We are excited to reveal the content of this year’s interactive conference workshops which, as ever, will be led by a talented range of facilitators curated from around the world. Nearer the time attendees will choose to attend two of the six workshops detailed below.
Note: These workshops take place during the conference, are included in the conference fee, and are separate to the two pre-conference workshops led by Andy Priestner and Magalie Le Gall/Maud Puaud.
Dr Arun Verma – Integrating intersectionality: Re-imagining Journeys, Places and Spaces How can we utilise intersectionality to dismantle individual and community journeys through the higher education system and develop a programme of interventions that prevent racial inequality, with a focus on tackling anti-blackness? Marie Engberg Eiriksson – From Accessibility to Universal Design How Universal Design can be interpreted in a library context: exploring the barriers in libraries faced by persons living with sensory, mental or physical disabilities and how we can build universally equal library services. Natasha den Dekker – Pandemic Palaver: Agile User Experience Applying UX research and design techniques to explore a pandemic-style situation. You will learn how to operate in an ‘agile’ way as well as how to utilise different types of UX methodologies. David Clover – Mapping UX in Organisational Culture Mapping both current and desired culture in relation to how well UX is embedded in services, based on Johnson and Scholes elements of culture and the Cultural Web. How can change be implemented to embed UX within the culture of the organisation? Ange Fitzpatrick – Sorry. Not Sorry: Identifying, Quantifying, and Revolutionising Damaging Workplace Cultures Utilising UX, EQ and design thinking techniques to assess the culture of organisations, departments, and teams. How to recognise positive cultures in other industries, import them into your workplace and identify those areas that are ripe for change.
Luis Moßburger – Getting the Message Across: Data Visualisation for Beginners Exploring the basics of data visualisation: how to decide on the right data to visualise and the appropriate visualisation form, with best and worst practice examples. You will learn how to use visualisations to generate impact with presentations.
This year, in response to our theme of UX and organisational culture we want our speakers to explore the following:
How have you acquired the support that UX needs at your place of work?
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
How did UX prove itself within your organisation through specific projects/initiatives/services?
What techniques have you employed to get people on side?
How have you made UX part of everyday library operations?
How have you influenced and developed a user-centred culture?
If you have something to share that responds to these questions and issues – a project, an experience, a toolkit, an approach – then we want to hear from you through our call for papers. N.B. As ever, we will also consider papers on wider UX topics if the theme doesn’t work for you.
Anticipated/planned UX research Your paper may be about work you anticipate conducting between now and the conference. This is absolutely fine. It is also OK if your paper ends up diverging somewhat from your initial abstract – within reason obviously! A good UX research and design process often sees the practitioner end up at an entirely different destination.
What do I need to do? Give me all the info! Paper proposals are due by Friday 31 January 2020. Once this deadline has passed we will follow a blind peer review process and will let you know if your paper has been successful by Friday 14 February. You will have 20 minutes in which to present your paper at the conference and will be speaking to around a quarter of delegates (40-50 people).
If your paper is selected you will receive a 10% discount on this year’s delegate rate in recognition of your contribution. If the paper is going to be co-presented then the 10% discount will be split between you and the other presenter. If we produce a 4th annual yearbook, you will be invited to write up your paper for publication. N.B. Prior to the conference, use of the word ‘paper’ does not mean you need to provide an academic written paper, we are simply referring to your presentation.
Best paper prize Once again, we will be presenting a prize for the best conference paper (a free place at next year’s conference), won last year by Nathalie Clot.
Scoring Criteria/Submission advice This year we are trying to be more open about the blind review scoring criteria. Once the paper has been anonymised by the UXLibs Administrator the markers will score each paper (out of 30) accordingly:
How intriguing/exciting/engaging is it? (out of 10)
How unique/innovative is the topic and/or the approach? (out of 5)
Evidence that UX has taken place/strong UX content/specific UX methods cited (out of 5)
Does it fit this year’s theme: overcoming the challenge/influencing org. culture? (out of 3)
Valuable learning outcomes (out of 3)
Discretionary points to account for aspects not covered in the above categories (out of 4)
Also remember that:
UXLibs is an informal and friendly conference – this doesn’t mean that we are not interested in research rigour and due process, but if your paper is dry and overly academic it may not be the best fit forour conference.
Although the theme is important, don’t get hung up on it. You may persuade us to include a paper on something not connected with this year’s theme.
