Call for Proposals

2021 DLF Forum & Learn@DLF Call for Proposals


CLIR’s Digital Library Federation invites proposals for the 2021 DLF Forum (November 1-3) and Learn@DLF (November 8-10), our workshop series, both held online this year. A separate call will be issued for Digital Preservation 2021, the annual conference of the NDSA (November 4).

The Forum is a meeting place, a marketplace, and a congress for digital library practitioners from DLF member institutions and the broader community. Now that our events will take place virtually for a second time, we look forward to new and better ways to come together—as always, with community at the center. 

Therefore, our guiding focus for this year’s Forum is sustaining our community. Relentless innovation, disruptive change, and constant demands on our time and energy rarely allow for a pause to assess how we got here. Sustenance comes in many forms and while it allows for growth, it is also an end in itself. How can we then shift our focus to prioritize the sustaining and nurturing of ourselves and our communities while still pushing for greater openness and inclusivity? 

Pervasive racism persists and contributes to wrenching inequalities in the United States, especially among our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. CLIR has long recognized this inequity; diversity, social justice, and broad access to cultural heritage have been integral to our mission. In 2021, we reaffirm our commitment to pursuing greater equity and justice throughout the DLF Forum, working with our entire community toward an inclusivity that prizes the chorus of diverse voices needed for systemic change. As such, the planning committee will again prioritize submissions from BIPOC people and people working at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other BIPOC-centered libraries, archives, and museums. We therefore have self-identification options in the proposal submission form.

For all events, we encourage proposals from DLF members and non-members; regulars and newcomers; digital library practitioners and those in adjacent fields such as institutional research and educational technology; and students, early-career professionals and senior staff alike. Proposals to more than one event are permitted, though please submit different proposals for each.

Our Events

  • The DLF Forum will take place Monday, November 1 through Wednesday, November 3, 2021.
  • Digital Preservation 2021: Embracing Digitality will take place on Thursday, November 4, 2021. More information on that event can be found here:
  • Learn@DLF is a series of workshops offered the week after the DLF Forum, November 8-10, 2021.

About Presenting

  • Accepted presentations and panels will be delivered via pre-recorded video. This format allows for flexible watch times and speeds, captioning, and avoids many technical challenges.
  • Videos must be submitted by Wednesday, September 15. Presenters will receive support in the form of tutorials, resources, and individual assistance.
  • Presenters will be expected to be in attendance and available during their presentation time for live Q&A (chat-based or video, format TBD).
  • To make space for as many voices as possible, individuals may present only once on the Forum program.
  • The DLF Forum is explicitly designed to enact and support the DLF community’s values, and we strive to create a safe, accessible, welcoming, and inclusive event that reflects our Code of Conduct.

Submissions & Evaluation

Based on community feedback and the work of our Program Committee, we welcome submissions geared toward a practitioner audience that:

  • Clearly engage with DLF’s mission of advancing research, learning, social justice, and the public good through the creative design and wise application of digital library technologies
  • Activate and inspire participants to think, make, and do
  • Engage people from different backgrounds, experience levels, and disciplines
  • Include clear take-aways that participants can implement in their own work

Submission Formats

Sessions are invited in the following lengths and formats:

At the DLF Forum, November 1-3:

  • 45-minute Panels: A panel discussion of three to four speakers on a unified topic, with an emphasis on the discussion. A maximum of four speakers is allowed per submission. Proposals with representative and inclusive speaker involvement will be favored by the committee, and all-male-identifying panels will not be accepted. The main goals of the panel format at the DLF Forum are to bring together diverse perspectives on a topic and to encourage a community discussion of panelists’ approaches or findings.
  • 15-minute Presentations: A presentation by one to two speakers on a single topic or project. A maximum of two speakers is allowed per submission. Presentations will be grouped by the program committee based on overarching themes or ideas.
  • 5-minute Lightning Talks: High-profile, high-energy lightning talks held in plenary, with the opportunity to point attendees to contact information and additional materials online. No more than two speakers are allowed per submission.
  • 25-minute Birds of a Feather (BOAF) Sessions: Working on a project on which you’d like feedback? Have a question you want to ponder with other interested people? New this year, 25-minute BOAF sessions are live video discussion sections where folks can discuss a topic of the proposer’s choice. These are roundtables where ideas can be shared and questions can be asked in the spirit of shared knowledge.


At Learn@DLF, November 8-10:

  • 90-minute Workshops: Live, in-depth, hands-on training sessions on specific tools, techniques, workflows, or concepts. All workshop organizers are asked to provide details on technology needed, participant proficiency level, and learning outcomes for participants. Workshops must be interactive and inclusive, and the strongest proposals will demonstrate this clearly. Interested in presenting something longer? Consider submitting a ‘part I’ (morning session) and ‘part II’ (afternoon session).
  • 10-15-minute Tutorials: Pre-recorded training sessions or demonstrations between 10 to 15 minutes in length about specific tools, techniques, workflows, or concepts.

Proposal Requirements

  • Proposal title
  • Submission format and event: Varies by event
  • First and last names, organizational affiliations, and email addresses for all authors / presenters
  • Abstract (50 words max)
  • Proposal (250 works max for all formats except for panels and workshops, up to 500 words)
  • Five keywords for your proposal

Submit using our online system:


As in previous years, all submissions will be peer reviewed. Broader DLF community input will also be solicited through an open community voting process, which will inform the Program Committee’s final decisions. Selected presenters will be notified over the summer and will have a minimum of four weeks to prepare their recordings.

We are still looking for sponsors for this year’s events! If you or someone you know may be interested, check out our sponsorship opportunities or contact us.


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