18th Distance Library Services Conference: About

URL: https://libguides.cmich.edu/dls2018

Important Dates

Early Bird Registration


April 11-13, 2018

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For conference-related questions, please contact:

Thad Dickinson
Conference Coordinator


Phone: (770) 933-7669

About the Conference

The Distance Library Services Conference is a biennial event that has been in existence since 1982. It serves as a forum to discuss, demonstrate, and champion the techniques, trends, and theories of providing library services 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 Pittsburgh, PA (2016); 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 self-supporting, with encouragement and backing from the Central Michigan University Libraries. Central Michigan University has been a leader in distance education since 1971.


The purpose of the Distance Library Services Conference is to provide a forum for exchanging ideas, strategies, techniques, perspectives, and pertinent research related to providing library resources and services at a distance and online.

The program aspires to reflect the geographic, philosophic, and programmatic diversity in distance librarianship through invited speakers, paper presentations, panel discussions, poster sessions, and workshops. 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.

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.

Conference attendees often ask about the location of the next conference, and the truth is, we do not know! 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

After at least five cities are selected as possible locations, we work with HelmsBriscoe to submit Requests for Proposals (RFP) to hotels in each city. 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 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 variables. 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 financial 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 expenses plays a big role in selecting a location for the conference.

So, as you can see, many factors 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!

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 Executive Board is comprised of distance education librarians and staff from CMU's University Libraries and are designated by an asterisk.

Amanda Albert, Washington University in St. Louis

Moushumi Chakraborty, Salisbury University

*Monica Craig, Central Michigan University

*Thad Dickinson, Central Michigan University

Denise Gullikson, Mohave Community College - Bullhead City

Natalie Haber, University of Tennessee - Chattanooga

Pat Hamilton, National American University

Andrea Hebert, Louisiana State University

*Julie LaDell-Thomas, Central Michigan University

Kelly McCallister, Appalachian State University

Robert Miller, University of Maryland University College

Ariel Orlov, Adler University

*Timothy Peters, Central Michigan University

Marcia Rapchak, Duquesne University

*Rebecca Renirie, Central Michigan University

*Ere Rumsey, Central Michigan University

*Jennifer Rundels, Central Michigan University

Brenda Smith, Thompson Rivers University

Christine Tobias, Michigan State University

Brandon West, SUNY - Geneseo

Digital copies of past conference proceedings are available below. Permission to use and reproduce proceedings content publicly available through this page is automatically granted by the rights holder provided that the source of the content is properly acknowledged.