Our definition of UX embraces the user experience of physical and digital, in fact all aspects of library services
We see UX as about engaging with users more deeply and meaningfully than you can through surveys. In fact, some of us see the default survey as the antithesis to good UX. If your paper is simply about a survey it won’t get through.
You should follow ALL the requirements set out immediately below.
A presentation title.
An abstract of no more than 300 words.
A brief summary of no more than 50 words.
A brief biography (of each author) of no more than 50 words.
Your email address.
Learning outcomes for attendees.
Submit (preferably as a Word doc) by email to email@example.com by Friday 31 January 2020.
Papers may be co-presented but by no more than two people (additional named co-authors are fine, but only a maximum of two can actually present at the conference – please indicate who this will be if applicable).
Please feel free to contact conference chair Andy Priestner on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss any aspect of this year’s Call for Papers.
Finally, good luck!
Andy Priestner, Bryony Ramsden, Helen Murphy
The UXLibs Committee
We are aware that the cost of our conference might be out of reach for library staff working in public libraries and further education. This year we are once again offering 2 sponsored delegate places in recognition of this fact. As an organisation that also actively seeks to support diversity, we are also offering an additional sponsored place to a BME delegate (from any sort of library) who otherwise could not attend.
What do the places cover?
The sponsored places cover attendance at both the full conference and one of the pre-conference workshops, but excludes accommodation and travel.
How to apply
Please send an email to email@example.com titled ‘Sponsored place application’ or ‘Sponsored place application – BME’ by Thursday 31 March 2022.
In the body of the email detail in 300 words or less why you wish to attend the conference and also how you hope to put your learning into action afterwards.
When will I hear if I have a place?
We will email the successful applicant(s) by 15 April 2022.
If you have any questions about sponsored places please email Andy Priestner.
We are excited to incorporate two keynote speakers and two plenary speakers into this year’s UX in Libraries conference programme. All four will be talking to our chosen theme of inclusive UX, exploring different experiences of using libraries and the opportunities that exist to make our services better for everyone. The titles and abstracts of their talks are detailed below. There is still time to book a place at UXLibsIV however there are now only a limited number remaining.
Director of Agile Development and Inclusive Design at inUse, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Title: ‘Inclusive design – all about the extremes’
Abstract: There is no such thing as an average user, but still lots of time is spent trying to create great products by designing for those illusive average users. When trying to design for the normative users we risk creating a product that’s neither here nor there and that doesn’t create any real value for anyone. If we instead focus on the extreme users who differ from the norm it can help us design innovative solutions that work better for everyone. The environment dictates the norm, and whenever we are placed in a situation where we differ from the norm we become extreme users. Becoming extreme increases our awareness of the enviroment, making us better equipped to describe our needs and solve problems. Some people spend their lives being extreme in many aspects of their lives, making them experts. Their expertise can make a world of difference. Inclusive design can be as easy as you want it to be, and there are plenty of examples of successful mainstream products that were initially designed for extreme users or extreme situations. I will give you stories from the trenches and hands-on tips to take home and try out yourselves.
Director, Roskilde University Library, Faculty Library of Social Sciences, Administrate Library at the Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark. Title: ‘Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond’ Abstract: The Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, the fence between USA and Mexico and Offa’s Dyke. For all time humankind has been obsessed with walls, fences, dykes and ditches. They are a material manifestation of the desire to manage inclusion and exclusion in our institutions and communities, e.g. universities, are founded as exclusionary places and on a daily basis conscious and unconscious acts of exclusion take place. (Inclusive) UX in theory and practice should always be seen in the context in which we operate and in his talk Christian will outline why inclusive communities are crucial for healthy societies and what obstacles are hindering inclusion on different levels. Moreover, Christian will explore how inclusion and diversity can empower a sense of belongingness and finally why and how, libraries and librarians should be leaders in advancing this cause on campus and in communities.
DR JANINE BRADBURY
Senior Lecturer in Literature and Learning and Teaching Lead for Humanities, Religion, and Philosophy, York St John University, UK.
