Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities 2016 - Collections, Connections, Collaborations: From potential to impact

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Call for Papers
May 9, 2016
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Digital Humanities, Humanities, Library and Information Science, Public History, Research and Methodology

What: Collections, connections, collaborations: From potential to impact


When: Monday, 10th – Wednesday, 12th October 2016


Where: The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ


Call for Papers:


This year’s conference will look at the varied and innovative ways in which archives, museums, libraries, and academia can help realise the potential of collections and translate this into social, cultural, and economic impact.


In the last decade, notions of impact have risen to the forefront of discourse and debate within the heritage, research, and academic sectors. As budgets across the heritage sector have retracted, organisations of every size and shape have had to review their working practices, and look at qualifying and quantifying the impact of their collections and activities, and their relation to wider social, cultural and economic agendas. Nationwide initiatives, such as the commemoration of the First World War, Magna Carta or Shakespeare’s death, have provided high-profile opportunities to showcase the wider impact that collections can have on the public consciousness, and our collective understanding of our past, our present, and our future. In addition to these high-profile examples, heritage organisations have continued to reach new audiences, in new ways, to widen the social and cultural impact of their collections as a part of their daily work, eroding perceived barriers of geography and discipline. 


Simultaneously, academics, research bodies, and universities are actively considering the social, cultural and economic impact of their research, and are exploring innovative ways through which this can be demonstrated, as a part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Heritage and cultural organisations have shown themselves as valuable partners in the achievement, dissemination, and demonstration of impact for academic research, not as passive “routes to market”, but as valuable co-creators. These initiatives are combined with emerging discussions surrounding the introduction of a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) within the Higher Education Sector, the continuing need to qualify and quantify the contribution that heritage collections can make “outside of heritage”, and technological advances, which enable the presentation of collections both in new ways and to new audiences.


The main conference themes will include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • Beyond apps: how technology can be used to enhance the impact of heritage collections and their place within society
  • Dynamic partnerships: academic impact and collaboration with heritage organisations
  • Future and hidden histories: exploring new narratives for our collections
  • Out of the strong room and into the street: new uses for collections within social, cultural and economic contexts
  • Show me the money: new frontiers for funding and fundraising
  • Who do we think we’re for? Working with new audiences and taking collections “outside of heritage”
  • Making collections work harder: social impact and cohesion through heritage
  • Joining the dots: connecting collections and communities




All submissions should be presented in the following format:


  • Name, job title and organisation of all speakers
  • Presentation/seminar title
  • A summary of no more than 100 words (this will be printed in the conference programme)
  • A more detailed abstract of no more than 300 words
  • Any scheduling conflicts for speakers


Submissions should be sent to the conference organisers (details below) on or before Monday, 9th May 2016. Submissions received after this date will not be considered.


Papers: The conference organisers invite abstracts for the delivery of 20-minute presentations. Where possible, papers should relate to the conference sub-themes listed above, but can also relate to other topics pertinent to the conference theme. 10 minutes will be allowed for questions after each presentation.


Panel: The conference organisers also invite the submission of abstracts for panel proposals. Panels should include three 20-minute papers and include a named panel chair. They can be submitted on any pertinent topic within the conference theme and can include papers relating to an individual project, emerging initiative, or “state of the nation” overview.


Seminars: The conference organisers invite the submission of abstracts for more focused seminars. These should offer an in-depth exploration of a pertinent topic, and the opportunity for discussion and debate amongst delegates. They may include an interactive element and details of this should be provided within the abstract.


Abstracts should be sent to both and by Monday, 9th May 2016.