The 2019 Annual Conference

friday 7th - sunday 9th june 2019

we are delighted to announce that the host library for 2019 is the devon and exeter institution. help us celebrate the ila’s 30th birthday in glorious library surroundings!

Follow all conference and independent library news @IndieLibraries and on our Facebook page, and see below for the call for papers.

Keynote speaker

2019 is the Independent Library Association’s thirtieth birthday! In this celebratory year the annual conference theme is that of adaptation: ‘the action or process of altering, amending, or modifying something (esp. something that has been created for a particular purpose) so that it is suitable for a new use’. Any library is an adaptable space: we’ve embraced technology, changing reader demographics, the loss of original buildings, the addition of new buildings, ever-shifting collections, and much more. What is so intriguing about libraries is that continuity is as important as adaptation. All libraries treasure their original buildings and oldest books; their longevity is their USP. How do libraries change while also remaining the same? How do libraries emphasise the new while retaining the old? 

The ILA annual conference brings together those working in and around the independent library sector, fostering networking between all those who work in or around libraries, archives, and special collections. Papers from library founders, readers, members, subscribers, librarians, archivists, interns, volunteers, trustees, benefactors, partner institutions and the general public will all be considered.  

Papers must be 20 minutes long and can be on any of the following areas (other suggestions are also welcome): 

  • Projects that successfully changed any aspect of a library and its community; 

  • Recruiting adaptation: impact of staff, trustees, and board members; 

  • New ways of retaining a library’s ethos; 

  • Blending the old and the new; 

  • The impact of digital technology; 

  • Buildings and spaces: new builds and renovations; 

  • Library communities then and now; 

  • Exhibiting collection treasures in new ways; 

  • Opening up library spaces with clever security. 

We emphasise that papers do not need to be scholarly. The Association is committed to hearing a diversity of perspectives. Please send queries and submissions of 250 words to Anne Howard and Louisa Yates at by 5pm on Friday 22nd February 2019.  

call for papers


ila annual conference archive

See below for a record of all Independent Library Association Conferences since 2017. You can download programmes and conference reports, as well as see each year's keynote speaker and host library.

The 2018 Annual Conference

Friday 1st - Sunday 3rd June 2018

library of innerpeffray & the leighton library

Past, Present, Future: the People in Independent Libraries

Inside the Library of Innerpeffray, by Crieff

Inside the Library of Innerpeffray, by Crieff

'Bibliographers, Biographers, and Independent Libraries', Dr Kelsey Jackson Williams, Lecturer in Early Modern Literature, University of Stirling

An exclusive performance of 'The Lamp', a play inspired by and written for the Library of Innerpeffray by writer and playwright Linda Cracknell


For a conference report of the whole weekend, see Mhairi Rutherford's report here, and Jessica Hudson's report here.

Download a PDF copy of the 2018 conference programme.


The Independent Libraries Association’s annual conference 2018 continued the aim of bringing together those working in and around the independent library sector. 2017’s conference followed the theme of ‘collections’, the core of any library; but what are texts without their readers? In 2018 the conference focused on people. The membership of independent libraries is growing healthily, but individual institutions often battle against perceptions of exclusivity and anonymity.

People who use independent collections, as well as the people who make the collections accessible are all welcomed under this year’s theme. Papers on library founders, readers, members, subscribers, librarians, archivists, interns, volunteers, trustees, benefactors, partner institutions and/or the general public are all part of this year's programme.

We were delighted to be holding the 2018 conference in Scotland, with joint hosts the Library of Innerpeffray, by Crieff, and the Leighton Library, Dunblane. The Associations’ intention is to foster networking between all those who work in or around libraries, archives, and special collections. 

Follow the conference news @indielibraries

the 29th annual conference





The 2017 Annual Conference

Chawton House Library, Chawton, Hampshire

Chawton House Library, Chawton, Hampshire


keynote speaker


the 28th annual conference

We were delighted to announce the 28th Annual Conference, held at one of our newest member libraries, Chawton House Library in Alton, Hampshire. This was the second to be held in the new conference format, after the successful launch in 2016 at Bromley House Library, Nottingham. We more than doubled the number of speakers and welcomed delegates from across the UK and the world.

The programme allowed delegates to hear from some of the world's most unique library and archive collections, while also allowing delegates the chance to explore one of the UK's finest independent libraries, Chawton House Library. The audience was diverse - librarians, archivists, researchers, academics, as well as the general public who wanted to learn more about one of the UK's key cultural industries. The ILA conference is a weekend of learning, networking, discussion and #librarychat, held during the weekend, so all member libraries and independent members will have a chance to have their say. 

Download a PDF copy of the 2017 conference programme

Follow the conference news @IndieLibraries