CAPAL15: Academic Librarianship and Critical Practice – CFP

Call for Proposals
CAPAL/ACBAP Annual Conference – May 31-June 2, 2015
Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2015
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario

The Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians (CAPAL) invites you to participate in its annual conference, to be held as part of Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, which lies in unceded Algonquin territory. The conference offers librarians and allied professionals across all disciplines an alternative space to share research and scholarship, challenge current thinking about professional issues, and forge new relationships.

In keeping with the Congress 2015 theme, Capital Ideas, the focus of CAPAL15 is critical practice: the intersection of our work as librarians with purposeful critical reflection on the dominant ways of thinking, speaking, and acting that characterize academic librarianship. With academic librarians negotiating increasingly fraught settings in the academy and beyond, it is more important than ever that we inform our work with rigorous examination of our assumptions, practices, and environments, both through reflection and dialogue within the profession, as well as through engagement with other disciplines and communities.

CAPAL15 encourages the broad participation of all those with an interest in fostering critical inquiry in academic librarianship. We seek to cultivate multiple understandings of critical practice:

Practice: Critical practice asks us to consider the role of critical reflection in shaping our approaches to day-to-day professional practice. What do such concrete applications look like? How, for instance, do you apply feminist perspectives to your collections work? What does your library instruction session look like when designed through a critical pedagogy lens? What, more broadly, is the value of such applications of critical reflection?

Theory: Critical practice also points to the practice of critical theory itself – the interrogation of the limits of particular assumptions in academic librarianship and/or the investigation of LIS problems using theoretical frameworks from other disciplines. How, for instance, might postcolonial theory allow us to think more critically about intellectual freedom? What can political economy perspectives tell us about research practice in LIS?

Professional and civic engagement: Critical practice refers to critical exploration of our goals and struggles as a profession, as well their connection to other political goals such as the empowerment of students, faculty, and other members of the community, or the struggle to define universities as public space and research as public good.

Our exchange of ideas at CAPAL15 will involve the pursuit of discussions spurred by any of these interpretations of critical practice or others, by their points of intersection, and even by the recognition of their limits. Papers presented might relate to any aspect of the following sub-themes (though they need not be limited to them):

– Critical approaches to core practices: information literacy, collections, description, archives, copyright, metrics, technology, etc.
Critical reflections on core values: intellectual freedom, (open) access, privacy, preservation, professionalism, etc.
– Critical reflections on professional issues: LIS education, deprofessionalization, governance, advocacy, etc.
– Intersections of librarianship with social and global justice, equity, decolonization
– Librarianship and higher education in relation to neoliberalism, austerity, and other socioeconomic phenomena
– Critical library research practice and/or methodologies
– Critical approaches to librarianship and culture
– Critical reflections on working in and across different disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, sciences, and beyond
– Critical theory and philosophy in librarianship

The Program Committee invites proposals for individual papers as well as proposals for panel submissions of three papers. Individual papers are typically 20 minutes in length. For individual papers, please submit an abstract of 400-500 words and a presentation title, along with a brief biographical statement, and your contact information. For complete panels, please submit a panel abstract of 400-500 words as well as a list of all participants including brief biographical statements, and a separate abstract of 400-500 words for each presenter. Please identify and provide participants’ contact information for the panel organizer. International proposals and proposals from non-members are welcome.

Please feel free to contact the Program Committee to discuss a topic for a paper, panel, or other session format. Proposals and questions should be directed to Dave Hudson, Program Chair, at

Deadline for proposals: December 8th, 2014

Further information about the conference, as well as Congress 2015 more broadly, will be available soon.