Annual International Event

The Collective Annual Gathering


Next gathering: March 11-13, 2020 - Knoxville, TN


The Collective is a conference-like coming together of next-generation librarians but without all the things that make regular conferences suck.

Here's 6 of the many ways we're different:

  1. EVEN FOOTING: Everyone who attends is an active participant and pays an equally low registration fee. Celebrity culture is for tabloids, not conferences. 

  2. ACTIVE LEARNING: We emphasize skill-building, tangible takeaways, and networking. No “CV filler” or“sage on a stage” presentations here!

  3. LOW COST: Designed for affordability, those within driving distance of Knoxville should be able to cover all associated costs of attendance for around $500.

  4. PARTNERSHIPS, NOT SALES: We think developing relationships with vendors is far more effective than hard sales, so we program real discussions rather than sales pitches.

  5. PRACTITIONER-FOCUSED: While administrators can certainly bring a wealth of knowledge and level of expertise, we believe that the ratio of admins to front-line workers should be reflective of the real-world landscape. 

  6. NON-PROFIT: Our event is put on by volunteers who give their time in service to the profession. We do not profit off of registration fees; in fact, attendance costs are subsidized for all participants thanks to our hard fundraising work. 

Oh, yeah, and our registration is under $100!

Conference Cost Comparison

This chart compares the total cost of attending nine well established library conferences, based on 2019 data. “Total cost” uses the lowest hotel room price listed & reflects the registration fee plus 3 hotel nights for each event. The data reveals that the cost of attending The Collective is roughly 1/3 of the cost of the typical library conference with an unparalleled registration fee in terms of affordability.

What takes place at The Collective?

The gathering consists of three fun nights and two full days.

The program schedule and content is set by YOU, the participants. Learn more about our unique program planning here.

Morning kickoff sessions consist of interactive plenaries and panels, followed by more takeaway-driven afternoon sessions and lightning talks.

Extended lunchtimes offer an opportunity for discussion of special topics among shared interest groups or informal gatherings in our "unconference" spaces--the IdeaLibrary and Tinker Lab.  Aside from a longer afternoon "wrap-up" plenary discussion on the second day, evenings are reserved for informal networking and exploration of the Knoxville arts and culture scene. 

Our opening night reception is a festive, themed dinner with live music in downtown Knoxville and we also plan an optional library-themed pub crawl or other social event for the closing night! 

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.



How do we make all this magic happen? It's no big secret, just great sponsors who "get it" and a lot of hard work!

P.S. We've documented our process to help like-minded individuals join the revolution and start their own unique gatherings. 


Here's what The Collective looks like.

Note: There's a lot of meeting people, conversations, and hands-on workshops. If you're looking to listen to lectures, sit in the back by yourself, or not engage with others, this is not the conference for you!