CFP: Language, Modes of Communication, and the Contemporary Academic Library

CALL FOR PROPOSALS for an edited book with the working title:
Language, Modes of Communication, and the Contemporary Academic Library

Melanie Boyd, University of Calgary
Natasha Gerolami, Huntington University
Courtney Waugh, University of Western Ontario

We are inviting proposals for an edited collection of papers to investigate and challenge how language is used in the academic library milieu. We seek papers that offer – through an interdisciplinary lens – a critical analysis of the values and meanings embedded in contemporary academic library discourse and modes of communication.

Language both reflects and shapes the values and priorities at work in academic libraries and the broader socio-political environment in which they operate. We are interested in the patterns language creates – patterns that may be unconscious or unnoticed, yet have effects on and implications for library theory, practice and culture.

We welcome interdisciplinary papers that unearth and examine how language and other modes of communication in libraries form, and are formed by, societal forces – be they political or economic systems, racial, gender or class structures, or the military-industrial complex, to name a few. Papers might consider questions such as: What are dominant or accepted “languages” or modes of communication in academic libraries? What values do they imply? Must we engage in them? Should we? Why? If not, what are alternatives? What are barriers to alternatives? In responding to such questions, this book will address how language reflects and influences academic library culture and values, as well as librarians’ ability to engage with library users and each other, with their own institutions, and with the larger library milieu and the public.

Paper topics include but are not limited to:

– Digital messaging: the language of screens and websites
– Racial bias in library language
– Indigenous voices
– What do spaces, places and placement ‘say’?
– “Branding”: academic library as market place
– Shift from silence to noise in the academic library
– Emotion in workplace language
– Absent language (e.g. “problem” is a problem word)
– Codes of conduct
– Corporate language
– Discourse around “professionalism”
– Crisis culture
– Micro-aggression (verbal and nonverbal)
– Rhetoric as activism
– Rhetoric as replacement for action
– The “respectful workplace” and the silencing of disagreement and dialogue
– Library jargon
– Litany of literacies – info, 21st century, critical, etc.
– Traditional mode of the academic library paper
– Trickledown effect: Messages in management modelling and mentorship

The editors will contribute to the collection. Melanie Boyd, with linguist Ozouf Amedegnato, will address the use of war and military metaphor in academic library culture. Natasha Gerolami will assess the implications of the discourse of secularism and neutrality in academic libraries. Courtney Waugh will analyze neoliberal language in academic library strategic plans.

Proposal submissions

The editors are especially interested in papers co-written by a librarian (as lead author) and a scholar from a discipline outside Library and Information Science. Such an intersection of scholars integrates two strengths, potentially raising many different ways of thinking about issues important to the library and, it follows, the whole academic community. Proposals for single-authored papers are also welcome, and will receive equal consideration.

Proposals and papers must be in English. Proposals for papers that use innovative or non-traditional writing approaches will be considered. Only previously unpublished papers will be accepted.

Authors whose proposals are accepted will be invited to submit a full paper for consideration. Papers will be subject to editorial assessment and blind peer review.

Proposals are to include: title, description (no more than 500 words), and a brief biography of the author(s). Remit the proposal as a word document in an email to Melanie Boyd with the subject line: Proposal: Language Academic Libraries: Last Name(s).


Proposal submissions: May 1, 2016.
Authors will be notified by May 31, 2016 whether or not their proposal is accepted.
The deadline to submit full papers is September 1, 2016.

Please feel free to contact Melanie Boyd to discuss a potential topic or with any questions you may have.