Call for Manuscripts for Special issue of Multicultural Review

Call for Manuscripts for Special issue of Multicultural Review

Libraries as a public good in 21st century multicultural societies: Policy and the politics of literacy, libraries and librarianship

Guest Editors: Curtis Brewer, Anne McMahan Grant (Clemson University)

When it comes to recent national budget discussions, funding for library services has come up short. For example, a 9% cut has been proposed for the FY2012 budget to the Institute for Museum and Library Services, an organization that provides assistance to the nations libraries. (President, 2011) And, on a local level, according to a recent Library Journal poll, 72% of responding libraries said that their budgets had been cut during FY2010 with one library staff person making the pointed observation that “Public libraries are not sacred cows any more, and librarians need to accept this and make their libraries viable to protect them against future challenges” (Kelley, 2011 p. 28). With these newly limited budgets, libraries are moving toward changing their image from the library as a storehouse for books to the library as a learning commons or an information gateway designed to help patrons not only find information, but to help them determine good information from bad (Casserly, 2002). A strong argument could be made that the development and support for libraries as a public good are central to an everchanging multi-cultural information society with the provision of library services playing a central role. The simple fact is that libraries are no longer merely storehouses of information. Outreach services have expanded as more libraries have internet accessible chat services that provide a personal librarian for anyone who can access a web page. This is especially true in academic libraries as one study found that 84% of libraries surveyed offered instant messaging services via their web page (Tripathi, 2010). Hospitals have librarians who assist medical staff in finding crucial research for their patients (Abels, 2002). Schools and universities have librarians to train students to filter the vast amounts of information that they will encounter in their daily lives as well as to provide them access to research materials (The State of America’s Libraries, 2011). And communities have libraries that give them access to the internet, provide safe places for patrons to learn, and gives them free access to materials that could lead to public discussions that may reshape our understanding of ourselves and others (How Libraries Stack Up, 2010). Given the possibly robust dividends a public investment in libraries, librarians and literacy programs could provide, it is important to interrogate how the political and policy context are currently shaping these possibilities.

The study of politics, policy and multiculturalism makes us acutely aware of how the framing of problem definitions, research and policies shapes public understanding of an issue (Fraser 1989; Hajer and Waagner 2003). Therefore, in this special issue we seek to pay close attention to how dominant values, institutionalized power, privilege, and the policy process itself interact to frame and reframe literacy, libraries and librarians as political issues in multicultural societies in the early twenty-first century. We seek articles that will help make sense of this changing policy environment for all practitioners concerned with libraries or literacy.

In this special issue of the Multicultural Review we ask for manuscripts that might address the following questions:

1. What is the state of the politics of libraries in these times of retrenchment? What knowledge might help practitioners navigate the changing policy contexts?

2. How do the dominant values within our society create avenues for change or act as barriers in the development of policies that address libraries, librarians and literacy?

3. What are the experiences of patrons and those working in libraries across multiple contexts in this time of retrenchment?

4. How are librarians and supporters of public libraries currently influencing the creation of policy?

5. How do the dominant political discourses constitute the library as a public institution and how is this related to inequality?

6. What role do libraries and literacy programs play in the creation of space for a more democratic, deliberative and inclusive forms of political participation?

We assume each manuscript should clearly articulate a conceptual framework grounded in, and informed by theory and relevant research. We want to emphasize the importance of maintaining a focus on the politics of your substantive topic/area in your work, including political theories that interact with multicultural theory when relevant. We would also like to emphasize the breadth of the readership of MCR and encourage authors explicitly show the relevancy of their argument to the work in the field.

Possible themes may include:

The role of interest group development in the change of literacy policy;

A critical analysis of the racialization of libraries and librarianship advocacy and their relationships to the growing digital divide;

The ways in which political theories around social movements and fearless speech can shape the potential for the reframing of political discourses;

The use of radical democratic theory to inform the advocacy discussions surrounding literacy and libraries;

The use of feminist theory to analyze the development of politics of library and/or literacy policy;

An institutional analysis of the interactions between accountability policy, library policy and literacy policy in a multicultural society;

An economic/structural analysis of the distribution of funding for libraries and literacy programs;

An historical account of the development and evolution of the federal involvement in the public library in order to shed light on our current policy debates for all those who are currently working as practitioners.

For this special issue of the Multicultrual Review we invite papers that interrogate and challenge the assumptions within the themes described above. Submissions may be either qualitative, quantitative or interpretive/conceptual manuscripts that address the questions and areas outlined above will be considered. Manuscripts should meet the 6th edition of APA Publication Manual and a maximum of 8000 words in length. The deadline for submission is September 15, 2011.

Please direct submissions, questions or abstracts to the guest editors
Curtis Brewer ( and Anne McMahan Grant (


Abels, Eileen G., Keith W. Cogdill, and Lisl Zach. The contributions of library and information services to hospitals and academic health sciences centers: a preliminary taxonomy, J Med Libr Assoc. 2002 July; 90(3): 276284.

Casserly, Mary. Developing a Concept of Collection for the Digital Age. portal: Libraries and the Academy, Volume 2, Number 4, October 2002, pp. 577-587.

Fraser, N. (1989). Unruly practices: Power, discourse and gender in contemporary social theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Hajer, M. A., & Wagenaar, H. (Eds.). (2003). Deliberative policy analysis: Understanding governance in the network society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

How Libraries Stack Up: 2010, OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) Report.

Kelley, M. Bottoming out: Severe cuts today put big question marks on the future. Library Journal (1976) v. 136 no. 1 (January 2011) p. 28-31.

President Obama’s Budget Strips FY2012 Funding. American Libraries v. 42 no. 3/4 (March/April 2011) p. 8.

The State of America’s Libraries 2011 – A report by the American Library Association, April, 2011.

Tripathi, Manorama and Sunil Kumar. Use of Web 2.0 tools in academic libraries: A reconnaissance of the international landscape. The International Information & Library Review Volume 42, Issue 3, September 2010, p. 195-207.

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