Session Formats

ACRL 2017 offers a variety of options for participation and features eight session formats to suit a wide range of presentation and learning styles.

Check out the chart for a quick glance of our different session formats.  Detailed descriptions follow below.  Find the format that’s right for you!

Session Format Session Length Audience Size Requirements
Contributed papers 20 minutes 200-400 people 2,500+ word paper due 2/1/2017.  Provide electronic handouts
Panel sessions 60 minutes 200-400 people Provide electronic handouts
Poster sessions 60 minutes – presentation repeated multiple times during time block Flow in exhibit hall Provide physical and electronic (PDF) versions of poster.  Provide electronic handouts
Preconference Six hours 30-65 people Provide electronic handouts
Roundtable discussions 60 minutes Up to 20 people, including facilitator(s) Provide electronic handouts
TechConnect presentations 20 minutes 250 people Provide electronic handouts
Virtual Conference webcasts 60 minutes 100-200 people Attend presenter orientation.  Provide electronic handouts
Workshops Two or three hours 64 people Provide electronic handouts


Session Format Descriptions

The Contributed Papers committee invites research and position papers that challenge current assumptions and provoke conference participants to think creatively about issues facing academic and research librarians. Papers may report the results of completed research, describe research in progress, or present a position on a compelling problem or issue relevant to one or more of the conference tags. Research papers should highlight the problem, results, and conclusions while very briefly touching on method.  The paper must be delivered in a maximum of 20 minutes, including time for Q&A, and presenters are expected to discuss their ideas rather than read their papers.  Completed papers should be about 2,500-5,000 words and should be scholarly, well organized, clearly written, and rigorously argued.  The paper should be prepared according to The Chicago Manual of Style and should include a bibliography of cited references (in addition to the 2,500-5,000 words).  Papers must be provided no later than February 1, 2017, and will be published in the online conference proceedings.

Panel sessions bring together the perspectives of two to four presenters into a cohesive conversation of innovative ideas, current topics, and salient issues regarding the evolving and transformative nature of academic and research libraries. Lasting 60 minutes (including time for Q&A), these sessions are intended to engage audience members in thinking about or participating in discussions surrounding the multiple perspectives presented and their potential impact on current and future professional practice. Sessions will be selected based on their relevance to academic libraries and librarianship; clarity of purpose and intended outcomes for the audience; and the overall contribution to the conference as a mechanism for moving the profession forward.

Poster sessions provide an opportunity for informal, interactive presentation, and discussion of diverse topics in the field of library and information science. Authors are invited to submit proposals related to innovative projects, best practices, and original research findings. Posters should be eye-catching visual representations of a topic, including graphics, tables, charts, text, and/or images. Proposals should include a brief abstract, place an emphasis on the unique value of the work, and summarize contributions or results being presented. A maximum of two presenters per poster is recommended and presenters will have 60 minutes to present their content multiple times during the time block.  The selection committee will evaluate proposals primarily on their potential to stimulate interesting discussion, facilitate the exchange of ideas, and promote collaboration across varied functional areas.  Accepted presenters will need to provide a PDF of their poster for inclusion in the Virtual Conference archive.

Preconferences are full-day programs that focus on a particular subject of interest to academic and research librarians. These programs should allow participants to develop a skill on a specific topic and should focus on interactive learning using a variety of presentation styles.  Preconferences that offer practical tips and cutting-edge techniques, as well as programs that address one or more of the conference’s tags, are especially encouraged.  Preconferences have separate registration fees, so please contact Margot Conahan at ACRL (312-280-2522; during the development of your proposal in order to develop a budget for your session.

Roundtables are small, informal group discussions that give attendees the opportunity to exchange information, discuss best practices, and network with others around common themes and issues. Discussion facilitators should identify and develop a topic that will allow participants to discuss how they are dealing with specific issues at their libraries.  Roundtable discussions are 60 minutes and are limited to approximately twenty individuals per table, including participants and facilitator(s).  Individuals submitting roundtable proposals should address the topics to be covered, their importance to academic libraries, and three questions they would use to keep the discussion moving.

The ACRL 2017 TechConnect Committee is seeking proposals that highlight, explore, and/or uncover technology-focused innovations in any area of academic library work. Do you adapt current applications or tools in unique ways to engage students and faculty? Have you discovered methods to improve library operations by using a technological platform or delivery mechanism? Do you have ideas for new technologies or developmental applications of existing software or hardware? Do you find the use of specific technologies problematic or challenging to our work as librarians? TechConnect Presentations are 20 minutes, can consist of both demonstrative and participatory content, and should include at least five minutes for audience Q&A. A computer, data projector, screen, and microphone will be provided. You will be responsible for bringing all other equipment required for your session, except as agreed to in advance.

The Virtual Conference’s synchronous webcasts allow presenters and attendees to interact online via audio, video, and screen share. This is a great option if you want to present at ACRL 2017 but do not have the time or budget to travel. You may present from the conference location in Baltimore or remotely from another location with a high-speed Internet connection and microphone. Webcasts are 60 minutes long (including Q&A). Choose a relevant, timely topic that lends itself to presentation in an online environment. If your proposal is accepted, you will receive training on how to give an effective virtual presentation using our software system.  Proposals will be evaluated by the following criteria: timeliness of the topic; ability to provoke new ways of thinking, or demonstrate innovative approaches; potential to engage the audience and incorporate active learning; Inclusion of well defined, actionable learning objectives (see Proposal Instructions for guidance on creating learning outcomes); and aappropriateness of the selected conference tags.

Workshops offer two to three contact hours that provide active and in-depth learning. Participants will engage an issue, learn a new skill, or develop an action plan or other activity where hands-on learning is integral. Proposals should allow for significant involvement and contribution to the learning process from the participants.  Proposals will be selected for the conference based on the timeliness of the topic, the stated learning outcomes, interactive exercise(s), and the degree of active learning.  In order to ensure that the sessions really are “hands-on” and provide participants with a tangible skill or action plan by the end of the session, submissions must include an example of an activity you plan to provide as part of the workshop. The description of the activity can be included as part of the long description.  The learning experience should excite and encourage the participants to take risks, question assumptions, and fully engage in the learning process. Participants should leave the session with information to share with their home institutions. Sessions will be limited to 64 participants in order to provide a meaningful environment for active learning.

ACRL conference panelists
ACRL poster session