Title: ‘Safe spaces, neutral spaces? Navigating the Library as a Researcher of Colour’
Abstract: Drawing upon her experiences in libraries as a teenager in South London, a student in Yorkshire, a study abroad student in the Southern United States, and – more recently – as a lecturer, academic, and learning and teaching specialist, in her plenary talk, Janine will reflect on what it means to move into and out of the library space as a woman of colour who additionally researches the experiences of women of colour. Janine has spent the majority of her academic life in the UK, but studied abroad in the United States almost 15 years ago in 2004. While she was there, she encountered the library in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. This, she found to be a pivotal experience that shed light on the fact that libraries had, to her, rarely felt as though they were safe or racially neutral spaces. Taking inspiration from this year’s paper presenters, and drawing upon literary representations of library usage alongside her personal narrative of learning and reading, Janine looks to celebrate the radical possibilities of the library space for black readers and researchers – especially as this links to attainment and widening participation in Higher Education.
DR KIT HEYAM
School of English, University of Leeds, UK.
Title: ‘Creating trans-inclusive libraries: the UX perspective’
Abstract: As trans people become increasingly visible in the media, and many organisations develop new trans policies, awareness of the legal rights of trans library users is growing. But how are those users experiencing our libraries, and what can we do to make those experiences more positive? In this talk, Kit moves beyond the legal aspects of inclusivity to consider the factors that make a real difference to trans library user experience. What anxieties might trans customers bring to the library, and how can we allay them? How can we make our library buildings trans-inclusive? How can we make interpersonal interactions with library staff work better for trans people? How can we work towards making our service not just inclusive, but intersectionally inclusive? And just as importantly, how can we support library staff to make those positive user experiences happen?
In addition to the pre-conference workshop presented by Andy Priestner and Matt Borg, there will be 5 workshops presented during the conference proper on Day 1 by (from left to right above): Bryony Ramsden, John Jung, Eva Jirjahlke, Carl Barrow, Shelley Gullikson. Delegates will be able to attend 2 of these workshops (we will ask for your selections next month). The workshop titles, summaries and anticipated learning outcomes are as follows.
Workshop 1: Bryony Ramsden (UXLibsIV committee member from the University of Huddersfield, currently concluding a UX-related PhD)
Title: Daunted by data? An introduction to analysing qualitative data
Summary: Collecting data with your new-found UX techniques is all well and good, but what do you do with the data once you have it? Data analysis can be an intimidating process, particularly if it is a long time since you qualified, or if your education didn’t cover research methods or data analysis. This workshop will introduce some basic manual techniques to help you get started on analysing qualitative data, covering how to code data and organise findings thematically. You will also have the opportunity to put these techniques into practice by analysing and organising some sample data. Attendees will be provided with some UX data to work with.
Learning Outcomes: Attendees will learn the different ways of analysing qualitative data (manually or using computer software (CAQDAS)); how to manually code data; organising codes into themes; the pros and cons of collaborating to analyse data; the challenges of dealing with large sets of data.
Workshop 2: John Jung (Programmer and design thinking expert, University of Chicago)
Title: Speculative Design: Design as Conversation
Summary: So often, designers work to create products that are sleek or interfaces that are easy to use. The underlying values behind this kind of work are often highly commercial – the goal of design is to encourage consumerism. Speculative design offers an alternative. If you are familiar with television programs like Black Mirror, Westworld, or Humans, you are already familiar with some elements of speculative design- the thought-provoking narratives in these shows are designed to spark conversation around current technical and social topics. Designers doing speculative design projects are using design as a way to ask questions and facilitate conversations around challenging topics. At their best they are using design to incorporate diverse perspectives around possible, shared futures.
In this workshop we will look at some examples of speculative design and we will participate in an activity inspired by speculative design. All the while the workshop will be a chance to ask, “How might techniques like these help facilitate conversations about inclusivity? How might they be useful in libraries?” These projects incorporate objects, narratives, games, and more- so workshop participants who are interested in the creative aspects of art, writing, and design may find speculative design especially inspiring.
Additionally, because speculative design is so often incorporated into design workshops, participants who create UX workshops and activities for end users will find useful material here as well. These projects experiment with ways to create engaging workshop experiences. They offer a huge range of approaches to borrow from or build upon.
All are welcome, and no prior knowledge of speculative design is required. People with diverse backgrounds, and who bring diverse perspectives, are especially invited to participate. Let’s have a conversation about speculative design.
Learning Outcomes: Participants will: become familiar with speculative design as an area of practice; experience a workshop activity inspired by speculative design; reflect on possibilities for speculative design in libraries, as a group; receive a list of secondary resources to explore this topic further.
