Everything you need to know about the Charleston Conference

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The Charleston Conference is an annual gathering of librarians, publishers, electronic resource managers, consultants, and vendors of library materials in Charleston, South Carolina. It is designed to be a collegial gathering of experts from different areas who discuss issues in a friendly yet informative environment.

Senior executives of companies will get the chance to discuss and debate with library directors, acquisitions librarians, reference librarians, serials librarians, collection development librarians and many others. The Charleston Conference has grown from 20 participants in 1980 to almost 2,000 participants last year. It was held in two hotels for the first time in 2005: the Francis Marion and the Embassy Suites, both in downtown Charleston. It has since expanded to three hotels: the Francis Marion, the Embassy Suites Historic District, and the Courtyard Marriott Historic District) plus the new Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston.

This year, it will be a parallel event – one that optimises the in-person event during the first week of November for those who can travel to Charleston, then two weeks later, from 14–18 November, it will be a virtual event. The conference will be a hybrid format, meaning the event will take advantage of both options.

Key conference information

Pre-conferences/Seminars: 1 November 

The event’s pre-conferences and seminars are on 1 November, which are longer sessions that will present an opportunity to discuss topics including copyright in scholarly communication, data ethics for library professionals, and model licensing language and digital preservation. These require separate registration, so make sure you check the website here.

Vendor showcase: 1 November 

The only exhibition day in the conference is the vendor showcase, which will happen from 10am to 5:30pm on 1 November in the Gaillard Center Grand Ballroom. There will also be select in-depth vendor information sessions and focus groups available to attend.

Charleston Premiers: 3 November

These are sessions designed to offer publishers and vendors the chance to showcase their newest and most innovative products, platforms, and/or content. The focus will be on new companies, content, or technologies that are not widely known by the general library population and that will be of interest to the Charleston Conference audience. 

In-person conference: 2–4 November 

The jam-packed programme includes the following plenary speakers:

  • Opening keynote by Dr Buhle Mbambo-Thata, University Librarian, National University of Lesotho

  • Data-driven DEI panel: Gwen Evans (Elsevier), Beth Blanton (University of Virginia Libraries), Robyn Price (Imperial College London), and Lori Carlin (Delta Think)

  • Charleston Premiers, moderated by Darrell Gunter, CEO, Gunter Media Group

  • Long arm of the law panel, moderated by Ann Okerson, Senior Advisor, CRL; Gary Price, InfoDocket

  • Closing summary by Derek Law, Professor Emeritus, University of Strathclyde

Virtual conference: 14–18 November

A variety of sessions, keynote talks and focusing on cross-institutional collaboration, open access, confronting costs associated with textbooks, artificial intelligence and more. These sessions will be highly interactive as they include networking opportunities and poster presentations (with a time for questions from attendees). Vendor information sessions will also be available to anyone attending virtually.

Important topics at this year’s conference include:

  • Can publishers keep prices down while costs escalate?

  • Forecasting changes on the horizon for scholarly communications

  • How is the market being impacted by the internet and electronic publishing?

  • What are the rights and responsibilities of each of the stakeholders involved?

  • The role of artificial intelligence in the scholarly communications industry

  • The impact of COVID-19: where we've been and where we're headed

  • Evolution of the role of the librarian

  • Vendor relations and vendor development practices

  • Open access: management, models, quality and impact

  • What is the future of video streaming services?

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion, and bibliodiversity in academic publishing


Engage in all of this content and more at the Charleston Conference!