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Call for proposals on language & power

“You know you’ve just talked your way into an article for Open Shelf?” Anyone having a conversation with me may find themselves at the receiving end of this question. Or, in the case of regular Open Shelf columnists Jennifer Brown and John Pateman, I said, “You’ve just created the foundation for a special issue on language.”

We were sitting around the editorial table at Super Conference this past February (2018), debriefing over the past year and imagining what 2018 would bring in terms of content. Both John and Jennifer are interested in social relationships and the role that language plays in creating power imbalances between individuals and groups. They quickly became engaged in a lively conversation about the underlying beliefs that drive how we talk about and identify each other … and how our words frame our interactions and sense of what is “right.”

And so, naturally, they talked their way into editing our upcoming issue on language which will be published in November 2018.

We’d like to invite our Ontario Library Association (OLA) members to participate in this issue so consider this a call for proposals. What is your thinking about language and power? Have you tried to address “naming” practices in your library? How do you address issues of social justice and access that could be facilitated by changing the way we talk about (think about) each other?

We are “open to all” ideas for articles that speak to these issues.

What are the proposal parameters? There are three:

  • A working title
  • A 250-word description of the issues (including programs) that the article would address
  • A short bio

You can send your proposal to and put “Language special issue proposal” in the subject line.  The deadline for proposals is August 20, 2018. Jennifer and John will respond to all authors by September 20, 2018.

We look forward to hearing from you—conversations such as these are critical to ensuring open access for library users and staff.

Martha (Attridge Bufton)
Editor-in-Chief, Open Shelf

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