Workshop 3: Eva Jirjahlke (User Researcher, Citizens Advice, London)
Title: Challenge accepted: how to solve a UX problem
Summary: By now you have done some user research and have identified a few problems that disrupt your users’ experience. But how do you best solve them? How do you make sure you’re solving “the right thing”? And what do you do about those stakeholders who think they already know what the right solution needs to look like? Find out how to tackle a problem and rapidly prototype ideas to solve it in this interactive workshop.
During the workshop we’ll be thinking about:
User needs: What needs are you trying to meet with your product or service?
User goals: What are the users trying to achieve?
Constraints: What are the constraints (budget, user behaviour, stakeholders) we might need to consider while designing our product or service?
Context: Where and when are users using your product or service?
Learning Outcomes: By the end of the workshop you will know how to: approach and break down a problem; rapidly prototype your ideas and consolidate them into a solution; communicate your ideas. You’ll get the opportunity to explain the problem and your solution to the group which will help you think about how you might sell it to your stakeholders later on. …And of course have fun while doing it.
Workshop 4: Carl Barrow (Student Engagement Manager, University of Hull, UK)
Title: A collision of two worlds
Summary: We live in two worlds, the physical and the digital. Most of us possess hand held devices that move us between those worlds. We can travel the globe with our friends and colleges without even leaving our homes or offices, we can be part of their experiences and they part of ours. We hear what they hear and see what they see, we interact with and enhance their experiences. We transition between these worlds with ease, and are even present in both simultaneously as they layer up and collide. This is also true for our library users. Our knowledge and understanding of how they use and experience technology, alongside that of their behaviours and feelings is an integral element of service and space development.
The workshop will introduce two UX methods:
A digital day diary
A cognitive map
And along with group discussion, help participants reflect on their own practices and the positive and negative impact that technology and electronic devices have on their lives. We will consider how these tools can be used to gain a deeper insight into the behaviours of our library users and the impact that technology has. We will also consider how, by cross-referencing with other data sets and other UX methods we can build insightful user stories to inform the decisions we make, allowing us to deliver our services with the right entry points and our worlds collided.
Learning Outcomes: Attendees will: reflect on their own UX research activities; consider the impact of technology on user experience; learn how to conduct cognitive mapping and diary study research effectively; learn how to build user stories to inform decision making.
Title: The Path of Some Resistance: Adding Useful Friction to Library UX
Summary: Much of our work in library UX involves trying to create a smoother user experience. Our users are too often slowed down by the unnecessary friction of our overly complicated processes. They chafe against wordy and jargon-filled websites. They struggle to navigate spaces with overwhelming and unhelpful signage. Sometimes it seems like there is an unending amount of friction to remove in our libraries.
However, there are times when friction can actually be a good thing. A bit of friction added to a process can slow down users at the right moment. Think of the false alert of a missile attack in Hawaii earlier this year. A bit of extra friction in the interface design of the notification system might have prevented it. Your users won’t ever make an error this enormous in your library, but still, there are times when you might want to shift them out of autopilot and have them pause.
Many of our processes don’t require that pause, but it may be that what seems to be a smooth UX isn’t smooth at all for certain groups of users; a little design friction may help create a more inclusive user experience. You also might use friction to slow down your staff in order to improve things for your users. Finally, friction can also be beneficial not just in UX design, but in your user research.
This workshop will help you explore where adding a little friction could help improve the user experience in your library.
Learning Outcomes: Attendees will: understand how friction can be useful in both online and physical UX; explore useful friction in library UX by rethinking current services, workflows, and spaces; explore improvements to inclusion in libraries by adding friction; explore appropriate situations and techniques for adding friction to user research.
In addition to our keynote, plenary and workshop speakers we are very excited to announce a wealth of talented paper presenters hailing from 8 different countries: the UK, the US, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland and The Netherlands. They were selected via a blind review process in February 2018. As last year, we received many more submissions than we had speaker slots. Find out who they are and what they will be presenting on below…
MARIA SINDRE Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), NORWAY Paper: #MyFavouriteSpotOnCampus: Creating a flexible, inclusive, and modern learning space for our students Abstract: How we transformed the quietest zone in the library into a flexible learning space, going from being literarily empty the first weeks to the most crowded area in our building. In close cooperation with our students we have turned our makerspace into a creative space buzzing with life.
