MELA Annual Conference

The MELA Program Committee calls for submissions for its 48th annual meeting to be held online from 8-9 October.

All submissions should be sent to, with the subject line “Proposal for MELA 2020 conference.” Submissions will be due at midnight EST on 1 July 2020. Successful participants will be notified by 10 July 2020.

Given the current pandemic, the conference planning committee has committed to an all-online format for this year’s meeting.

In addition to papers on this year’s theme (described below), the committee also welcomes proposals addressing topics related to archives, libraries, or other research collections in or about the Middle East. Proposals may be in the form of individual papers, panels, workshops, or roundtable discussions on a unified theme.

The theme for this year’s conference will be:

“Pandemic, Crisis, and Cultural Institutions: The Intersection of Library Work with COVID-19 and Other Crises”

People around the world have faced unusual challenges touching nearly every aspect of their lives due to the COVID-19 outbreak and its rapid spread. The MELA Program Committee seeks presentations that engage with the impact of such challenges on libraries and other cultural institutions providing service to users of collections centered around the study of the Middle East. Crises such as the current pandemic profoundly change how information professionals must do their work, usually requiring adaptations in a matter of weeks, to last for nobody can say how long. At present, while stay-at-home orders have kept users away from physical collections maintained on campuses and in various repositories, librarians and archivists have responded rapidly and nimbly to maintain the visibility and accessibility of collections and library services to everyone who uses them. The crisis has also created an opportunity for all of us to reexamine how best to respond to user needs, as well as how to continue creatively engaging with them.

We hope that this conference can initiate a robust and meaningful discussion on how this pandemic, or any other crisis, has shaped our past, our present, and our future.

Submission guidelines:

  • Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words in Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx) or PDF format.
  • At the top of your proposal, please indicate:
    • Your name
    • Your current position and affiliation
    • Title(s) of your paper (panel, workshop, roundtable, etc.)
    • If there are multiple participants, be sure to indicate each person’s name & affiliation
    • For roundtables/panels, please indicate the title of each presentation
  • Please include a brief biography (maximum 100 words)

Please note:

  • All abstracts will be published in the program and posted on the MELA website.
  • Detailed instructions for virtual presentations will be sent to all presenters of accepted proposals.
  • Registration fees are waived for accepted presenters

Details on dues payment and meeting registration fees will be provided in a few weeks.
We look forward to receiving your proposals.

Best regards,
MELA 2020 Program Committee:

Robin Dougherty, Yale University (Chair)
Sean Swanick, Duke University
Amal Cavender, George Washington University


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