Call for Proposals

We digitized it — what’s next? Learning from and making use of digitized hidden collections.

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is now seeking session proposals for the 2020 Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives Symposium. Any current or former recipient of a CLIR Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives award (principal investigator or project staff) is welcome to submit a proposal. Proposers may also invite others such as scholars, students, professionals, or community experts to contribute to their proposals and presentations, but each submission must come from a current or former member of a Digitizing Hidden Collections project team. Following the symposium, presenters will be asked to submit papers to be published in a conference proceedings. Detailed guidelines for papers will be posted in advance of proposal decisions.

Event Details:

Dates: November 11-12, 2020
Location: The Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, Baltimore, MD
Affiliated Event CFPs: Separate calls are being issued for the 2020 DLF Forum (November 9-11) and associated preconference day Learn@DLF (November 8), as well as NDSA’s Digital Preservation 2020 (November 11-12), which will take place at the same venue.

— Session proposals are due by Monday, April 27 May 11 at 11:59pm Eastern Time —


Proposals should be relevant to problems today’s collecting institutions and organizations face as they digitize hidden collections and make them accessible to broad audiences. This symposium will be a place to share not only achievements in digitization but also questions and struggles that point toward shared problems that need solutions.

Of particular interest are proposals that relate to the event’s theme (We digitized it—what’s next? Learning from and making use of digitized hidden collections). Topics may include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Community engagement, audience building, and outreach with digitized hidden collections
  • Maximizing the accessibility of digitized collections
  • Countering dominant narratives with digitized collections
  • Digitized collections as data
  • Making digital libraries and archives interoperable
  • Principles and practices for inclusive description of digitized collections
  • Addressing complex rights and ethical issues related to accessing digitized collections
  • Interconnecting digital and physical collections
  • Building equitable partnerships for digitization
  • Sustaining approaches to creating, preserving, and sharing digitized content beyond the end of grant projects
  • Developing professional and institutional capacity through digitization
  • Preparing students and other contingent labor for future employment through work with digitized collections
  • Assessing hidden collections for digitization
  • Assessing use and impact of digitized collections
  • Assessing and improving partnerships with digitization units and/or external service providers
  • Advocating for additional support for creating and sharing digitized collections

Submissions Types:

  • 55-minute panel: Moderated discussions (55 minutes total) revolving around a prominent issue or topic. Panels should include speakers who bring varied backgrounds and viewpoints to the topic, and preference will be given to proposals that thoughtfully include diverse voices. At least 20 minutes of every panel session should be reserved for audience questions. Panel sessions may include up to five participants, one of whom should serve as moderator. Interactive exchanges on next steps and possible community action are especially welcome. Panelists may be invited to submit a jointly authored paper for the conference proceedings following the symposium.
  • 55-minute DIY sessions: Do you have an idea for a 55-minute session that doesn’t fit one of the other categories? Pitch it here. Proposed sessions and/or activities should be appropriate for an audience of 50-100 people.
  • 15-minute paper: Written reflections/essays on one or more of the symposium’s topics. Accepted authors will each have 15 minutes to present their papers at the symposium and will be grouped by the Planning Committee with others exploring similar ideas. Time will be reserved at the end of each group of three papers for questions and answers. Authors agree to submit their full papers for distribution among symposium participants by November 2, 2020 (one week prior to the conference) and will have the opportunity to submit revised versions for publication in the conference proceedings. Up to three presenters will be permitted per paper, although larger teams of authors may be credited in the program and conference proceedings.
  • 5-minute lightning talk: Brief (5-minute) talks about unique experiences or lessons learned from Digitizing Hidden Collections projects will be grouped together by the Planning Committee based on overarching themes or ideas. 
  • Posters: Poster presenters will have the opportunity to interact with symposium participants during the reception on the evening of November 11 to discuss their poster topics and/or demonstrate tools or services they have developed or are using in their library or archives. Presenters will be responsible for printing and transporting their posters. Digital copies of accepted posters will be requested by November 2, 2020 (one week prior to the conference) and presenters can opt to submit them for inclusion in the conference proceedings. More detailed instructions will be provided upon acceptance. 

Submissions of brief “This is How We Do It” demonstration videos and digital posters will be sought as the conference approaches. Please keep an eye out for instructions!

Submission Guidelines:

Proposals of up to 250 words each (up to 500 words for panels) should be submitted using our online system. Proposals must include:

  • a title
  • name(s) and institutional affiliation of the proposer(s) and presenter(s)
  • the associated Hidden Collections project and year the grant was awarded (within the proposal description)
  • a short (50-word) abstract

Submissions Deadline: Monday, April 27 May 11, at 11:59pm Eastern Time. 

Members of the Symposium Planning Committee will review proposals and contribute to shaping the program.

Symposium Registration:

Presenters will be notified in June and will receive a discount on registration. Symposium attendance will be open to anyone with an interest in digitizing special collections and archives, accessible digital collections, describing digital collections, and engaging people with digitized collections. Presenters, students, and current and former contributors to Digitizing Hidden Collections-funded projects will have opportunities to apply for up to 60 travel scholarships; these will be made available to those who apply and demonstrate the need for external support to attend. The Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program and the 2020 Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives Symposium are made possible through the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Sign up for the CLIR grants mailing list to receive updates on the event throughout 2020.

If you have any questions contact

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