Conference History

The Online Northwest Conference (originally called Oregon Online) began in 1984, created by librarians at the nine schools of the Oregon State System of Higher Education (OSSHE) and the Inter-institutional Library Council (ILC). At the time, the members of the conference organizing committee were known as the OSSHE ILC Online Coordinators Committee. The Online Coordinators were involved in searching online databases, which were then only accessible by librarians with specialized technical knowledge in the arcane language of database searching. The conference was established as an opportunity for librarians across the OSSHE to share their knowledge and experience with the frequent technological changes in libraries. Conference presentations at Online Northwest have also been, and continue to be, an excellent professional development opportunity for librarians. 

Around 1990 the name of the conference changed to Online Northwest, helping to attract librarians and other information professionals from Washington, Idaho, Montana, and northern California. The conference is regularly attended by librarians from higher education, as well as an increasing amount of librarians from public and special libraries. Over the years, the conference evolved into one of the most-beloved library conferences in the region. Presentations address technical, social, and policy issues associated with information technology and librarianship. 

In June 2015 the Oregon University System officially disbanded.  As a result, the Online Northwest conference committee took a hiatus in 2016, using the time to explore options to continue the conference without OUS backing.  Portland State University Library agreed to provide Online Northwest with logistical support and a home, beginning with the 2017 conference.

Who Organizes Online Northwest?

Each former Oregon University System institution library—Eastern Oregon University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, University of Oregon, Western Oregon University, and Oregon Health Sciences University—chooses a representative to serve on a committee that plans all aspects of Online Northwest.  Portland State University Library staff facilitate conference logistics and the Portland State University Library provides a home for Online Northwest as of the 2017 conference.

how is online northwest changing?

Q:  Why did Online Northwest skip a year?
A:  There was no conference in 2016 for a couple of reasons.  Online Northwest was a conference of the Oregon University System.  When that organization officially dissolved in June 2015, the conference no longer had an organizational “home.”  After the 2015 conference, the conference program planning committee conducted a broad survey of recent Online Northwest participants and used that feedback to guide an investigation of ways to continue the conference.  The gap year provided time to evaluate pros and cons, as well as firm up logistics.
Q:  Why is Online Northwest 2017 in Portland instead of Corvallis?
A:  Because the Oregon University System no longer exists, Online Northwest needed a new institutional “home.”  Portland State University is the conference’s new organizational sponsor and site.
Q:  What other changes are you making?
A:  Not too many!  Online Northwest will still be a springtime one-day regional conference focusing on instructional technology and libraries.  We’re still exploring ways to adjust the theme of the conference to provide the most interesting and engaging program.  If you have questions or ideas about how to improve the conference, please feel free to email either of the 2017 co-chairs, Blake Galbreath or Karen Munro.
Q:  What is the timeline for the 2017 conference?
A:  We expect to issue our call for program proposals in early September 2016, with a deadline in early November.  The program will be made public and registration will be available in late 2016 and early 2017.  The next Online Northwest conference will be held March 31, 2017 at Portland State University.