To that end this blog post is a bit of an experiment as I am figuring out how the WordPress app on my iPad works so I can use it at the conference. As I usually rely heavily on spell and grammar checks in Word before I post anything I beg your forgiveness for any mistakes you might come across.

So, thoughts on the conference…

Mostly I am looking forward to it. I enjoy meeting other archivists/records managers and it is alway interesting to hear what others do and how they do it. I am always looking for ideas on how we can improve what we do at work, and I think sharing experiences is a good way to find new inspiration.

However, I am also a little hesitant about attending the conference. While I already know some of the other bursary winners, a couple of us are travelling to Brighton together, I am never particularly relaxed in large groups or crowds. Most of the time will be occupied by listening to talks by interesting people, but I feel a little nervous about the “social” times. I do not wish to be clinging to the people I know, but I fear I might not feel confident enough to go meet new people. If you do see me stand quietly observing in a corner do come say hello!

Another thing I am a little unsure about is the morbid natural interest in where I work and what is going on there (and has been going on there the past yer or so). While I recognise that the position I find myself in at work is not very usual for an archivist, I do feel that what everyone else are doing in their archive is a lot more interesting than what I have to deal with. Combine that with the fact that I legally cannot say much about what is going on it make it rather tiring to meet new people as there is a set pattern to how first conversations usually go. I almost hope the name badges does not have place of work on them, though that is probably wishing for too much. So if you do happen to meet me, please do not be offended if I steer conversation away from what I do.

Lastly, there are all the questions I am sure all first time conference delegates have. Questions such as “what the heck does one wear to the gala dinner” (seriously, what does one wear to the gala dinner?), “is anyone else bringing their trainers for a run on the beach Thursday morning?”, “how many pens/pencils do I need to bring?” (I doubt I can type fast enough on the iPad to take notes on it). Any advice gratefully received. 🙂

I fear all the above makes me sound rather antisocial, which I am not. It is just that I find the thought of so many archivists/records managers/conservators in one place rather intimidating.

It will be fine I am sure!

See you in Brighton next week.

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12 Responses to Pre-conference thoughts

  1. cmstaylor says:

    Hello – I think all of us whether it is our first or our 21st conference (this is my third – at least for the whole thing) get that combination of excitement and nervousness. What if no-one talks to me, what do I say if they do, etc. etc. My favourite was the year I was doing ARC as I had an easy excuse to talk to people. I shall ensure I come and say hello anyway!

    Re. your questions: 1) gala dinner I am wearing my little black dress that I bought for a ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ hen do earlier in the year and black wedges. 2) running, definitely not but I could be persuaded to go for fresh air between the end of the afternoon and dinner! 3) pens/pencils – it’s up to you I usually have two of each plus my netbook and strategies for managing the battery power. Bigger issue is going to be charging my phone as it will now only do so through a computer!

    See you next week!

  2. Marie says:

    I don’t believe anyone who says they find it easy to walk into a room full of people they don’t know. It’s hard. And after a lifetime in PR, boy have I done it a lot. It doesn’t get much easier. BUT, huge BUT, walking into a room of archive people really is different. Done that a lot too over my first year with ARA. They’re friendly!!! Is this because it’s a mostly female environment? Debate…????
    I was thinking of wearing a full length dress for the gala dinner. Got a nice one for a wedding in a field recently (it allowed for flat shoes!!) and rather liked it. Hadn’t worn a long frock since the 70s. Let’s ring in some changes. See ya next week!!!!

  3. Heather Romaine says:


    I am another of the bursary winners – and feel quite honoured and excited by that! I have been to conference before but totally understand all your fears/expectations relating to it. Don’t worry archivists are generally a friendly bunch – and the conservators even more so! And you will find there is quite a variety of people there from quite a variety of institutions but all with similar stories and issues from their places of work.

    As for your questions, I really haven’t decided what to wear to the gala dinner but Catherine’s idea of a little black dress is a good one (if you are comfortable with that) but again there is always a variety.

    Running – definitely intending to do this in the mornings before things get going, although probably along the front rather than the pebble beach which is rather a nightmare to run on! Feel free to grab me if you want to do this.

    I will be taking as many pencils as I remember to pack – you can never have enough and they are more reliable than pens which always seem to run out at the most inopportune moment.

    I am sure you will have a great time and I look forward to seeing you there!

  4. DaneAnne says:

    Thank you for the comments and answers to my questions, ladies! 🙂

    I know archivists/RMs/conservators are lovely people, it is the amount of people that scares me not the type.

    I am not really a “little black dress” person, but I do have a nice dress (which is not very latin-y) I wore for a friend’s wedding which might do.

    Heather, I’m definitely up for a jog/gentle run Thursday morning – when I wrote “on the beach” I meant on a pavement along/near the beach. Running in sand or pebbles is a killer!
    A stroll and some fresh air between afternoon session and dinner would be great, so I’d be happy to join you if the weather is dry, Catherine.

  5. LouiseARay says:

    Although I have worked in archives for a gazillion years and have spoken at ARA conference almost every year for about the last 7/8(lost count!), like Catherine, this will be only the third time I have ever been to a whole ARA conference. I suppose what I am saying is even those who might seem to be conference regulars aren’t part of a ‘special club’ and will be just as keen to talk to you as you are in talking to them. And you don’t have to talk about your workplace – the advantage of a conference setting, rather than a general social one, is that you have a common interest and so can always open a conversation with something like ‘what did you think of that last talk?’. Anyway I hope you (and Heather and Marie and Catherine) are going to have a catch-up chat with me, please.

    Another tip is – look at the delegate list and identify people that you think you might want to talk to. That way if the conversation seems to be dryng up, you can ask others to point you in the direction of someone else (I for one would be happy to introduce you to anyone I know who is there). That way you can start to increase the number of people you do know (or atleast have chatted to) as the week progresses.

    Pens/pencils – if you are lucky the suppliers stands in the Information Marketplace will have useful give-aways of this kind (and sweeties) If not, there is a Paperchase around the corner from the hotel for extra supplies…

    Gala Dinner – you have all scared me now. Past experience has been people dress up if they want to, or not if they don’t, and I have veered towards the latter. I might have to revisit my wardrobe now. In emergency – there is a TKMaxx not far from the conference venue and some good vintage shops in Brighton.

    See you there!

  6. Kat says:

    Ah, I had no idea you had a blog!
    I’m up for running, too (though my hip/knee issues are making me a bit slow these days).
    Am half-tempted to wear my Fifties dress with petticoat, lacy gloves and all to the dinner, but not if I end up looking ridiculous…
    See you on the early train!

  7. DaneAnne says:

    Louise, I really like your idea of identifying people on the delegates list that I might like to talk to. I will definitely try to do that! And I promise to bounce up for a catch-up chat sometime during the conference.

    Kat, As you can see the poor blog has been terribly neglected the past year or so.
    The dress I’m thinking of wearing is sort of 50s style.
    Richard (who was at UCL with me, not sure if you know him) is joining us on the train down to Brighton. It will be quite the early morning party. 🙂

  8. Barry Houlihan says:

    Hey! Firstly great work on the blog! Well I am an ARA conference first-timer also and delighted to be among the very lucky bursary people. I have been to a few other similar type events for work here in Ireland and I suppose they can seem intimidating at first but I always find people are always extremely welcoming and worries/nerves tend to go out the window! We are all in the same field of work/interests so I think it will all be great. Its not often I get to meet with so many archivists! Also Il be packing the runners so if people did fancy a run that could be a nice way to pass some timein the morning/evening.
    Looking forward to meeting everyone tomorrow!

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