IARLA, the International Alliance of Research Library Associations, invites colleagues from across the world to join us on 25 October 2022 for an international sprint relay symposium on Creating a community-driven toolkit for the development and delivery of Virtual Reading Room services.

This event is free to attend, and is open to all colleagues with a professional interest in, or experience of developing and delivering virtual reading room services. The event will be hosted on the Pheedloop and Zoom platforms.

Register for this event here

Virtual Reading Rooms (VRRs) provide human mediated, real time consultations primarily for unique and distinctive collections which are not loanable or digitised. Via visualisers and online video conferencing platforms, VRRs provide a surrogate research experience, initial scoping of collections prior to digitisation or an in person visit, or a means of co-locating joint research for distributed collaborators.

This international symposium will span the globe through a series of three connected, sequential, and iterative seminars. There will be talks, discussions, and interactive breakout sessions that will all directly inform and shape the contents of a practical toolkit for the development and delivery of Virtual Reading Room services amongst collection-holding institutions.

How to participate

Attendees will only need to join one sprint session: in Australia and New Zealand, Europe or North America. Timings for each sprint are provided below. You will be asked to confirm which sprint you will attend in the registration form.

This event is open to all and is NOT restricted to colleagues located in the named regions. Attendees based outside of the named regions are encouraged to sign up and should join the sprint that matches up to their particular time zone.

Our sprint relay will commence in Australia and New Zealand

  • 10:00 – 14:00 AWST
  • 13:00 – 17:00 AEDT
  • 15:00 – 19:00 NZDT

Before the baton is passed to Europe:

  • 09:00 -13:00 BST, WEST
  • 10:00 – 14:00 CEST
  • 11:00 – 15:00 EEST

And we will finish the relay in North America:

  • 11:00 -15:00 EDT
  • 08:00 – 12:00 PDT

This international relay symposium will:

  • Showcase the international experience around the development and delivery of VRRs
  • Produce a toolkit which genuinely reflects the experiences of the community and our wider stakeholders

This event has been organised by members of IARLA’s VRR Working Group that has been meeting since November 2021 to explore the development and delivery of virtual reading rooms. The working group includes representatives of research and academic libraries from Australia and New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

We look forward to hearing from the following speakers at this event:

Australia and New Zealand

  • Donna McRostie, Deputy Director, Research & Collection Stewardship, University of Melbourne
  • Other speakers TBC


  • Fran Baseby, Research Services Manager, University of Edinburgh
  • John Hodgson, Associate Director (Curatorial Practices), John Rylands Research Institute and Library, University of Manchester
  • Bob MacLean, Assistant Librarian (Engagement), Archives & Special Collections, University of Glasgow Library
  • Elizabeth Savage, Senior Lecturer in Book History and Communications, Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London
  • Teresa Murjas, Professor in Theatre Performance in the Department of Film, Theatre and Television, University of Reading

North America

  • Sara Logue, Asst. University Librarian for Special Collections Public Services, Princeton University Library
  • Alisa (Allee) Monheim, Public Services Librarian for Special Collections, University of Washington 
  • Anne Blecksmith, Associate Director and Head, Reader Services, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
  • Jay Williams, Author of The Oxford Handbook of Jack London and Author Under Sail: The Imagination of Jack London, 1902–1907 and former Managing Editor, Critical Inquiry

Register for this event here