Politics of Libraries 2018
April 23, 2018
School of Library and Information Studies
University of Alberta


Where: School of Library and Information Management, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.

When: April 23, 2018.

Call for papers: December 15 - January 30.

Registration opens: February/March 2018.

Registration fee: none (conference attendance is free).


Politics in Libraries Conference – Monday, April 23rd, 2018

School of Library and Information Studies, Room 3-01, Rutherford Library South, University of Alberta

  • 8:45 - 9:00: Welcome and opening remarks
  • 9:00 - 9:25: Non-neutrality & the effect of colonialism on librarianship: Cases in Globalization, ICTs, and international librarianship
    Mark-Shane Scale

    Abstract: My presentation questions the assumptions of non-neutrality in the knowledge shared by libraries and the mechanisms through which access to global information is provided. Applying Nettleford’s (2003) analysis, I examine the effect of colonialism on libraries and on modern ICT initiatives.
  • 9:25 - 9:50: OCLC and WorldCat: consolidation and monopolization of a core library service
    Kris Joseph

    Abstract: Economic forces have encouraged libraries to collaborate on shared services, but it can be argued that the OCLC’s current operations are monopolistic and ripe for disruption. This presentation examines the creation, growth, and subsequent domination of OCLC and the WorldCat catalog through an application of Tim Wu’s (2010) model of the innovation cycle.
  • 9:50 - 10:15: “Repressed desire”: social responsibility and the neoliberal turn
    Sam Popowich

    Abstract: The late 1960s saw a radical transformation of the mode of capitalist accumulation. Theorizing this transition offers new insights into the social responsibility in libraries debates of the period.
  • 10:15 - 10:30: 15-minute break (coffee provided)
  • 10:30 - 10:55: Collective agreements and the freedom for librarians to research
    Maureen Babb

    Abstract: The ability to conduct and disseminate research on any topic, even a politically sensitive one, is a component of academic freedom. The collective agreements, which govern the rights and responsibilities of librarians, of twelve Canadian universities were examined to determine the state of academic freedom and the expectations and provisions for research at these institutions.
  • 10:55 - 11:15: Fairly slippery: the political use, abuse, and misuse of “fair dealing” in Canadian opinion journalism, 2016-2017
    Corinne Gilroy

    Abstract: This presentation will examine political uses of the legal term “fair dealing” by various copyright stakeholders in Canada. In order to illustrate the limits and contours of various communities, “fair dealing” will be approached less as a signifier than as a boundary object.
  • 11:15 - 11:40 Invested and invisible identities: politics of language in libraries
    Ean Henninger

    Abstract: Although they often go unexamined, linguistic acts constitute political behavior and shape the potential for engaging in such behavior both inside and outside of libraries. By drawing on work in applied linguistics and making specific reference to ideologies about neoliberalism and multilingualism, this presentation will explore how critical approaches to language practices can help library workers increase investment both in their organizations and in broader political activity.
  • 11:40 - 12:05: The political economy of the research library: on chattel and rent
    Adam Siegel

    Abstract: A review of the history of the modern (i.e., post-Renaissance) research library is instructive: by reviewing and confronting their own history, concentrating in particular on early modern modes of collecting, organizing, describing, and using information (i.e., "primitive accumulation"), libraries gain an heuristic to improve service to research communities within the confines of current copyright and intellectual property law. Argued in closing that libraries must resume limiting contractual obligations vis-a-vis vendors by regarding them as sellers of chattel goods rather than rentier service providers.
  • 12:05 - 1:15: Lunch (not provided)
  • 1:15 - 1:40: A look into closed access capitalism and LIS publishing practices
    Robyn Hall

    Abstract: Drawing on data from an investigation of 127 academic, peer-reviewed journals in library and information science (LIS), this presentation will discuss ways that those working in LIS can take back control over how their work is disseminated and shared online. For this to happen, however, members of the profession need to recognize and consciously grapple with the ubiquitous capitalist system that informs so many of the services, functions, and expectations that are tied to the profession.
  • 1:40 - 2:05: The library as market
    Nailisa Tanner

    Abstract: “The marketplace of Ideas” is frequently invoked in debates concerning the merits of free, unrestricted speech; as social and information centres of their communities, libraries are frequently implicated in these debates. This presentation contextualizes the phrase in liberal and neoliberal political thought, and considers what is at stake in using this metaphor as speech becomes marketized in an ever more literal sense.
  • 2:05 - 2:35: Break-out logistics
  • 2:35 - 2:50: 15-minute break
  • 2:50 - 4:00: Break-out sessions
  • 4:00 - 4:30: Breakout wrap-up, closing remarks & adjournment


Registration is now open for the 2018 Politics of Libraries conference, April 23 2018. Conference attendance is free of charge but we encourage registration so that we can get a sense of the numbers. The conference schedule can be found here.

Register now

Organizing Committee

  • Shane Allan
  • Richard Bee
  • Michelle De Agostini
  • Celine Gareau-Brennan
  • Mary Greenshields
  • Amanda Larsen
  • Lorisia MacLeod
  • Michael McNally
  • Sam Popowich

Code of Conduct

Politics of Libraries seeks to provide a welcoming, professionally engaging, fun, and safe conference experience and ongoing community for everyone. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. Discriminatory language and imagery (including sexual) is not appropriate.

Harassment is understood as any behavior that threatens or demeans another person or group, or produces an unsafe environment. It includes offensive verbal comments or non-verbal expressions related to gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religious or political beliefs; sexual or discriminatory images in public spaces (including online); deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Conflict Resolution

1. Initial Incident

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, and you feel comfortable speaking with the offender, please inform the offender that she/ze/he has affected you negatively. Oftentimes, the offending behavior is unintentional, and the accidental offender and offended will resolve the incident by having that initial discussion.

Politics of Libraries recognizes that there are many reasons speaking directly to the offender may not be workable for you. If you don't feel comfortable speaking directly with the offender for any reason, skip straight to step 2.

2. Escalation

If the offender insists that she/ze/he did not offend, if offender is actively harassing you, or if direct engagement is not a good option for you at this time, then you will need a third party to step in. At the Politics of Libraries conference, if you need any assistance with respect to harassment, please contact Amanda Larsen. The full organizing committee will introduce themselves at the beginning of the conference so you know who we are. If you require any assistance with respect to harassment, please find Amanda or any of the other organizers, and they will be able to help you.


Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. If a participant engages in harassing behavior, organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender and expulsion from the event.

We value everyone's participation in the conference, and will all work to keep the conference a safe and friendly space for all participants!

(Adapted from the Code4Lib Code of Conduct)

Contact Us

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact politicsoflibraries@gmail.com.