Call for Session Proposals: Conference 2021

Mercian Conference Group

At last the time is here to get involved in this year's conference. Find out how you can propose a session!

We are delighted to announce the call for session proposals for this year’s Mercian Collaboration Conference: Adaptation and Growth in Times of Adversity

This online event takes place over two half days, on the 9th and 10th of September. It is the fourth Collaboration conference and will once again draw library staff together from across the region to learn and explore. Hosted and organised by the Collaboration’s dedicated Conference Group, the event will be open to all UK academic library staff, and offered at no cost to delegates or their institutions.

Theme: Adaptation and Growth in Times of Adversity 
The 2020/2021 academic year has been uniquely challenging for university libraries and their staff. Moving resources and services online whilst navigating the space-related issues associated with lockdown regulations, has provided a real-time test of our operational ‘agility.’ At the same time, staff have found themselves working from home; maybe juggling child-care and family responsibilities, whilst still providing high quality library support to students and staff. Others may have been furloughed, or required to keep library services operating on COVID-compliant campuses. Working practices for all have radically changed.

Although challenging, this disconnect from previous practice could also be a catalyst for future personal and organisational change.

This conference aims to address some key questions:

  • What have you learned from the experience of providing your services during lockdown? 
  • What tips can you share about developing or sustaining personal effectiveness and resilience during times of adversity?
  • What insights into the needs of library users have your new ways of working given you? 
  • How can you apply what you have learned from the lockdowns to improve the services you provide? 
  • Have the changes accelerated or hindered your plans for inclusivity? 

Whether you’d like to share a case study, a personal experience or an operational tip, we’d like to hear from you. 

Session Formats

This year’s conference will take place online and we welcome proposals from potential speakers for sessions in the following formats:

  • 50 minute presentation or workshop (including 10 mins Q&A)
  • 10 minute presentations (can be pre-recorded)
  • 2-5 minute minute pre-recorded ‘Reasons to be cheerful’

Presentations and workshops can be proposed on any topic which broadly aligns with the conference theme, and may be co-presented if wished. For Reasons to be Cheerful sessions we welcome anecdotal contributions which focus less on service delivery and more on the personal impact of the changes you have seen. For example (but not limited to):

  • How has your commute changed?
  • How have you adapted to working from home?
  • What new hobbies have you taken up?
  • How have you kept up to date with your colleagues?

First Time Presenters

The Conference Group is keen for library staff who may not have presented or spoken at an event before to submit proposed sessions. Potential first time presenters are warmly invited to contact the conference team for support in preparing their session proposal (

Submitting your Session Proposal

If for any reason you cannot access the form, please contact Laura Newman ( to request it in an alternative format 

>>>Submission Deadline is 18th June<<<

Next Steps & Further Information

Proposals will be reviewed by the Conference Group, and all applicants will be contacted by early July with the result of their submission. Due to the number of proposals anticipated, we regret that feedback will not be automatically provided on individual submissions. In choosing the successful proposals the Conference Group will seek to balance topic, institution and speaker diversity. Note, sessions from speakers external to the Collaboration will be considered, where there is space, but first preference is given to proposals from  within the Collaboration membership. Non-academic library speaker proposals will not normally be considered.

For more information on the Mercian Collaboration 2021 Conference, visit our new dedicated microsite. More information will be added over the coming months. Alternatively, contact the Group Chair (, any the Conference Group or via our general email (