July 28, 2010

The Events Calendar is a Collection.

As part of my other duties as assigned I manage an events calendar. It's easy to think of this as just another administrative duty that falls in line somewhere near the name tents, although requiring slightly more advanced computer skills (it runs as a database in our content management system, WebArticles, and appears in three different sites' customized style wrappers). Actually, though, the events calendar is another collection of information deserving of some concentrated attention, planning, and library skills.

The events I collect and post may be webinars, conferences, legislative rallies, colloquia, meetings, calls for papers, and other items of interest to our staff, members, partners, and the general public visiting our site(s). Managing this calendar has not always been my responsibility but I have taken it on with a perspective of collection development. I mine all incoming publications--print and electronic--for events that could fit the scope of our calendar. I am selective, as I would be with keeping and promoting publications. I am consistent, in terms of how I make decisions about the scope of events that would be appropriate. (We do not, for example, post all things transportation.) I also try to be consistent in how I present the information so that the metadata, as it were, for each event is displayed the same way for each event. This includes the sponsoring organization, date, location, link to registration, and any publications that participants are encouraged to review in advance of the event.

This last point is key: events are often tacked on as a way to promote a new publication, so I may as well promote the event when I promote the publication. Events also sometimes lead to publications, such as proceedings from a conference or a report on a national online dialogue, so being aware of the events keeps me appraised of where the next important pubs will come from. You can also use a well-managed events calendar to drive traffic to other parts of your website. If it's your own calendar you can feel free to work in links to your own resources.

Taking the events calendar seriously can advance strategic partnerships, organizational alignment, and future collection development. While the calendar events are ephemeral, they typically arise from fertile research questions in the field and often produce resources, at least some gray literature. It lets you know what people in your content area are talking about, giving you and the staff you serve a competitive edge, or at least a sense of being in the know.

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