SLA Contributed Papers

The inspiration for a paper can come from almost anywhere. A hackfest. A Twitter chat. A conversation with a researcher or library user.

Each year, as many as 12 SLA members are invited to write papers and present them at the SLA Annual Conference. The papers provide conference attendees with opportunities to hear directly from peers about experiences they’ve had, research they’ve conducted, and best practices they’ve developed.

Paper topics should address library science, information management, or other issues related to the administration of special libraries and/or the provision of their services. Proposals will be judged on several criteria, including the applicability of the topic to SLA members, the clarity of scope, the potential for take-away ideas and concepts, and the quality of the writing.

Proposed papers must meet these requirements:

  • At least one author is a member of SLA.
  • At least one author commits to presenting the paper at the annual conference.
  • The proposal is received by the deadline.
  • The paper has not been published in, or submitted to, any other publication or conference planning group.
  • The author (and any co-authors) must be willing to sign a copyright assignment form that will permit SLA to use the paper in various formats.

Abstract submission: Paper authors must submit an abstract describing the topic of their paper. Abstracts should be 250-300 words in length, which is roughly one page in 12-point text. The abstract deadline for papers to be presented at the SLA 2021 Annual Conference is Monday, February 22. Send abstracts to Stuart Hales at SLA headquarters (
Paper selection: As many as 12 abstracts will be chosen for development into papers. SLA members who submit abstracts will be notified of a decision no later than March 15.
Paper submission: Authors will submit their completed paper and copyright assignment form to Stuart Hales at SLA headquarters. The submission deadline is Friday, July 9.
Paper presentation: Authors will deliver a 15-minute presentation of their papers during a session at the SLA 2021 Annual Conference, which will be conducted virtually. Presenters should leave approximately 5-10 minutes for questions.

Authors whose proposals are selected for development into contributed papers should follow the guidelines below when writing their papers. Authors may also wish to view papers presented at previous SLA Annual Conferences to see how certain formatting challenges were addressed.

Specific questions should be referred to Stuart Hales at

Length: Papers may be as long as necessary; however, paper presentations at the conference will be limited to 15 minutes.
Style: The Chicago Manual of Style (University of Chicago Press) should be consulted on all questions about editorial style. In particular, authors should review the chapter about using the author-date style for citations and reference lists, which explains the preferred approach to text and source citations.
Editing/Proofreading: Papers must be in final form when submitted; no editing will be permitted after papers are received. Authors are responsible for arranging for copy editing, proofreading and formatting.

Papers should be set in Times New Roman type, as follows:
Title: The title of the paper should be centered at the top of the first page (no blank lines between margin and title) in bold 18-point Times New Roman, with the first letter of each significant word capitalized.
Byline: Authors’ names, titles, degrees, and affiliations should appear below the title of the paper in regular 14-point Times New Roman, centered, with the first letter of each significant word capitalized.
Headings: Chapter or major division headings should be in bold 16-point Times New Roman type, centered, with the first letter of each significant word capitalized. A-level subheadings should be in bold 14-point Times New Roman, centered, with all capital letters. B-level subheadings should be in bold 14-point Times New Roman, centered, with the first letter of each significant word capitalized. C-level subheadings should be in bold 12-point Times New Roman, flush with the left margin. The first letter of each significant word should be capitalized. D-level subheadings should be flush to the left margin in italic (not bold) 12-point Times New Roman, followed by a period. The subheading should in line with the first line of the paragraph. Only the first letter of each significant word should be capitalized.
Endnotes: The heading of the endnotes section should be titled “Endnotes” and set in bold 16-point Times New Roman type, centered.

Pagination: Do not number the pages. In particular, do not use the “page break before” or “page break after” commands or the header or footer fields.
Margins: All four margins should be set to one inch.
Justification: Do not justify text. All text, except where specified otherwise (e.g., titles and bylines), should be flush left, ragged right.
Spacing: Single-space the text of your paper. Between paragraphs, include a single blank line. Use two blank lines between the end of a section and a following A-, B-, or C-level subheading; use one blank line between an A-, B-, or C-level subheading and the following text. Use only one space between sentences.
Indentation: Indent all paragraphs one-half inch (1.3 cm) using tabs, not spaces.
Authors: Each author’s name, title, degree, and affiliation should be centered below the title of the paper, with the first letter of each significant word capitalized. Insert two blank lines between the last line of the title and the first line of the lead author’s name. The author’s name and degree(s) should be on one line; the author’s title, employer and affiliation should appear below. Insert one blank line between the first author’s credentials and the second author’s name. Insert four blank lines between the last line of the last author’s name and the first line of text (or the first chapter heading).
Subheadings: Subheads should be no more than one-half line long. Do not number subheads.
Widows and Orphans: Try to avoid letting the last line of a paragraph fall by itself at the beginning of the following page (widow) or the first line of a paragraph fall by itself at the end of the preceding page (orphan). Hint: Use the settings in your word processing application to eliminate widows and orphans.
Hyphenation: Do not hyphenate words at the ends of lines. Hint:Use the settings in your word processing application to turn off automatic hyphenation.

Authors are encouraged to use charts, tables, maps, and other useful non-text elements to help amplify or clarify text in their papers. Number the illustrations, graphs, charts, and other graphics consecutively as Figure 1, Figure 2, and so on and refer to them as such in the text of the paper. If you create graphs or other illustrations in another application (such as PowerPoint), do not embed them as objects linked to the original file.
Note: If an image is under copyright, it is the author’s responsibility to obtain the proper permissions and provide proof of the permissions to SLA. Copyright and attribution information must be included in the captions for all images used by permission.

Authors are encouraged to use hyperlinks/bookmarks for cross references within the paper or to related online information. Do not link to other documents that reside on your computer, since those documents will not be available to online readers.

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