Collaboration Conference 2020: Regretfully Cancelled

Gareth J Johnson

A statement concerning the planned 2020 Conference, and the next steps for a major event from the Collaboration

With profound regrets, the Conference Committee announces that this year’s planned conference Dissolving Barriers has been cancelled.

With the onset of the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK the Committee took the decision, with the support of the Steering Group, to press forward with our plans to still host an event this year, albeit pivoted to an online only format. It was our profound hope we would still be able to engender the togetherness and convivial exchanges of experience across our regional members previous events have created. With the agreed diversity theme increasingly relevant within academic library services, there were high expectations that an exceptional event could be created.

However, with the close of the call for session submissions, it is evident we have experienced a significant shortfall in session proposals. With only nine weeks remaining until the planned early September event date, it has become clear a viable event of the required quality, breadth and interest embodied by prior conferences would be impractical.

We wish to formally thank everyone who took the time and effort to draft a session proposal. As each session was potentially worthy of broader appreciation, our hope is these can still be utilised within future special interest group events. We would also like to acknowledge our thanks to those commercial organisations who had expressed interest in supporting our conference this year and hope we can discuss your backing for future events soon.

This is not, however, the end.

The Collaboration remains committed to hosting an annual event as an invaluable networking and development opportunity for sharing best practice activity across the region’s academic libraries. It is also recognised that there is a genuine demand for such a major, regional, academic library event, based on the feedback of delegates to prior conferences.

Consequently, the Conference Group Committee will be meeting in a few weeks to take stock and reflect on events, before moving forward to consider the form, format and formulation of future flagship events. While outline planning for the annual conference for 2021 will begin soon, it is hoped in the interim we may be able to move forward with a smaller-scale cross-Collaboration event. Potentially this may draw on speakers and/or themes encapsulated in the 2020 conference. We will announce more about this as our plans take shape.

The Mercian Collaboration Chair, Diane Job, and Conference Group Chair, Claire Browne, would especially like to take this opportunity acknowledge the considerable behind-the-scenes effort and enthusiasm by every member of the Conference Group Committee. We look forward to working with them on planning our next flagship event. We are also keen to recruit new people from across the Collaboration’s member library staff to serve on the Conference Committee for the next two years, to provide vital support in shaping, planning and running future major events.


For more information on the Conference Group and their activities, please see the relevant special interest group pages. For general information or questions concerning the Collaboration, please contact Dr Gaz J Johnson via