March 7, 2018

CFP: Special Collections as Sites of Contestation

CFP: Special Collections as Sites of Contestation

Call for Proposals

Editor: Mary Kandiuk

Publisher: Library Juice Press

Special collections are actively acquired by libraries or received by donation. Increasingly, special collections are emerging as sites of contestation. Funding and political choices often underpin acquisition, access and promotion of these collections resulting in unequal representation, biased interpretations and suppressed narratives. This collection of essays will interrogate library practices relating to special collections. The essays will explore the reinterpretation and resituating of special collections held by libraries, examine the development and stewardship of special collections within a social justice framework, and describe the use of critical practice by libraries and librarians to shape and negotiate the acquisition, cataloguing, promotion and display of special collections.
Proposals are invited for chapters relating to special collections held by all types of libraries in all countries. Special collections are library and archival materials encompassing a wide range of formats and subject matters. They are usually distinguished by their historical, societal, cultural or monetary value, uniqueness or rarity, and are housed separately from a library’s main circulating collection with a commitment to preservation and access. Specific topics of interest include but are not limited to:

– Evolving understandings and interpretations of historical materials in special collections.
– Censorship, self-censorship, academic freedom, intellectual freedom and special collections.
– The use of critical practice to resist cultural hegemony in the development of special collections.
– The challenges of developing contemporary special collections relating to social justice.
– Examining special collections through the lens of the marginalized and disempowered.
– The representation of unpopular or radical views in special collections.
– Contested interpretations of special collections.
– Safe spaces and special collections.
– Controversial exhibits relating to special collections.
– Information literacy and special collections employing a social justice framework.
– Decolonizing and indigenizing special collections.
– Donors, funding, power and politics and their influence on the development of special collections.
– Development and stewardship of special collections relating but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, politics, religion, war, conflict, genocide, sex, pornography, racism, discrimination, heritage, memory, and identity within a social justice framework.
– Any aspect of acquisition, curation, structure, cataloguing, digitization, presentation, arrangement, promotion, display and instruction relating to special collections using a social justice or critical practice framework.


Chapter proposals should contain 1) an abstract of 500-750 words describing the proposed contribution and 2) a brief biographical statement about the author(s). Proposals are due June 1, 2018. Please direct all submissions and inquiries to Mary Kandiuk (


June 1, 2018: Deadline for 500-750 abstract proposing a chapter.
July 1, 2018: Notification of acceptance of proposed chapter.
December 1, 2018: Deadline for submitting full chapter manuscript.

About the Editor

Mary Kandiuk is the Visual Arts, Design & Theatre Librarian and a Senior Librarian at York University in Toronto, Canada. She holds a Master of Arts in English and a Master of Library Science from the University of Toronto. She is the author of two bibliographies of secondary criticism relating to Canadian literature published by Scarecrow Press and co-author of Digital Image Collections and Services (ARL Spec Kit, 2013). She is co-editor of the collection In Solidarity: Academic Librarian Labour Activism and Union Participation in Canada published by Library Juice Press in 2014. Her most recent publications include articles on the topic of academic freedom. For more information see:

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March 1, 2018

New Book: The Politics of Theory and the Practice of Critical Librarianship

The Politics of Theory and the Practice of Critical Librarianship

Editors: Karen P. Nicholson and Maura Seale
Price: $35.00
Published: March 2018
ISBN: 978-1-63400-030-7

Over the past fifteen years, librarians have increasingly looked to theory as a means to destabilize normative discourses and practices within LIS, to engage in inclusive and non-authoritarian pedagogies, and to organize for social justice. “Critlib,” short for “critical librarianship,” is variously used to refer to a growing body of scholarship, an intellectual or activist movement within librarianship, an online community that occasionally organizes in-person meetings, and an informal Twitter discussion space active since 2014, identified by the #critlib hashtag. Critlib “aims to engage in discussion about critical perspectives on library practice” but it also seeks to bring “social justice principles into our work in libraries” (

The role of theory within librarianship in general, and critical librarianship more specifically, has emerged as a site of tension within the profession. In spite of an avowedly activist and social justice-oriented agenda, critlib–as an online discussion space at least–has come under fire from some for being inaccessible, exclusionary, elitist, and disconnected from the practice of librarianship, empirical scholarship, and on-the-ground organizing for socioeconomic and political change. At the same time, critical librarianship may be becoming institutionalized, as seen in the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, the January 2015 editorial in College and Research Libraries that specifically solicited articles using critical theory or humanistic approaches, and the publication of several critical librarianship monographs by the Association of College and Research Libraries.

This book features original research, reflective essays and conversations, and dialogues that consider the relationships between theory, practice, and critical librarianship through the lenses of the histories of librarianship and critical librarianship, intellectual and activist communities, professional practices, information literacy, library technologies, library education, specific theoretical approaches, and underexplored epistemologies and ways of knowing.

Karen Nicholson is Manager, Information Literacy, at the University of Guelph, and a PhD candidate (LIS) at Western University, both in Ontario. Her research interests include information literacy and critical university studies.

Maura Seale is History Librarian at the University of Michigan and was previously Collections, Research, and Instruction Librarian at Georgetown University. She received an MA in American Studies from the University of Minnesota and an MSI from the University of Michigan. She welcomes comments and can be found on Twitter at @mauraseale.

This book is available from Amazon.