Collaborating to Create a Fashionable Event: A Guide for Creating a Library-Sponsored Conference

Collaborating to Create a Fashionable Event: A Guide for Creating a Library-Sponsored Conference

Nicole Elizabeth LaMoreaux (LIM College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0326-2.ch015


The Adrian G. Marcuse Library at LIM College in New York City has successfully organized a three-day conference dedicated to the past, present, and future of fashion information since 2011. This chapter serves as a case study on how to successfully organize, collaborate, and promote a library-sponsored conference into a successful and institution-supported event. Incremental growth is crucial to the event's success and the author includes information on how to increase the number and diversity of collaborators each year. The chapter will discuss the opportunities and challenges of organizing similar events with collaborative partners. It will discuss the importance of maintaining the original vision of the conference, while also acknowledging the value of including other participants' new ideas. Recognizing the skills needed for organization of the event and then recruiting professionals with those skills are additional keys to success.
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The Fashion: Now & Then (F:N&T) Conference (Fashion: Now & Then, 2015) began in 2011 as a one-day symposium and has continued each successive year into its current format as a three-day conference dedicated to the past, present, and future of fashion information. F:N&T has given the Adrian G. Marcuse Library the opportunity to collaborate and strengthen relationships with many within LIM College, from students to professors to administrators. Additionally, the Library has collaborated with entities outside the organization, including vendors, authors, publishers, museums, and fashion businesses. Over time the F:N&T Conference has gained international recognition and hosted presenters from countries including the United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, and Canada. The opportunity for collaboration has no borders and each year the organizers seek out new collaborative partners internally, locally and on the international level.

It is the author’s hope that through this chapter she can successfully demonstrate how to collaborate with others in order to turn a three-day conference into a successful and institution-supported event. Discussed in detail will be the opportunities and challenges of organizing an event with collaborative partners. Maintaining the original vision of the F:N&T Conference while also acknowledging the importance of including other participants’ ideas is crucial to the success of the event. So too is recognizing the organizational skills needed to put on such an event and then recruiting professionals who possess those skills. The chapter has been authored by the current organizer of the F:N&T Conference. The author interviewed the founder and organizer of the first three F:N&T Conferences to obtain background information on the history of the event. This allows the reader to gain insight on how to start an influential event and turn it into a well-respected and -attended event through collaboration.

Literature regarding conference collaborations is sparse. Ultimately this chapter will, like the F:N&T Conference itself, be one of the first of its kind. With that said, what literature does exist on conference organization reiterates the challenges and opportunities that the conference committee has learned to embrace and evolve with each year. Although it is a small- to medium-sized conference (approximately 200 attendees including presenters), there is still a lot of work that needs to happen in order to make it a success. As DeCoker (2013) states, “I’ve always known that writing my dissertation was the most all-consuming period of my academic career. Nothing else came close to the sustained effort required for that task. Nothing, that is, until I decided to organize an academic conference” (para. 1). Organizing and executing a successful academic conference is indeed a feat like none other, but the feeling after a well-produced conference is one of the most rewarding feelings ever experienced in an academic career.

The academic industry is inundated with conferences; therefore, as a conference organizer one of the first hurdles to cross is to decide what makes this conference unique: Why should someone that has a choice of so many conferences choose it? The theme ultimately guides the rest of the conference organization. This is reiterated in Treadwell and Casper’s (2008) article where they state, “Everything correlates to the conference theme—the venue, program content, and format, choice of speakers, and even the food. The choice of the theme brings everything else into focus” (p. 139). In the case of F:N&T, it is the first conference of its kind to be library-sponsored and dedicated to the past, present, and future of fashion information. The original organizer’s hope was to create a conference in which constituents from the library, archives, and fashion world could come together and discuss their interest in the subject of fashion. The initial conference was to have presenters—scholarly, professional, and practical—submit proposals and present so that they could all listen to and learn from one another. She also hoped that it would give the faculty and students the opportunity to present and attend a symposium at their own institution. She knew the importance of producing a meaningful and successful event so that the symposium would continue and allow others to share their knowledge each year (L. Ryan, interview, April 1, 2015).

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