A good conference can be an amazing, life-changing, work-affirming event, even in a virtual setting. You need a conference to re-energize your work, to get new ideas, and to network with people facing the same struggles as you.
I publish a list of the best conferences for library marketers every year, normally in February. I waited a bit this year to give conference organizers a chance to decide whether they’ll be in-person, virtual, or a combination of both (hybrid). Most are going hybrid in 2021.
I used three main factors to determine which conferences get on this list.
- The conference must have a robust selection of sessions specifically centered around marketing and promotions. That means there are conferences on this list that are not specifically designed for libraries. That also means that I didn’t include major library conferences like the American Library Association Conference or state library conferences. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a link with more conferences centered on library work outside of marketing and promotions.
- They must offer high value for the cost.
- They must get positive reviews for their focus on marketing and promotions from past attendees.
Most conferences on this list have a special section on their website outlining their COVID safety precautions. I’ve also noted if a conference offers a refund policy. If you have a suggestion for this list, let me know in the comments.
Let me know: Will you attend a library conference this year?
The Best Conferences for Library Promotions and Marketing
Northern Lights Library System
Virtual held May 27 and 28, 2021
I’m proud to be a part of this online conference. The session lineup includes workshops on collection marketing, podcasting, fighting Zoom fatigue, and data analysis. Registration closes on May 26 so be sure to sign up!
Digital Summit Series
In-person events between May-December 2021 in 11 U.S. cities
Price: $325 for a basic pass
Libraries can learn a lot from for-profit brands about how to create engaging experiences in the digital space. You get the slides and recordings afterward to share with your co-workers. Plus, the price is right. And the roster of nearly a dozen cities means most of you won’t have to travel far to attend if you prefer an in-person conference experience. They do have a refund policy for cancellations.
Digital Marketing Conference Series
Virtual events between May-December 2021, in-person event in August in Australia
Price: $197 for an all-access pass with early bird pricing (ends June 11)
This series include sessions on digital strategy, web experience management, usability and design, customer engagement, social media marketing, video marketing, web analytics and A/B testing, email marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization, geo-targeting, and so much more. Each of the events has their own website and agenda so be sure to pick the one you want to attend before buying a pass.
Content Marketing World
In-person and virtual events held September 28-October 1, 2021 from Cleveland, Ohio
Price: Virtual pass is $699, in-person main conference pass is $1299 (prices end June 25). Special note: If you email the organizers (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask for the nonprofit discount, you can get a percentage off the Main Conference ticket. That brings the price into an affordable range. There are also all-access and special industry forums that cost extra if you have the budget. I am speaking at this conference this year. This will be my fifth year attending, and it’s my all-time favorite conference experience for a host of reasons. The networking is incredible, the speakers are inspiring, and I always come home with a head full of ideas. You’ll learn how to create great content on all platforms. If you decide to go, let me know… we can arrange a safe meet-up! You can change from an in-person to a virtual pass, or from a virtual to an in-person pass any time before August 27. You can cancel your registration for a processing fee before June 28. Visit this page for more on refunds or exchanges.
Virtual conference held October 12-14, 2021
Price: $89 for the Powerhouse Pass (price ends July 15)
Inbound bills itself as “the community that delivers.” The conference, put on by HubSpot, is an “immersive, three-day experience.” The agenda and speaker lineup are not yet listed on their website, but I have friends in library marketing who have attended and found this conference to be valuable. The price is certainly within budget for most libraries. Their refund policy allows you to transfer your pass to someone else for free or cancel for a partial refund until July 21.
Nonprofit Storytelling Conference
In-person event held November 1-3, 2021 in San Diego, CA.
Price: $795 for in-person or $595 for lifetime access to sessions on video (prices end July 15)
This conference is for anyone who wants to learn how to use better storytelling to increase engagement for the library through direct mail, social media, special events, outreach, or to raise money for any of your fundraising arms. If you buy a ticket, you’ll get access to ten videos from previous conferences to watch right away. Organizers say if an in-person event is unable to happen for whatever reason, they will transition to a virtual event. You can get a full refund minus a $100 administrative fee before Aug. 1.
Library Marketing and Communications Conference
Virtual conference held November 2-3, 2021
Price: $230 to attend “live”, $130 for the recordings only.
If you do anything in library promotions or marketing, and you have to pick one conference to attend this year, make it this one. This is an amazing opportunity to learn so much about marketing, communication, public relations, social media, and outreach in academic, public, and special libraries. The sessions explore issues that are important for this niche of library work. The conference includes time for attendees to network and to discuss mutual challenges. Registration opens later this summer. Sign up for their mailing list on the website to get more information.
For more library conferences, bookmark this website.
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