3 December 2020

Announcement

Call for Abstracts: IFLA Journal special issue on Intellectual Freedom

Submission Deadline: 1 March 2021

IFLA JournalIFLA Journal and the IFLA Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) Advisory Committee are pleased to announce a call for abstracts for a special issue that marks the 20th anniversary of the IFLA Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom. The journal seeks to publish new and original research, case studies, and essays that will a) examine the impact the Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom has had on the library profession over the past twenty years, and/or b) examine the impact of the past twenty years on the Statement. 

Abstracts will be considered for invited submissions that will address the following areas as they relate to the Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom:

Professional Impact

  1. Professional Practice
    1. Library and Information Science (LIS) education
    2. Acquisitions and collection development
    3. The relationship between personal beliefs and professional responsibility
  2. Defence of Freedom of Expression (FOE)
    1. Activism
    2. Capacity to defend FOE 
  3. Impact of the statement on profession at large
    1. Adoption of the statement within national context
    2. Examples of libraries defending intellectual freedom, based on the principles of the Statement

The Changing World

  1. Information environment
    1. Disinformation/Fake news (i.e. active manipulation of environment)
    2. Algorithms /machine learning/artificial intelligence (i.e. incidental/accidental manipulation of environment)
    3. Anonymity/Privacy/Right to be forgotten
  2. Impacts of a changing political environment on statement’s relevance
    1. UN Declarations and positions in the past 20 years (including UN Declaration of Human Rights)
    2. Climate change
    3. Rise of populism

Guest Editors

Stuart Hamilton, PhD
Head of Libraries Development for the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA), Ireland

Barbara Jones
Consultant and former Director of the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom

Specific Topics of interest include

Professional Impact

  1. Professional Practice
    1. LIS education
    2. Acquisitions and collection development
    3. The relationship between personal beliefs and professional responsibility
    4. The library space: events and activities

The contemporary working environment for library staff looks considerably different to 1999. The outlooks and viewpoints librarians take into professional practice continue to be shaped by LIS education, but an LIS education that has reacted – or not - to the emergence of the growing impact of electronic resources, social media; and the increasing diversity of society and views.  Has the Statement impacted LIS education in any way, and are new librarians entering the workplace with better knowledge of the principles that the Statement contains? Do LIS educators today find the need for changes in the Statement and, if so, what changes?

Once in the workplace, the statement calls on libraries to ensure that the selection and availability of library materials and services is governed by professional considerations and not by political, moral and religious views. Have library acquisitions policies in the past 20 years evolved because of the Statement's principles?  Have library holdings adapted to changes in the world in line with the statement’s objectives? When it comes to selection, can/should individual belief and professional responsibility be separated and, if so, how?

The library space itself can be a place of contention. The statement confirms the library as a place where facilities and services are equally accessible to all users, but are libraries able to fulfil this at a time when ‘cancel culture’ or ‘de-platforming’ are increasingly familiar concepts? Are libraries still able to safely reflect diversity of views and avoid censorship in any form?

  1. Defence of FOE
    1. Activism
    2. Capacity to defend FOE

The Statement is radical in its insistence that librarians be active in support of its principles. It speaks clearly to a professional responsibility both to guarantee and to facilitate access to expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity. In this context, how has the statement been used to support freedom of expression? Has the library field engaged in enough affirmative, promotional campaigns in support of the Statement’s values?  How can activist policies be put into practice with library staff and the general public? How can we reach across professions such as social workers or medical professionals to promote access to information? What are the most effect methods at libraries’ disposal to promote diversity of views instead of censorship? What tools do we need that we don’t presently have, or use effectively?

We particularly welcome analysis and exploration of controversial ideas and books being defended in a library context, or campaigns undertaken in support of the Statement’s values.

  1. Impact of the statement on profession at large
    1. Adoption of the statement within national context
    2. Examples of libraries defending intellectual freedom, based on the principles of the Statement

The Statement has been translated into more than 30 languages and has international resonance. Are there examples of the statement being adopted – are adapted - in national contexts? Have librarians found that their national laws or cultural practices conflict with the Statement and if so, why? Challenges to intellectual freedom in libraries have been a feature of the last 20 years in libraries all over the world but how have librarians defended against these challenges, based on the principles of the Statement? We seek qualitative case studies that analyse incidents and patterns of intellectual freedom under threat and library responses.

