Call for Papers: Open Sessions

Library Theory and Research Section


"Participatory Projects in Libraries: connecting collaborative communities"

The IFLA Library Theory and Research Section (LTR) is pleased to invite submissions for its forthcoming open session in Columbus, Ohio, USA.

Aim and Scope of the Session

The theme “Participatory Projects in Libraries: connecting collaborative communities” reflects the global theme of the IFLA 2016 Congress, “Connections. Collaboration. Community.”

How are libraries reconnecting with the public and demonstrating their value and relevance in contemporary life?  As a consequence of what could be called a crisis of representation, a disintegration of physical social ties, and issues concerning cultural isolationism, community participation, as a mode of public activity, has gone through what seems to be massive change in  the last 10 years.  The main representation of this change is electronic connectivity between individuals.  The social Web has ushered in a dizzying set of tools and design patterns that make participation more accessible than ever. As public institutions, libraries have as one of their missions, to realise public actions and activity in the field of culture in many ways including: access to information, reading and literacy, free internet and computer literacy, preservation of cultural heritage, cultural programs (theatre, dance, movie projections), social programs (language exchange, forums…).

How are libraries inviting their communities to actively engage as cultural participants, not passive consumers? As more people enjoy and become accustomed to participatory learning and entertainment experiences, do they want to do more than just borrow books and other material from the library?   Are library communities expecting the ability to discuss, share, and remix what they consume?  If so, how are our libraries dealing with this?  How are our libraries moving to retain their position as central to cultural and community life?  Are libraries leading, by themselves or at the request of the elected politicians, this new form of public activity?  And how are they doing this?

The LTR Section would be most interested in hearing from libraries around the world about the research methodology used to investigate on these issues. And if so, what might have been the background research carried out (no matter how non technical this might be) to come up with the participatory project your library has executed?  How is your library measuring success/failure of the project?  What might be your library’s next steps?  Did your library’s participatory project/s question any aspects of librarianship: for example your acquisitions programme of documents for the public, your cultural and social programmes, how is your library evolving?  Is your library evolving?

Some ideas to help you on your way are:

  • Did you undertake a public survey?  What were the responses to it and how did you deal with them?
  • Did you library come under political motivation/s to change the way it was operating and how did you investigate ways to deal with this?
  • What background investigation did you undertake on social issues emerging in your community to make your participatory project rethink the role of you library in inclusion, visibility and empowerment of communities?
  • Did your participatory project/s reveal a redefinition of the librarian him/herself – from the expert in library science to a collaborative cultural projects animator/leader?
  • Did you participatory project reveal new communities to welcome and what background investigations/research did you undertake to do this?

Conversely, questioning or defining the limits of these projects can’t be avoided:

  • The effectiveness of the project: did the public really participate?
  • The potential exploitation of these projects or the instrumental political reaction,
  • The utilization of participation as a business way to rethink the model of the library?

Our Session will look in a scholarly way at those participatory projects with theoretical and analytical approach to go over case studies and good practice.

Papers exploring research on participatory projects in libraries or participative libraries are invited. Indeed, this question includes sociological, professional, educational, philosophical and historical issues, all of which have the potential to contribute to a better connection with our public.

It is anticipated that presentations be 15-20 minutes with time for questions at the end of the session.

Important dates

15 February 2016
Deadline for submission of abstract
15 March 2016
Notification of acceptance/rejection
31 May 2016
Deadline for submission of text

Submission Guidelines

The proposals must be submitted in an electronic format (PDF) and must contain:

  • Title of paper
  • Summary of paper (250 – 350 words maximum)
  • Speaker’s name, address, telephone and fax numbers, professional affiliation, email address and biographical note (40 words)

The proposal must be submitted by email in English; French-speaking presenters can present their abstract in French and in English. The accepted papers are to be presented during the 2016 conference in one of the official languages of IFLA.

The final paper should preferably be presented as a full paper (that may be published on the IFLA website and as an option in the IFLA Journal). If the final presentation will be in the format of a power point, and a substantial abstract will be required, including references such as URLs and bibliographies.

Submissions should be sent by email, before Saturday, 15 February 2016, to:

Raphaëlle Bats
IFLA LTR Section SC Member, International Relations Officer, Enssib, France

Milan Vasiljevic
IFLA LTR Section SC Member, Electronic Resource Management Librarian, Qatar National Library, Qatar

Jennifer Weil Arns
IFLA LTR Section SC Member, Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, College of Information and Communications, South Carolina University


All proposals must be in before 15 February 2016.

Please note

At least one of the paper’s authors must be present to deliver a summary of the paper during the program in Columbus, Ohio. Abstracts should only be submitted with the understanding that the expenses of attending the conference will be the responsibility of the author(s)/presenter(s) of accepted papers.

All papers that are presented at the WLIC 2016 will be made available online via the IFLA Library under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Authors of accepted papers must complete the IFLA Authors’ Permission Form.

All expenses, including registration for the conference, travel, accommodation etc., are the responsibility of the authors/presenters. No financial support can be provided by IFLA, but a special invitation letter can be issued to authors.

Congress Participation Grants

List of opportunities for support is available on our Conference Participation Grants webpage.