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Michigan Virtual Reference Conference

MI Virtual Reference Conference: Call for Proposals

MI Virtual Reference Conference: Call for Proposals

 Michigan Virtual Reference Conference
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Research Help Now VR Cooperative
April 25, 2014
Eastern Michigan University Library
Ypsilanti, Michigan

Call for Proposals is Closed, Peer Review Completed

The Michigan Virtual Reference Conference is a one-time, one-day conference exploring all aspects of virtual reference services in libraries. The conference is being held in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Michigan Research Help Now Collaborative, and is co-sponsored by Research Help Now and the Eastern Michigan University Library.

Share your ideas about or expertise in virtual reference by submitting session proposals to be considered for presentation. Proposals should be on a topic related to virtual reference, including chat, email, SMS, or other ways to provide research advice to remote students.

Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

  • techniques for successful VR interactions
  • assessment of VR effectiveness or user satisfaction
  • exploration of VR technologies
  • outreach and marketing of VR
  • comparison of different VR modes 
  • VR best practices and service quality
  • usability and user perspectives on VR
  • instruction and student learning in VR
  • using VR to connect with specific student populations
  • VR staffing and training
  • VR innovations and solutions to common problems
  • other topics related to providing research advice to students remotely


Proposal Details

Proposals are submitted online and will be judged in a blind review process by a committee composed of librarians from universities, four-year colleges, and community colleges. Conference slides, papers, and/or supplementary materials will be published on Eastern Michigan University’s Digital Commons online repository. Authors retain copyright and may also publish in other venues. Two types of proposals are solicited: presentations and lightning talks.

Presentations on virtual reference topics may be lecture format, interactive discussion, speaker panels (up to 4 speakers), or hands-on sessions in computer labs. The time frame for presentations is 50 minutes, including time for questions. 

Lightning Talks: 
Short presentations on innovative virtual reference topics that can be quickly shared within 10 minutes. These may be slide presentations or very brief interactive discussions. Conference organizers may group lightning talks together to form a session.

Proposal Evaluation


Proposals will be evaluated anonymously using the following criteria by a peer review committee of librarians representing several university and community college libraries.

Relevance to Virtual Reference and Usefulness of Content

  • Does the topic relate to providing research advice to remote users? 
  • Will conference attendees gain useful knowledge related to providing virtual reference services?

Appeal to Diverse Library Audience

The committee hopes to provide sessions of interest to small college and community college libraries, as well as large universities. Also, to offer sessions useful for experienced virtual reference librarians, as well as those new to virtual reference.

  • Is the topic of interest to both small and large libraries, or to different types of libraries?
  • Does the topic address needs of a specific type of library that is not represented by other conference proposals?
  • Is the topic useful for librarians new to virtual reference? Is the topic useful for experienced virtual librarians?

Uniqueness or Currency of Session Topic

  • Does the proposal present a unique perspective on virtual reference?
  • Does the topic highlight a new approach to virtual reference or the use of new technology?

Quality of Written Proposal

  • Is the proposal easy to understand? 
  • Are there indications in the written proposal that the presenters will be able to clearly explain topics and/or present material engagingly?

Format Appropriateness

For presentations:

  • Does the proposal merit 50 minutes of conference attendees’ attention?
  • Is there enough content for a 50 minute presentation?
  • Does the topic fit the proposed format (lecture, panel, hands-on, discussion)?
  • If it is a hands-on session, is it feasible in a 50 minute time frame?

For lightning talks:

  • Does the proposal merit 10 minutes of conference attendees’ attention?
  • Are there indications that the presentation can be accomplished within 10 minutes?
  • Is the topic presented concisely?


If you have questions about submitting a proposal, you may contact:

Kate Pittsley