#RLUK24 Virtual Conference :: 20-22 March 2024

New Frontiers: The expanding scope of the modern research library

The role of the research library continues to expand as formats multiply, technology advances, and the expectations of the research community grow. As in many sectors, AI has the potential to significantly shift the research process, research dissemination, and workflows. All aspects of library activity could be impacted, from content creation, cataloguing and metadata, through to interactions with researchers. But with these exciting possibilities come ethical considerations and the need to consider the impact on both staff and users of libraries. RLUK24 seeks to consider the potential of AI but will give space to pause and consider the implications of such rapid and significant change.

Research libraries are placed within larger institutions and the wider communities – both local, national, and international. RLUK24 will investigate the ways in which libraries can align and support institutional strategies, build partnerships, and engage with wider (often new) communities.

As our libraries take on this expanding scope, the skills that library staff need also expand. RLUK24 will look at leadership in a post-pandemic blended world, as well as ways in which we can demonstrate the impact and value of new activities.


About the conference

RLUK24 will be a virtual conference held on 20-22 March 2024.

The conference is open to all, and 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 Call for Papers for RLUK24 is now open – see further details below – and the deadline for submissions is Friday 1 December. Any submissions received after this date will not be accepted.

Why virtual?
Like many other events the RLUK Conference pivoted to online in response to the pandemic in 2021. While there are many benefits of an in-person conference, the virtual space has allowed us to open up our conference in a very positive and inclusive way.

Our online conferences have heard from colleagues from across the research and academic library community, here in the UK and Ireland and much further afield, and our accessible online pricing has allowed us to welcome a much wider audience to join us in rich and invigorating conference discussions.

The RLUK Conference is a space where we wish to bring all colleagues together, regardless of their geography or career level, so for 2024 we have decided to keep the conference as a virtual event. We hope that you will be able to join us as either a speaker or attendee.

Bursaries and grants

We will provide bursaries and networking grants for in-person watch parties for the RLUK24 Conference. Further information will be provided when registration opens in January 2024.

Call for papers


RLUK24 is an open, international conference. We welcome submissions from all colleagues who share our commitment to reshape scholarship and the role of the research library, and we look forward to hearing from a range of voices that will challenge, disrupt and inspire us.

The main conference themes will include, but are not limited to, the following: 

Innovation and AI in the library

  • The changing skills required of both library staff and library users  
  • Ethical considerations
  • The changing needs for information literacy
  • Implications for collections – how we collect and how we describe our collections
  • Libraries, Large Language Models and ChatGPT

The library’s role in strategic delivery

  • Role of the library in the delivery of institutional strategy
  • Civic role of universities and libraries
  • Partnerships, local and global
  • Decolonisation and diversification, creating inclusive libraries
  • Libraries in support of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Evolving digital transformations

  • Leadership in a post-pandemic, blended world
  • Development of equitable knowledge infrastructures
  • Expanding content types and services
  • Demonstrating the impact and value of new activities

Submission formats

 will be up to 15 minute presentations, with or without accompanying slides. Proposals may have multiple authors, but should have a maximum of two speakers. Papers may be pre-recorded, but authors should be available during the session for questions and answers. Where possible, papers should relate to the conference sub-themes listed above, but can also relate to other topics pertinent to the conference theme.

Interactive workshops are up to 2 hour practical sessions focused on the themes of the conference. All workshop proposals should clearly demonstrate a high level of interactivity and audience participation. Workshops may utilise virtual networking spaces, online collaborative tools and may also include breakout groups.

 are discussions engineered for smaller groups that may focus on a specific theme, offer opportunities for networking, and facilitate peer-to-peer experience sharing. Submissions should include details of a moderator and up to four speakers. 

Provocations have a moderator and up to four ‘provocateurs’ to deliver short (no more than 5 minutes) verbal presentations on a single theme, and then discussions will open up to members of the audience. This format is a way to interrogate an issue from different perspectives, and as the title suggests, these perspectives should offer an intellectual challenge to assumed or accepted norms.

Hackathons/solution rooms may or may not have a technological focus, however, the crux of this format is to bring people together for creative problem solving of a particular topic or issue. Proposals should articulate clear objectives for the session, and an idea of desirable solutions or outcomes.

Submission guidelines

The deadline for submissions is by close of business on Friday 1 December 2023.

The conference organisers welcome submissions from all colleagues with a professional interest in the issues affecting research libraries, and we look forward to hearing from a range of voices that will challenge, disrupt and inspire us, including those from underrepresented groups. 

Those unfamiliar with the RLUK Conference can view previous presentations by clicking on ‘previous events’ in the top navigation bar. If you are new to the RLUK Conference and would like to have an informal chat about submitting a proposal, please do get in touch with one of our conference mentors, who can offer general advice only about the conference and submissions:

 All RLUK24 submissions should include:

  • Name, job title and organisation of all speakers 
  • Submission title
  • The theme that your paper/workshop/session applies to. We welcome themes that are not listed above but that are related to our overall theme
  • A short summary of no more than 100 words. If your submission is selected for the conference, this summary will be published in the conference programme
  • An abstract of no more than 500 words
  • Any scheduling conflicts for speakers

Successful submissions will be eligible for complimentary conference tickets (up to two speakers for papers, up to four speakers for workshops and hackathons; up to five places for roundtables and provocations). RLUK will not be able to cover any other incidental costs for speakers.

Please note: the information submitted via the RLUK24 call for papers submission form will be held by RLUK in accordance with its data privacy policy. Further details of this policy can be found here: https://www.rluk.ac.uk/privacy-notice/.

Occasionally the RLUK Conference organisers may suggest a submission is delivered in a different format than that initially proposed. Authors will be fully consulted in this instance.


Submissions will be reviewed by the RLUK Conference Committee, and will be judged on the following criteria:

Relevance: submissions should address the topics and challenges highlighted in the conference theme, or others that will be of relevance and interest to our audience.

Approach: for workshops and interactive sessions we are looking for submissions that demonstrate a high level of interaction, and are clear on the benefits and value they will bring to the conference and delegates

Innovative thinking: we are keen to receive submissions that break new ground or tackle new perspectives on the conference themes

Occasionally the RLUK Conference organisers may suggest a submission is delivered in a different format than that which was initially proposed. Authors will be fully consulted in this instance.