Skip to Main Content

The Unconference: Community College Library Issues: Blog Posts

The Community College Library Issues Unconference was a full-day event which took place in 2012 and 2014 at Santa Barbara City College.


Librarians, mainly Elizabeth Bowman, at Santa Barbara City College are excited to plan and host an unconference for Community College Library Issues this fall. We are in the early stages, but we will move quickly, so look for more information in the coming weeks.

This is especially important and timely due to limitations on travel and conference money. The event will be free and organizers will every attempt to find free housing locally as well. If you are local, please volunteer to help out.

The topics and theme possibilities are endless and will be driven by those in attendance.

If you have ideas, comments, etc. right now, just use the comment box below.

Social media hashtag will be #ccliu #ccuncon


The Community College Library Issues Unconference, on May 5, 2012, is a full-day event which takes place from 9:30am-4:30pm at Santa Barbara City College.

Lunch will be served and admission is free. The Unconference is limited to 50 registered attendees. This Unconference is an effort to connect community college librarians from around California in a low-cost, high participation professional collaboration.

Attendees will collaborate online prior to the Unconference to identify topics they're interested in presenting to the group or facilitating a discussion about. Everyone will be both teacher and learner, discussing the topics they're most interested in.

There will be two types of experiences at the Unconference:

  1. Presentations that last 7 minutes with 5 minutes for questions/feedback. Presentations will either be about a project an attendee has done that they think other librarians would be interested in or an idea they have for a library-related project that they'd like feedback on (or to find possible collaboration between colleges) from the audience. There will be 2 of these sessions throughout the day.
  2. Group discussions that last 50 minutes. There will be 3-4 different discussion groups going on during each of three discussion periods. The goal is to allow everyone to contribute to the discussion.

Each individual attending the Unconference must either suggest a presentation they would like to give or a discussion topic they would be willing to facilitate. We will then take all of those proposed topics and have participants vote on them. This will take place approximately two weeks before the conference. Those seven presentation topics and thirty discussion topics that receive the most votes will be the ones offered during the Unconference.

There is no specific limitation on the topics that can be discussed at this conference as long as they in some way touch upon community college librarianship.

They can run the gamut from services to children to cataloging standards to issues in reference services to bleeding edge technologies and more. Check out the TOPIC tab

We will investigate a backchannel for comments, link sharing, live blogging, etc. Tweets from Twitter will use the hashtag #ccuncon


For those of you coming from out of town, we have secured a discount from a motel near Santa Barbara City College Mason Beach Inn. A king-size bed room for $149/night, and 2 queen-sized beds room for $169/night.

If you want to have a roommate from among conference attendees to share expenses, contact Elizabeth [bowmane @ sbcc dot edu]

There are MANY other options in SB. Here is a sampling:

Days Inn $150+
(possible less expensive than Mason Beach Inn, .4 miles from SBCC)

Agave Inn $150+
(a bit hipper, 4 miles from SBCC)

Oasis Inn $99
(3.7 miles from SBCC)

<The Presidio $169+
(a fun, retro renovation motel, 2 miles from SBCC)

Motel 6 $130+
(1 mile from SBCC)

We will be working on finding free housing (in homes of SBCC librarians and colleagues) closer to the Unconference. If this interests you, contact Elizabeth [bowmane @ sbcc dot edu]

2012 Assessment

Thank you to everyone who completed the survey evaluating our Unconference. We had a 55% response rate, and the survey is still available here, if you'd like to add your feedback to the mix.

The bottom line: We want to do this again! One hundred percent of those who responded said they would participate in another Community College Libraries Unconference, and 88% responded "yes" or "maybe" to "Would you be willing to host a future Unconference?" About 90% think we should hold Unconferences annually, but some would like it to happen more frequently.

What did we like the best? On a scale of one (not valuable) to five (very valuable), six of the seven aspects of the event we asked about rated an average of four points or more, with "Sharing/getting feedback on something I'm doing" falling just under that, at 3.94. The top scorers were:

  • Hearing what other librarians are doing (4.88)
  • Focusing specifically on community colleges (4.76)
  • Socializing with other community college librarians (4.76)

Some of you mentioned other valuable things about the Unconference, including the fact that is was a free, one-day event. Other comments included:

    • "I think the balance between structure and lack of structure was perfect. Even the format of the presentations was great -- just enough to prompt good discussion around something specific."


"It was a great venue to meet and share ideas with other community college librarians."

"Your event really lifted me up as a CC librarian -- in spirit and thinking."

"This was a day well spent. Keep the size small like you had it (up to 50)."

Suggestions for improvement. Some of you noted in your comments that "the Unconference was good as it is," or even "perfect." Feedback about things to change broke down as follows:

Other feedback included:

    • "Having people bring hard copies ... of their SLOs or Assessment techniques thereof, might have been really helpful."


"I wish I had more time for discussion, so maybe include a no-host reception at a local restaurant next year if folks want to meet and continue talking."

"It would be great to have a bit more time for the presentations. A few more minutes to get beyond the simple description and then a few more minutes for questions/discussion at the end. Maybe presentation sessions could be simultaneous like the discussions and grouped broadly by topics (e.g. instruction, collections, ILS, etc.)"

Staying in touch. Most preferred this blog to a listserv for continuing the conversion. A few people also suggested creating a Facebook group. For now, we'll rely on this blog as the forum for ongoing discussion.

Planning for future Unconferences. For those of you contemplating hosting the next Unconference, consider this information about the best times, days, and locations:

Best times of year (respondents could choose more than one):

    • Late in the spring semester (75%)


    • Early January (50%)


  • Summer (38%)

Best days (respondents could choose more than one):

    • Saturday (100%)


    • Friday (59%)


  • Sunday (35%)

Best locations:

    • "It should rotate among colleges around the state, but keep it in places people would want to visit ... Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Monterey."


"I wish SBCC would host it again, but then everyone else should get a chance to host the Unconference. That way we get to visit other campuses."