The Changing World

  1. Information environment
    1. Disinformation/Fake news (i.e. active manipulation of environment)
    2. Algorithms /machine learning/artificial intelligence (i.e. incidental/accidental manipulation of environment)
    3. Anonymity/Privacy/Right to be forgotten

Since the Statement’s publication the veracity of information has been increasingly called into question as the concepts of ‘fake news’ and disinformation have gained currency. In parallel, the increasing prevalence of algorithms in all facets of search, as well as advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, increasingly affect which information is presented to us, or result in incidental or accidental manipulation of the information ecosystem. Our ability to remain private when seeking information is also affected by these processes while at the same time the Right to be Forgotten has created an opportunity for some information to be ‘lost’.

How have these changes to the information environment impacted the statement’s relevance? How have they affected the right to know, and the right to privacy? What literacies are needed to navigate this environment? To what extent can libraries preserve anonymity in the shadow of electronic licensing agreements for access to eBooks and other digital resources?

  1. Impacts of a changing political environment on statement’s relevance
    1. UN Declarations and positions in the past 20 years (including UN Declaration of Human Rights)
    2. Climate change
    3. Rise of populism

The global political environment has changed greatly over the past twenty years, providing a variety of contexts for the Statement’s principles and affirmations to stand against. Greater scrutiny has emerged regarding the ‘western’ nature of related documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet at the same time the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030 has sought to provide a unified global approach to the problem of inequality. An increasing focus on climate change has united generations in activism, yet populist movements that arose or grew stronger in response to global events such as the financial crisis of 2008 set one group against another. To what extent have the impact of political movements at national and international affected the relevance of the Statement? Does the emergence of new political directions need to be better reflected in the Statement, or does sufficient flexibility exist to address the circumstances of the world in 2021?

Submission Deadline

Abstracts are requested for consideration for the special issue should be submitted to IFLA Journal for review by 1 March 2021.  Selected abstracts will be invited to submit a manuscript for full-peer review and inclusion in the special issue.

How to Submit an abstract

IFLA Journal is hosted on ScholarOne™ Manuscripts, a web-based online submission and peer review system SAGE Track. Please read the Manuscript Submission guidelines, and then simply visit the IFLA Journal Manuscript submission webpage to login and submit your article online.

For consideration for submission to the special issue, please provide a general abstract of no more than 150 words and upload an extended abstract of approximately 300 words that provides the significance, scope, and research methods for the manuscript by 1 March 2021 via IFLA Journal's ScholarOne Manuscripts submission website. Authors will need to indicate within the system whether they will provide an original article, review article, case study, or essay (see below for further details).  Authors will receive notification whether their abstracts have been accepted by 15 March 2021. Manuscripts will be due by 1 June 2021. Each manuscript will undergo peer-review prior to acceptance for the special issue.  This special issue will be published by late 2021.   

About IFLA Journal

IFLA Journal is an international journal publishing peer reviewed articles on library and information services and the social, political and economic issues that impact access to information through libraries. The Journal publishes research, case studies and essays that reflect the broad spectrum of the profession internationally. All articles are subject to peer review. Articles are published in English. Abstracts will be translated by IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) into the other working languages of IFLA—Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Russian or Spanish—for publication.

IFLA Journal is published by Sage Publications and is the official journal of IFLA, and has an international readership consisting of academic institutions, professional organizations, and IFLA Members who all receive a free subscription to the journal.

Each issue of IFLA Journal is made available Open Access upon publication on IFLA’s website.  Authors are also encouraged to make the accepted version of their manuscripts available in their personal or institutional repositories.

Article Types

Original Articles

Original articles constitute traditional empirical research, drawing on quantitative, qualitative, or mixed research methodologies. 

Review Articles

A review article provides a detailed and authoritative summation of the current state of research and understanding on an important topic within the field.  A review article should not only document important figures working on a topic but also examine recent advances, current debates, gaps, and future directions for research on the topic.

Essays

Provide informed analysis of viewpoints, trends, and controversies within the field of LIS.  For example, an essay may contribute an important conceptual analysis of policies that impact and contribute to the information environment as it impacts the profession locally and/or globally.  Further, essays may provide the basis for further empirical research, policy analysis, action, or theorizing within the field.

Case Studies

Case Studies provide a valuable record of practices of the LIS professions.  As a distinct qualitative methodology, case studies for IFLA journal research both practical and theoretical issues in the field by focusing on a single case. 

IFLA Journal, FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Access to Information), Intellectual freedom