17 – 19 March 2021 :: Virtual Conference

Perhaps there has been no more opportune time for us to examine the transformational power of research libraries. The stress test of Covid-19 has been a considerable challenge for our institutions, but it has also underlined the fundamental importance of research libraries and their vital role in supporting scholarship and research, and also their remarkable tenacity in adapting to a mercurial ‘new normal’. 

The research paradigm is shifting, and the wider context in which we operate grows ever more complex. This year has, in many ways, accelerated some of these changes, including in the overnight shift to a remote, digital working environment, the impact of how research is now approached, conducted and consumed, and the urgent need to overhaul a dysfunctional scholarly publishing system.

Current events have focused our attention on critical activities, but we also wish to look to the long term and how we might achieve an optimal future for the research library, build resilience to what possible futures may bring, and embed true diversity of thought, ideas and experiences within our institutions and practices.

RLUK21 bursary scheme

RLUK is pleased to offer up to 30 bursary places for the #RLUK21 Conference, aimed at early career professionals, those in roles below associate director level, or those who would otherwise not normally attend the event. A number of bursary places will be allocated for BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) candidates.

We welcome applications from all colleagues with a professional interest in the research sector, from the UK, Ireland or internationally. RLUK21 bursaries are NOT restricted to colleagues working in RLUK member institutions. Find out more and apply for the bursary scheme.

Call for submissions – RLUK21 lightning talks: Responding to Covid-19

We welcome submissions for lightning talks that illustrate a practical response or activity that has been implemented as a result of Covid-19. Proposals might demonstrate innovations, best practice, successes and failures, lessons learnt, and short and long-term impacts of the pandemic on our libraries. This call is open to all and you do not need to be from an RLUK member institution to participate.

RLUK21 lightning talks will be a maximum of 10 minutes in length. There will be no other restrictions in terms of the presentation – you may choose to use slides, video or conduct a live or pre-recorded demonstration. Live/pre-recorded demonstrations might include short tours of buildings or spaces, or onsite illustrations of a new service or initiative. 

Submissions should made via this form by Friday 11 December 2020. Any submissions received after this date will not be considered. We aim to notify applicants early in the new year.

RLUK21 sponsor opportunities

If you are interested in sponsoring the RLUK21 Conference please find more details on this page.

Conference theme

#RLUK21 will seek to understand how the transformation of the library, and its transformational power, can shift our thinking, values, services and offer.

Who should attend?

The conference is an excellent opportunity for professionals to connect, discuss and debate together in order to help shape the research library of the 21st century.

The RLUK Conference is open to all.


The RLUK21 Conference will be a virtual event, held from 17-19 March 2021.


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