A Successful BarCampOhio/LibraryCampOhio

I’m pleased to be able to report a successful running of a BarCamp here earlier this week. Billed as BarCampOhio/LibraryCampOhio — a mixture of .com and library technologists — we had a good turnout and a lively discussion on a variety of topics. Thanks and gratitude go out to OCLC for offering the space free-of-charge and to T-Mobile for sponsoring the event lunch.

We had about 35 people for the event, including out-of-state’rs from Pennsylvania and Maryland. Being a BarCamp, some of the most valuable conversations were the ones that weren’t organized, but among the organized topics the participants talked about Drupal, social media / marketing / community building, hardware and software management, virtualization and cloud computing, and SOLR.

At the end of the day, we did a wrap-up and came out with a good set of suggestions for the next BarCampOhio attempt. I thought I’d put them to permanence here for the benefit of others who try in the future.

One group of suggestions were around the structure of the ideas to be talked about. Someone suggested the use of 5-minute “lightning talks” at the start of the event to get some creative juices flowing about potential topics for the rest of the day. Another participant suggested posting potential topics online prior to the event, conducting a survey, then find presenters to give an informed overview of the highest ranked topics prior to launching into the discussion. Someone else thought that the organizers could frame expectations for the day better by suggesting that participants bring notions of topics that interest them rather thinking about bringing prepared presentations. One person suggested using the Pecha Kucha (20 slides, 20 seconds each) format.

Related ideas dealt with the “take away” aspects of the meeting. Some desired more capture and recording of the discussions of the meeting. (There was a pretty good recording of some of the conversation under the #barcampohio Twitter hash-tag.) There was even mention of an “Action Item Camp” format — I’m going to have to go look that one up.

Other suggestions fell into the category of event logistics. More t-shirt size were desired, and for the next go-around I think adding a question for requested t-shirt size to the registration form would be a good idea. Someone suggested breaking popular topics into the morning and afternoon to handle the desire to be in more than one conversation at a time. Another suggested planning and describing what was going to happen after lunch before we went to lunch so as not to loose too much momentum in the post-lunch energy drift. Organizers need to test technology and make sure there is prevalent wifi in the venue. (I thought OCLC did fine in this respect — particularly with the addition of several hardwired ethernet hubs around the room — but we didn’t ask folks until the weekend before to bring ethernet cables so they could use the hubs.)

For other ideas on the day, see Dan Rockwell’s great summary of the event and how to make it better.

Some financial details. My part in the planning was setting up registration and handling the money parts. Very early in discussing our ideas for BarCampOhio, Bob and I debated whether or not to charge a registration fee. It doesn’t seem common for BarCamps to do this, but we thought it important to get a sense of who was coming so we could make plans for room sizes, food needed, and so forth. We figured if someone paid a token amount $25, they are most likely going to come. We also weren’t sure if sponsors would come forward to underwrite the costs of the event. (Sponsors did.) After a bit of research, I found Eventbrite — they had just enough of a service for just the right fee for what we needed. For a $25/ticket event, Eventbrite charges 99-cents. PayPal was the payment service (Google Checkout was also an option); on a $25 ticket, PayPal took about $1.03 in fees (less if a person paid for more than one ticket). We had 36 people register, grossing $900 and netting $857.84. The t-shirts cost $460, and I’m not sure how much the food will cost. We should break just about even, though.

Update 20080905T1600 : An update on the financial picture. The catering cost for morning and afternoon breaks at the conference center was $384.30. With all income and expenses now recorded, the event was a net loss of $18.11. The details are in a Google Spreadsheet, should you want to take a look.

I had a very good time, made some new connections, and learned a bit as well. It was great working with Bob and Brandon and Laura to put BarCampOhio/LibraryCampOhio together. Think the event should be done again? Have other comments or suggestions? Post ‘em here.

The text was modified to update a link from http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23barcampohio to https://twitter.com/search?q=barcampohio&src=typd on August 22nd, 2013.

(This post was updated on 21-Aug-2013.)