I was lucky enough to escape the winter blues here in the UK and travel to Charleston, South Carolina, for the annual Charleston library conference. In addition to participating in the Vendor Day – a showcase of publishers and service providers, including (of course) Ingenta and PCG – this year we ran a highly successful “Neapolitan” session (not an ice-cream tasting – more of a semi-plenary) on Open Access metrics, and their impact on librarians, publishers and funders.

For the 2017 conference we had a change in venue from the venerable – but rather cramped – Francis Marion Hotel.  Plenary sessions, Neapolitans and some other sessions were held at the grand new Gaillard Center a couple of blocks from the Francis Marion.  The Center has a performance hall, which is capable of seating 1,800 people and is pretty spectacular, plus a grand ballroom which will seat 250. In addition, “salons” cater for the smaller sessions.  The Charleston Conference was the first conference to be held at the Center; just as well, because attendance this year was over 1,700, far exceeding the capabilities of the Francis Marion Hotel.  (In the past few years, apparently, attendance had to be capped when the limits of the hotel were reached, to the disappointment of some late-registering hopeful attendees).

The 2017 Theme was “What’s Past is Prologue” – exploring what the future may or may not hold for librarians and publishers. Plainly the focus was on the situation on the US, but given the number of overseas visitors there was plenty to see, hear and discuss that was universally applicable. Open Access was very much to the fore, with JSTOR’s presentation focusing on the rapid rise in the number of OA eBooks on the platform (from below 1000 in 2016 to 25,000+ by November 17), though they concluded that though demand is high, paradoxically the awareness of OA books among faculty, students and even librarians remains low.

Our own session (Wide Open or Just Ajar? Evaluating Real User Metrics in Open Access) attracted nearly 300 delegates, many of the latecomers having to sit on the floor or stand. This was perhaps unsurprising given the quality of the panellists – the head of MIT Press, Amy Brand; the Director of Michigan University Press, Charles Watkinson; and Hillary Corbett, Director, Scholarly Communication & Digital Publishing at Northeastern University. It’s impossible to reproduce or summarise all three presentations here (I am happy to supply all slides on request – mail me at byron.russell@ingenta.com) and slides will be uploaded to Charleston Library Convention site in due course, but we used the opportunity to talk to the sizable audience about our new product, Ingenta Open, launching in January 2018 on the CMS platform!