Lean Library BV, THE NETHERLANDS Paper: The library in the (work)flow Abstract: These days for many patrons the library isn’t the default gateway to scholarly materials anymore. I’ll present how at Utrecht University Library that change in patron behaviour led to the development of a browser extension that puts library services squarely in the patrons’ workflow.
Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Paper: Behind the clicks. What can eye tracking and user interviews tell us that click statistics can’t? Abstract: We have been using an eye-tracking kit to usability test our Library website usability and have found this user-centred method goes beyond our usual statistics, providing context for user activities. We have already discovered a number of key changes that we can implement to increase usability and improve the student journey.
California State University San Marcos, USA Paper: Empathetic design: Creating safe spaces Abstract: When we create spaces that feel emotionally safe to our users, they become more usable. This session will focus on how to create those spaces. The presenter will discuss empathetic design, modifying traditional UX research methods to inform empathetic design, and the practical application of these results to projects.
EVA-CHRISTINA EDINGER University of Zurich, SWITZERLAND Paper: “Should I stay or should I go?”: Conflicting environment-behaviour-settings in libraries
Abstract: The creation of library spaces is undertaken with considerable planning of the desired effect the built environment should have on its users. It is, thus, all the more irritating when the users fail to identify the preferred behaviour. Why do they have no idea if what they want to do is what they are allowed to do, or if they should move to another place to do it? The answer lies in conflicting environment-behaviour-settings.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA Paper: Serving Diverse Users with Persona-Based Homepages Abstract: At UNC Chapel Hill Libraries we’re conducting a series of studies to figure out who our user groups are, what they need from the Libraries, and whether we can deliver targeted homepages for each group in a way that makes sense to users. See our methods & results so far.
SUHUI HO University of California, San Diego, USA
Paper: Better together: Diversity and inclusion in UX design Abstract: Designing an inclusive library website is possible if we are willing to find a healthy common ground. I will share University of California, San Diego Library’s experience with accessibility design, minority media representation, and how we developed audience priority by highlighting inclusion of everyone while prioritizing for a specific audience group.
Information School, University of Sheffield, UK Paper: Coming to our senses: the library and the student learning body Abstract: Embodied cognition theory suggests that writing and reading involve the body, not just the brain. So how we manage the sensoryscape of the library affects user experience. The paper’s analysis of walk with interviews reveals the importance of the senses in library use: of the visual and sound, but also the kinaesthetic sense of space and open/closedness, even of smell.
Indiana University Southeast, USA Paper: Spatial realism: How cinematic history informs mixed methods research on library space & enhances holistic advocacy Abstract: During this presentation, I will discuss how an understanding of cinematic history helped create a framework with which to evaluate the efficacy of your library’s physical spaces. This framework emphasizes holistic understanding and can result in enhanced advocacy and inclusivity for all library patrons, with an emphasis on sustainability.
JADE LEONARD and MARIA O’HARA
Goldsmiths, University of London, UK Paper: Embedding UXLibs in Library Services Abstract: Journey with junior staff working to embed UX practice across a whole library. We’ll provide an insightful look into the highs and lows of training 42 people in a handful of sessions, organising a conference based on our findings and tackling the barriers faced by lone UX warriors on a mission.
JON EARLEY University of Michigan, USA Paper: Bringing it all together with library search Abstract: With so many separate and disconnected siloed resources, our users were having trouble finding what they needed. This will be the story of why one academic library consolidated and set forth to build their own library search. After years of work, was it worth it?
BEN WATSON and ANGELA GROTH-SEARY
University of Kent, UK Paper: A degree of difference? Information experiences of students with print disabilities Abstract: In a combined diary and photo study we are investigating the experiences of students with print disabilities when accessing information resources, compared to students without disabilities. We hope to shed light on typical barriers these students encounter, and how such experiences make them feel about their place within the institution.
PETER HALD and MELISSA NORDHOLT
Technical University of Denmark (DTU), DENMARK Paper: Comparative study of UX and sensor data from the perspective of behavioral mapping Abstract: We will present the results of a study conducted at DTU Library combining UX and sensor data. What are the differences between behavioral mapping and maps made from sensor data? What is the synergy potential in using quantitative and qualitative data? We will discuss these questions further in our presentation.
MICHELLE BLAKE and NED POTTER
University of York, UK Paper: Embedding ethnography and UX at York Abstract: UX methodology is not a fad: it’s becoming more firmly established in the sector, moving from novelty to maturity. We’ll discuss ensuring that Libraries’ internal processes, systems, and ethos support this. How can we make UX truly part of our daily ‘business as usual’, rather than a perpetual project?
