Call for Papers 

Independent Libraries Association


Location: Chawton House Library, Chawton, Alton, Hampshire. GU34 1SJ.

Friday 2nd June – Sunday 4th June 2017

Independent libraries occupy a unique place in the world’s cultural life. Rather than seeing independent libraries as niche or elitist, the Financial Times described the UK’s independent libraries as ‘havens of books, conversation and cultural events with histories stretching back centuries.’ The role and function of the independent library is a little-explored area, but growing numbers of scholars and researchers are joining the public in working in and around these institutions. As a space, the independent library generates lively debate around literacy, the role of the state, local and national identity, and cultural value.

The Independent Libraries Association’s second annual conference will focus on issues surrounding ‘building for the future’. This theme can be taken to mean any tactic, project or strategy aimed at preserving any aspect of an independent library. Particular emphasis this year is given to papers that focus on the buildings that house independent libraries: how their history, adaptation, current and future use are an important element of a library’s success. Cataloguing projects, book preservation and conservation, restoration projects, fundraising, volunteer and membership programmes, digitisation, outreach, and/or working with universities and other partnerships are also welcomed under this year’s theme. The Annual Conference also welcomes proposals from those who work outside the independent library sector but who face similar challenges of sustainability.


Held in the atmospheric surroundings of Chawton House Library, this weekend is committed to hearing a variety of perspectives from the UK and beyond.

We welcome contributions that engage with any of the following areas. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: 

  • The built environment: caring for historical spaces, and planning for the future
  • Buildings and heritage: listed buildings, conservation, challenges overcome
  • Rare features and architectural marvels: visible buildings, hidden stories
  • Equitable access to independent libraries: incorporating legislation and/or successes in building adaptation
  • New buildings: challenges and successes in fundraising, design, audience engagement
  • Collaborative working with Higher Ed: research councils, universities, vice-chancellors
  • The jewels in our crowns: collection case studies, rare books, unique archives
  • The independent library in the community: literature, history, culture, heritage
  • Innovative working practices and managing change
  • Research students: projects, research, and discoveries
  • Lifelong learning: readers, interns and volunteers
  • Evaluation of the digital library: social media, online spaces, digitisation
  • Cataloguing challenges
  • Independent library movements across the world
  • The origins of the independent library.

Proposals from anyone in the independent library movement – librarians, academics, volunteers, researchers, students – will be considered. Case studies are welcome. Papers should be limited to twenty minutes. Submissions to by Monday 20th February 2017.