Call for Papers: Assemblage, Inquiry, and Common Work in LIS - An Invitation


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Guest Editors: Melissa Adler and Baharak Yousefi

Writing about Audre Lorde’s astute, cautionary, and abiding observation that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house, prison abolitionist and geographer, Ruth Wilson Gilmore tells us that “the issue is not whether the master uses, or endorses the use of, some tool or another. Rather, who controls the conditions and the ends to which any tools are wielded?”[1] Information workers tend to be regarded as the keepers, organizers, and providers of the tools of research, but they are not always valued as researchers themselves. Kristin Hoffmann and Lise Doucette recently found that many librarians don’t view their research to be “real research” and suggest that this belief is due in part to the fact that structures and supports that exist for other researchers, are not available to librarians.[2] The irony of this observation is something we wish to explore. Indeed, Lorde departed librarianship because she believed her social justice activism and creative work could not be fully realized within the institutionalized profession. And as Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz explains, librarians have a duty “to learn from Lorde’s choice to act in a space where silence can be transformed into language and action.”[3] How can we create a culture in which we see this work as our collective project?   

We believe that the current separations along lines of status and areas of research and practice diminish our capacity to shape our work and serve our communities. Most significantly, they diminish our potential to dismantle and rebuild through questioning and research. In public, academic, school, and special libraries, archives, museums, and LIS faculties; in all areas of practice such as public service, information literacy, collections, data management, knowledge organization; in issues that we care about like justice, liberation, memory, history, geography, research, teaching, and access, we ask, “who controls the conditions and to which ends are the tools wielded?” 

This project aims to facilitate conversations and set the stage for common work. Rather than speaking about divisions along lines of research/theory/practice or librarian/archivist/scholar/faculty/practitioner, our aim is to study together and to foster spaces where we share interests, ideas, goals, and worries. Our work is impossible to neatly define in terms of job descriptions and titles, and so we want to discuss the various dimensions of the research we do and want to do, as well as our hopes for how that work will be carried forth in practice, and in ongoing dialogue. We also hope to hear stories about the barriers you have encountered, the opportunities you have witnessed or taken advantage of, and ways you have forged spaces for solidarity and collaboration. Our sense is that we have encountered barriers and opportunities in many different ways, and that collectively, we might arrive at greater understanding, greater hope, and greater power.

We invite proposals for papers on topics including (but not limited to): 

  • What areas of LIS are most conducive to, in need of, or benefit from collaboration among practicing library, archive, and museum workers, university professors / instructors, and patrons or communities?
  • How can we build a culture of doing and supporting and recognizing LIS research across the field?
  • What are the questions we need to be asking of our field? 
  • To what extent does solution-based or outcome-based research limit our capacity to closely examine the field?
  • What is our relationship to disciplinarity, mastery, claims, and extraction with regard to knowledge production? Is there room for interdisciplinary or un-disciplinary research? Is there value in unmastering knowledge or refusing to make claims? What might that look like?
  • What are the barriers to and/or opportunities for collaboration and communication within and across LIS communities? Can new collaborations help us address complex issues in ways that have not been able to do in our current silos?
  • Which research methods are most productive in the work of dismantling and rebuilding? How might Indigenous, anti-racist, and anti-colonial approaches to research reorganize the tools of research and how they are used? 
  • In what ways are arts-based methods / research creation approaches applicable to LIS? 
  • How can research influence or inform activism? Can practice, experience, and communities inform an activist research agenda in LIS? What topics or issues have integrated activism and research effectively? Which areas need more attention?
  • How can research inform local, regional, national, or international policy?
  • How can research inform teaching, and how does teaching inform research?
  • What is the use of basic or theoretical or historical research in LIS? In what ways is it productive or counterproductive to draw a distinction between basic or theoretical research and applied research in LIS? Does/can basic research inform LIS practice?

Please send abstracts of up to 500 words for proposed research articles, perspective pieces, or creative works to by May 1, 2021. Proposals should include main argument or findings, methodologies and/ or theoretical frameworks. Based on submitted abstracts, invitations for full proposals will be sent by June 1, 2021. Full submissions will be due September 1, 2021, with rolling publication dates in Winter/Spring 2022.


Types of Submissions

JCLIS welcomes the following types of submissions:

  • Research Articles (no more than 7,000 words)
  • Perspective Essays (no more than 5,000 words)
  • Literature Reviews (no more than 7,000 words)
  • Interviews (no more than 5,000 words)
  • Book or Exhibition Reviews (no more than 1,200 words)

Research articles and literature reviews are subject to peer review by two referees. Perspective essays are subject to peer review by one referee. Interviews and book or exhibition reviews are subject to review by the issue editor(s).



[1] Ruth Wilson Gilmore, "Public Enemies and Private Intellectuals: Apartheid USA," Race & Class 35, no. 1 (1993): 69-78.

[2] Lise Doucette and Kristin Hoffmann, “Conceptions of Research Among Academic Librarians and Archivists,” Canadian Journal of Academic Librarianship 5 (2019): 1-25.

[3] Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, “Referencing Audre Lorde,” in Reference Librarianship and Justice: History, Practice, and Praxis, eds. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, and Eamon Tewell (Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press, 2018): 279.