DANIELLE COOPER Ithaka S+R, USA
Paper: Decolonizing User Experience Research in Academic Libraries with Indigenous Methodologies Abstract: 35 librarians at 12 academic libraries are currently conducting a collaborative qualitative study on supporting Indigenous Studies scholars utilizing Indigenous methodologies. This presentation shares the project’s methodology towards exploring how Indigenous approaches to inquiry can be developed in support of decolonizing academic library practice including user experience research.
University of East London, UK Paper: Exploring students’ ideas around belonging, comfort and discomfort in library and learning spaces Abstract: This presentation reports on a project exploring experiences of belonging and comfort and discomfort within library and other university spaces, emphasising the views of BAME students in light of research on closing the attainment gap. I will also explore some of the issues and challenges encountered, in particular reflecting on ideas about positionality, and identity and difference in the relationship between interviewer and interviewee.
HELI KAUTONEN Aalto University School of Science, Helsinki, FINLAND
Paper: Empowerment or exploitation? – Perceptions of engaging people in accessibility design Abstract: In this presentation, we explore different stakeholders’ perceptions about appropriate user involvement in a case where a library designs services for people with reading disabilities. Our study acknowledges the invested effort and the temporality of engagement. Our results indicate that balancing between positive and negative conceptions requires great sensitivity.
Lund University, SWEDEN Paper: Help us improve the library! Abstract: To promote UX methods and remove one specific threshold, the difficulty to recruit respondents, we have set up a test panel, and in just one week we recruited more than 150 members! The panel have already proved to be very useful in the various evaluations done since creation.
HARINDER MATHARU and ADAM SMITH University of Leicester, UK Paper: Unearthing histories: Black history Abstract: Our Black History volunteers have been unearthing hidden histories from our archives, histories which define us an institution. Join us as we share the experiences of library volunteers and explore further what impact an institution’s past can have on students’ sense of belonging today.
University of Birmingham, UK Paper: The silent voice: using UX to find balance and the unheard student voice when responding to feedback Abstract: Footfall vs feedback – how did our students really feel about their brand new library, and how did we engage the “silent” student body to understand the full picture? Our UX helped us unpack the truth about our library, and influence service partners to make positive change.
This year’s conference will begin at 08:30 on Wednesday 6 June, and close at 17:00 on Thursday 7 June. There will also be a pre-conference social evening from 19:30 on 5 June at The Bessemer public house which will be a great opportunity to meet other delegates in an informal setting.
Social evening (Tuesday 5 June): The Bessemer, The Fountain Precinct, 58 Leopold St, Sheffield, S1 2GZ. Tel: +44 (0) 114 270 6760.
Gala dinner venue (Wednesday 6 June): Cutlers’ Hall, Church St, Sheffield, S1 1HG. Tel: +44 (0) 114 276 8149.
Below you’ll find a map showing the locations of the conference and social venues, as well as most of the hotels that are within walking distance. Click on the icons to see further information, or check out the text further below.
We advise that you check for the best hotel deals on booking.com or hotels.com for special rates, but the rates below were correct at mid-January 2018. Hotels are listed from cheapest to most expensive.
Manchester airport is served by many domestic and international carriers and has a direct rail link to Sheffield both day and night with a journey time of 1hr 20mins.
If you are flying in to London (Heathrow or Gatwick) the journey time to Sheffield via London St Pancras is 3hrs 20 mins approx.
A smaller airport with fewer carriers is Doncaster Sheffield Airport, near Doncaster, 25 miles from Sheffield. You could take a taxi from the airport, or a train from Doncaster to Sheffield.
It may also be worth checking out Leeds/Bradford and East Midlands airports which are further away again but offer alternative journey options.
By train: Sheffield station is situated just 6 minutes’ walk from the main conference venue on Charles Street and around 10 minutes from most city centre hotels. Sheffield is very well connected to all major cities in the UK – see the National Rail for timetable and fare info.
By car: There ae no car parks at the conference venue but various parking options across the city. See Parking in the city for details.
Extending your trip? If you plan to stay before or after the conference then Sheffield is the perfect jumping off point for the Peak District National Park and all that Yorkshire has to offer. A bit further North is the breathtaking Lake District.