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17th Distance Library Services Conference: About


Important Dates

Call for Proposals


Conference Begins
April 20, 2016

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  • Phone: 770-933-7669

About the Conference

Formerly known as the Off-Campus Library Services Conference, the Distance Library Services Conference is a biennial event that has been in existence since 1982. This conference brings together librarians, administrators, and educators to discuss, demonstrate, and champion the techniques, trends, and theories of providing library services to students and faculty at a distance and in the online environment. This information is made available to all who have an interest in the field of distance librarianship through formal proceedings and the publication of conference papers in the Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning. 

The conference has been held in Denver, CO (2014); Memphis, TN (2012); Cleveland, OH (2010); Salt Lake City, UT (2008); Savannah, GA (2006); Scottsdale, AZ (2004); Cincinnati, OH (2002); Portland, OR (2000); Providence, RI (1998); San Diego, CA (1995); Kansas City, MO (1993); Albuquerque, NM (1991); Charleston, SC (1988); Reno, NV (1986); Knoxville, TN (1985); and St. Louis, MO (1982).

The Distance Library Services Conference is international in both scope and participation, attracting academic, corporate, medical, and military librarians from the United States, Australia, Canada, England, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, and the West Indies.

The conference is sponsored by Central Michigan University Libraries and Global Campus. It is planned and hosted by Central Michigan University's Global Campus Library Services.


The purpose of the Distance Library Services Conference is to provide a forum where practitioners and administrators involved with providing library resources and services to students and faculty at a distance and online can exchange ideas, concerns, perspectives, and pertinent research.

The program aspires to reflect the geographic, philosophic, and programmatic diversity in distance librarianship through a keynote speaker, concurrent paper presentations, panel discussions, poster sessions, and workshops. Learning Forward Sessions help to provide closure to the conference by offering attendees the opportunity to discuss what they learned and how they intend to use their new knowledge. The conference also looks to encourage participation by and increase networking opportunities for professionals new to the field of distance librarianship through the Distance Library Services Conference Award.

The 17th Distance Library Services Conference will be organized around five general tracks that reflect the interests and concerns of professionals working in the area of distance librarianship:

  • Administration & Management
  • Assessment
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Marketing
  • Teaching & Learning

In addition to the formal program, opportunities for informal networking and discussions among participants are provided. Meals are included as part of the registration fee to foster a sense of community and encourage networking.

During each conference, attendees often ask about the location of the next conference, and as much as we would like to provide a concrete answer, the truth is, we don't know yet! The search for the next conference location does not start until after the last conference ends. This gives the Executive Board time to review the conference evaluations to learn about what did and did not work with the previous location, and we use this feedback when planning the next conference. A combination of factors are considered when evaluating a location for the conference.


Though it is not a hard and fast rule the conference alternates its location across the Mississippi River. This practice ensures that travel for attendees across the country and internationally is more evenly distributed. It is the first factor taken into consideration when looking for the next location.


The host city plays an important role in the success of the conference. When evaluating a city, we consider several factors, including:

  • Ease and cost of travel to the city
  • Public transportation options
  • Diversity of restaurants
  • Variety of local attractions
  • Attendee appeal and safety
  • Average April weather

At least five cities are initially selected as possible locations and a Request for Proposals (RFP) is submitted to each city's Convention & Visitors Bureau. The RFP details the conference's needs and expectations and the number and quality of qualifying hotels helps to focus our search. With an average attendance between 250-300 attendees, our conference is too small to be cost effective for most convention centers and large meeting facilities, so we focus our search on convention hotels.


When evaluating hotel offers, our conference planners have a lot to consider, including:

  • Location
  • Meeting and banquet rooms (number, size, quality, etc.)
  • Room rates
  • Technology
  • Menus
  • Ambiance

Aside from those more obvious factors, our conference planners also have to take into account less-visible hotel expenses. For instance, if we are not able to meet the food and beverage minimum or book all the guest rooms reserved for the conference, we can face substantial penalties. The Distance Library Services Conference is self-sustaining, and with little exception, the budget for our conference depends on registration fees received from the previous conference. The willingness of hotels to negotiate on these and other expenses plays a big role in selecting a location for the conference.

So, as you can see, there are many factors that go into our decision on where to hold the conference. In the end it comes down to the best match between the location and the conference requirements. For instance, a hotel may have great meeting space but its location relative to other city attractions may not be ideal, or a city may be a great destination but airfare or room rates may be too high to attract many attendees. The cities and hotels that ultimately host the conference are those that are best able to meet the requirements we feel are necessary for a great conference experience!

Please visit the About section of the most recent Distance Library Services Conference for an up-to-date listing of proceedings.

The Conference Advisory Board is comprised of members of the distance librarianship community who were selected to provide valuable feedback on conference proposals and planning and to serve as volunteers during the conference. The conference's Executive Board is comprised of the staff from CMU's Global Campus Library Services and are designated by an asterisk.

Michele Behr, Western Michigan University

Stefanie Buck, Oregon State University

Anne Casey, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

*Monica Craig, Central Michigan University

*Thad Dickinson, Central Michigan University

Allison Embry, Rogers State University

Jack Fritts, Benedictine University

*Carly Gee, Central Michigan University

Catherine Gray, Idaho State University - Idaho Falls

Julie Harding, University of Maryland University College

Michelle Keba, Palm Beach Atlantic University

*Julie LaDell-Thomas, Central Michigan University

Nia Lam, University of Washington Bothell & Cascadia Community College

Carrie Ludovico, University of Richmond

Tara Mawhinney, McGill University

*Timothy Peters, Central Michigan University

Kathleen Pickens, Cincinnati State University

*Rebecca Renirie, Central Michigan University

*Jennifer Rundels, Central Michigan University

Amanda VerMeulen, College of Southern Maryland

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