Amigos Conference Boxes Featured in LJ Article

The snack boxes sent by Amigos to participants in the May 2011 online Amigos Member Conference were featured in the article "A Conference Wherever You Are" by Dr. Steven J. Bell in the October 2011 issue of Library Bell praised the snack boxes, one of which was sent to him as a conference speaker, as an example of one way that organizations can “humanize” online conferences for participants.

"The Amigos folks get it," said Bell in his article. "The major weakness of virtual conferencing is the lack of personal connection with a community that one derives from a physical conference. The minor yet humanizing gesture of providing me with snack breaks goodies made me feel that I’d be part of a larger community experience-even if I’d only be sitting in my office staring at my computer screen. The Amigos Member Conference is totally online. Its mix of keynote talks, concurrent sessions, virtual vendor fair, discussion rooms, Twitter backchannel—and the bonus of archived recordings—goes a long way toward narrowing the gap. By blending hi-tech with hi-touch, library organizations like Amigos are getting closer to the ultimate hybrid conference: professional development with equal parts human connectedness and economical convenience."

The 2011 Amigos conference was the second year Amigos sent snack boxes to participants. The boxes were the brainchild of Amigos' Terri Mertz and Carol Wattenbarger, who developed the idea as a way to bridge the personal interaction gap inherent in online meetings. "With an online conference, we felt our attendees might miss the opportunities available at traditional conferences to network with colleagues during breaks in between sessions," said Mertz. "By sending them a snack, cup of coffee, and a pen or some sticky notes, we wanted to let our attendees know we really wanted them to be part of the entire online conference experience. It was also the perfect way to engage our vendor partners. Their sponsorships enabled us to provide a fun and different way to connect with our attendees."

Mertz said plans are already underway to send out boxes for the 2012 Amigos Member Conference, and invites vendors interested in contributing items for next year’s boxes to contact her.