Call for Papers

Art Libraries Section

Tackling the Challenges of Multilingualism in the Arts: Catalogues, Databases, Digital Collections and Other Material in the Global Context


In order to mirror the theme of the IFLA World Libraries and Information Congress 2011 in San Juan, “Libraries beyond libraries: Integration, Innovation and Information for all," the Art Libraries Section of IFLA will be organizing a two-hour Open Session: Tackling the Challenges of Multilingualism in the Arts: Catalogues, Databases, Digital Collections and Other Material in the Global Context. Since supranational communication and global availability of data, sources and collections have become the norm, the systems for discovering, aggregating and validating information have changed radically. The exchange of information is no longer determined by boundaries of national affiliation, local tradition and institutional control. This access is now influenced by the communication protocols of search engines, digital networks, data harvesters and aggregators as well as by machine based content analysis. However, whilst computers and data formats communicate globally with ease, users continue to employ their native languages. As long as navigation and discovery in networked data environments continue to be based predominantly on linguistic terms, multiple incompatibilities will impede an all-embracing interconnectedness of knowledge.

Unlike in many other disciplines, exploring arts and art history adequately requires a supranational if not global perspective. Artistic movements and developments often crossed national, linguistic and cultural borders; the exchange of artistic concepts, skills and styles has always been a substantial drive in the arts in the same manner as the collecting and transfer of artifacts across countries and continents. Many museum collections clearly mirror this phenomenon. They were often founded by collectors with a global perspective. However, at the same time they have been maintained in a local or nationally determined way. Related art libraries follow national systems, conventions and rules, even though they cover a wide spectrum of cultures, nations, movements and figures. Many interrelationships, similarities and connections remain to be discovered. Yet, at the same time linguistic diversities significantly impede this process. Consequently art research is an ideal discipline for solutions which can help to overcome the obstacle of linguistic diversity in a globally connected world.

Aims of the Session

The IFLA Art Libraries Section conference seeks to be a platform for presenting, analyzing and discussing solutions, models and proposals related to the
challenge of overcoming those linguistic boundaries which impede the supranational communication of information aggregators in the arts. Since descriptors like subject headings play a key role in indexing and categorizing data, new models for a multilinguistic validation of related information are an urgent concern.


The Open Session will last for two hours. Speakers are restricted to 20 minutes. Afterwards there will be time for questions and comments from the audience. All seven official IFLA languages are acceptable for the presentations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Russian and Spanish). Papers in English are preferred because no simultaneous translation is planned for this session.

Submission guidelines

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

  • Title of the paper
  • Author(s) of the paper
  • Abstract or summary of the paper (200-400 maximum words)
  • Speaker's info: name, address, professional affiliation, email address, biographical note (40 words)

Important Dates

  • 28 February 2011: Deadline for submission of proposals and abstracts
  • 15 March 2011: Notification of acceptance by the Review Committee of the Section
  • 30 May 2011: Deadline for submission of full text of the paper

Please submit your proposals to:

Jan Simane
Chair of the Section
Martin Flynn
Secretary of the Section
Lucile Trunel
Information Officer of the Section


All proposals must be in before 28 February 2011.

Please note

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 can be issued to authors.

Congress Attendance Grants

The Puerto Rico National Committee and IFLA have worked hard to secure funds for Conference Participation Grants. Please check our Conference Participation Grants webpage for the most up-to-date information.

Last update: 24 January 2011