The ethos of the Library Test Kitchen is to build libraries that mirror the communities they inhabit, where the page and the screen jostle in sometimes random, sometimes coordinated ways; where creation and rest, clamor and quiet move through public spaces in balletic chaos — and where library patrons find wonder, serendipity, and that endangered virtue—‘a moment of pause.’
— Anne Gray Fischer, Boston Globe

A few years back, Harvard University offered a design seminar that engaged students in designing and building future library machines called Library Test Kitchen and a multi-year innovation initiative called The Harvard Library Lab to " fashion the information society of the future." In the years since, where are the librarians who are incubating the future of our profession, our buildings, our skillsets, and our job descriptions? Why, at The Collective, of course. 

So, in 2018, we ask you to propose sessions that push the edge of librarianship and to create a test kitchen environment within our gathering where we will try out “recipes” for next-generation librarianship. We invite proposals for hands-on experiments and workshops featuring, among other possibilities, idea generation, prototyping, and creation of new paradigms for the things we make and do as part of our everyday in/as/as part of libraries. 

From how to reinvent and rethink the library catalog to a reimagining of what libraries should be checking out (things? people? expertise? viz spaces?) to how we curate and create collections, the only limit to how to approach this theme is your imagination. 

N.B.: Sessions should be hands-on, skill-building, or conversation-driven. While active mistake-making and experiment failure will be embraced on site, keynote, “sage-on-a-stage” presentations, or sales pitches will not. We also highly discourage reusing presentations or proposals from other events. 

We invite you to present a perspective of your own on this theme by proposing highly interactive sessions that may consist of hands-on workshops, conversations, small group activities, or other innovative and takeaway-driven formats. We also welcome ideas for our IdeaLibrary (book, game, and inspiration library) & TinkerLab (mobile makerspace and demo area).

2018 Key Dates & Timeline

JuLy 10 - August 28-  Session Picker Open

September 5 - Invitations to Round Two

September 20 - Round Two Proposals Due

September - October - Peer Review

November 8 - Program Announced & REGISTRATION OPEN

(Additional CFPs Will also be announced at this time!)

How do we program The Collective?

We invite library practitioners to propose sessions to see at The Collective and, just as importantly, to participate in our transparent decision-making process using our Session Picker during the Summer/Fall before the gathering. After the public process closes, proposals undergo a double-blind peer review, followed by a third and final review by the Programming Committee.

Past Themes & Programs

2017 Theme: Make It Beautiful, Make It Usable

With a nod to Tractinsky, Katz, & Ikar, in 2017, we ask you to consider how aesthetics and utility are at the core of the work we do in libraries and as librarians, archivists, and information specialists.

From designing library instruction to renovating spaces to creating elegant discovery platforms, how might we seek more beauty and usability in our exhibitions, projects, programming, services, collections, and instruction?


2016 Theme: Adopt, Adapt, Evolve: Reinvigorating & Rejuvenating Our Libraries

Increasingly libraries are hubs where new technologies and ideas are incubated and incorporated into common practice. We adopt new tech, adapt new tools for use by our organizations and our patrons, and are constantly evolving to better serve users and become more empowered keepers of our cultural records. From eBooks to social media, 3-D printing to big data, libraries evolve through adopting the new and adapting both new and old tools for innovative and creative uses.

2015 Theme: Libraries as Curators & Creators

The role of libraries, archives, and librarians is rapidly changing, especially as our spaces come to incorporate 3-D printers, in-house digital collections, and makerspaces. As we create and curate collections, experiences, and spaces for our users, what are some of the challenges and opportunities that we might encounter? What are the necessary skills for 21st century librarians who find themselves in the role of curator and/or creator? Join us as we explore this theme while learning, creating, and collaborating together!