6th August 2021

National Libraries Now 2021 Digital Conference

Registration Now Open

National Libraries Now 2021: International Perspectives on Library Curation 

Digital conference 16 – 17 September 2021

We are delighted to open registration for the inaugural National Libraries Now Conference, exploring the state of national library curation now, interrogating the complex challenges we face in building and interpreting collections, and the practical approaches that are being taken to address them. What does it mean to work in a national library now? What new possibilities are there for international collaboration?

We received an overwhelming response from library professionals all over the world and the full programme will be published very soon. Topics include:

  • Countering bias in collections and national libraries
  • Interrogating “national” heritage
  • Legal deposit
  • Multilingual collecting
  • Pandemic responses
  • Born-digital collections
  • Exhibitions and interpretation
  • Future libraries
  • Sustainability
  • Digital tools
  • Literary archives
  • Community collaboration
  • Wikimedia
  • Digital humanities
  • Preservation

All presentations will be pre-recorded and made available for attendees to view on the website at least 10 days before the conference. The conference will then bring together the panels to discuss their presentations, followed by Q&A with the audience.

To register for the conference (free), please complete this form. Over the next few weeks, you will then receive updates on the conference (programme, speaker biographies, abstracts), links to the pre-recorded panel presentations, and links to the conference itself via Zoom webinar.


Instead of keynotes, we are excited to host a series of “Interventions” spread throughout the conference. They will be provocative, challenging and inspiring responses to the broad question “What is a National Library?”. These Interventions will be standalone moments of reflection for the conference, hopefully made available on the website thereafter as a lasting legacy. Our line-up of Interventions is currently:

Gish Amit is a writer and educator, based in Israel. He is the author of Ex-Libris: Chronicles of Theft, Preservation, and Appropriation at the Jewish National Library (2014). His Intervention will trace the looting of books owned by Palestinians in the 1948 War.

Khairani Barokka is a Minang-Javanese writer and artist, Research Fellow at UAL’s Decolonising Arts Institute, and Associate Artist at Delfina Foundation and the National Centre for Writing (UK). Okka’s latest book is Ultimatum Orangutan (2021, Nine Arches).

Alberto Manguel is an Argentinian-Canadian writer, translator and critic of international significance, and former Director of the National Library of Argentina. He is also author of A History of Reading (1996) and The Library at Night (2006).

Nathan “mudyi” Sentance is a Wiradjuri librarian and museum educator who grew up on Darkinjung Country. Nathan currently works at the Australian Museum as the Digital Program manager and writes about critical librarianship and critical museology from a First Nations perspective. His writing has been previously published in The Guardian, Cordite Poetry, The Lifted Brow and the Sydney Review of Books, and on his own blog The Archival Decolonist. 

Sam van Schaik is Head of the Endangered Archives Programme at the British Library, and is a scholar of early Tibetan manuscripts and culture. His most recent book is Buddhist Magic (2020).

D-M Withers writes about cultural dynamics in feminist publishing and history. They were a curatorial consultant on the British Library exhibition Unfinished Business: the Fight for Women’s Rights (2020) and co-author of The Feminist Revolution (2018). D-M’s book Feminism, Digital Culture and the Politics of Transmission: Theory, Practice and Cultural Heritage won the 2016 Feminist Studies Association book prize. Their latest book Virago Reprints and Modern Classics: The Timely Business of Feminist Publishing (2021) is published by Cambridge University Press. Currently, D-M is Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing at the University of Reading. Their intervention will focus on how National Libraries craft valuable spaces of care and curiosity.

These Interventions promise to challenge the conventional understanding of national libraries, their histories, function and futures… and we can’t wait!

All questions about the conference can be directed to NLN2021@bl.uk and in the meantime please register (for free) using the registration form.

NLN Conference Team

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