Why would you want to dine in a stuffy old conference when you could hang out here?

Way more ambience than your average conference centre

So by now at least a few of you eager beavers will have had a good poke around in this year’s conference programme so you’ll probably know that we’ve decided to go for something a bit different on the social side of things in 2009.

I have to admit when I first heard that there wasn’t going to be a conference dinner I was a little deflated.  Of course we all go to conference to be inspired and to learn and share but let’s face it the chance to schmooze, network and have a bit of a knees up with colleagues from around the country is a big part of the experience too (I still have trouble explaining to my civilian friends that librarians en masse = party but there’s no convincing some people).

So some of you may well be grumbling a bit about it, and fair enough, it’s not like we get a lot of slap up dos to go to is it?  Where are our Oscars?  Our Grammys?  Our Golden Guitars?  But I have to say that I’ve been really impressed with the Social Sub-committee’s ability to, if I may borrow the conference slogan from last year, think “outside the box” and be innovative in their approach.  After all, necessity is the mother of invention.  They’ve put together a really cool package and secured one of the hippest and most dynamic precincts in Christchurch for our use and I for one am really looking forward to it.

Basically SOL Square (SOL standing for “South Of Lichfield”) is a quadrant of bars and eateries that offers something for everyone.  So if you’re looking to have a full meal, yakitori, champagne or just bar snacks the venues in the area can provide.  Also there’s a range of “ambience” on offer so while some of you may wish to stick to a cosy corner in a wine bar, others may choose to shake their booty under disco balls at Culture Club, and yet others might like to get into enthusiastic conversation in the retro-time-warp environs of The Fish & Chip shop.

All the bars, cafés and restaurants are in close proximity to each other around a central courtyard so “bar-hopping” is easy and you’ll be able to flit about as you please or stay put if you like where you are.  Another positive of not being tied to a formal dinner venue is that those not officially attending conference will be able to come and hang out.

If you’re a little bit curious about what SOL Square might be like, take a look at the pictures we took on our very strenuous “scouting mission” last month (it’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it) or have a look at the Flickr snaps of others.

If you’ve got any comments to make about the non-trad nature of conference’s social event this year feel free to share them with us.

We’ll be getting into the nitty gritty of the conference programme right here on the blog in coming weeks with our top picks, more info on speakers, guides to the best that Christchurch has to offer and much, much more so check back here often.