CFP: Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of ALA/ACRL – RBMS 2023: A New Kind of Professional

Invitation to Submit Proposals for RBMS 2023: A New Kind of Professional
Location: Bloomington, IN (University of Indiana)
Dates: June 27-30
Deadline for submission: January 20
Submission Form

We invite proposals for in-person or virtual individual papers, panels, discussion sessions, lightning talks (including the Power of New Voices session), posters, seminars and workshops. For over two decades, calls for increased diversity, equity, and inclusion across the profession and our broader cultural heritage networks have sparked passionate discussions about how we educate, whose talent we are (or are not) retaining, labor practices and how they shape our work, chronic lack of funds and unfilled vacancies, and the continued dominance of wealthy, white, cisgendered people in the few positions of power that offer adequate resources for living. We commit to continuous improvement in accessibility and transparency in the proposal process, and to providing clarity and openness in finalizing the program.

How do we become the workers, colleagues, and thinkers we want to be? How do we encourage, teach, and provide opportunities for others to do the same? What does the future of cultural heritage work look like, and how do we prepare ourselves, as well as guide new practitioners?

Eight session formats are available and potential topics might include but are not limited to:

Educational Preparation

  • Expectations for special collections librarians
  • Degree programs, continuing education, and levels of qualification
  • Gaps, such as curatorial education, administrative skills, management, foreign languages, and subject expertise
  • Bibliography, archival theory, and other academic ventures
  • Allied disciplines and adjacent professions
  • Skill sets and emerging digital environments

Economics and Funding

  • Internships, hiring, pay, career paths, career development
  • Tenure and non-tenure library roles
  • Diversity and equitable opportunities
  • Recruitment, retention, promotion, empowerment–and how these processes can be changed
  • The increasingly complex demands of GLAMS (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, and Special Collections) professions

Employment and Workplaces

  • Affective education, building emotionally supportive professional environments
  • New approaches to collections and collecting
  • New scholarly directions focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Career changes
  • Peer education, and how we engage with and support one other
  • Advocating with administration
  • Organizing around labor issues and social justice
  • Critiques of professionalism

Seeing inspiration/collaboration? Check out this spreadsheet and jamboard.

Statement of Values
The Conference Program Planning Committee for RBMS 2023 is committed to building a challenging, safe, and fun conference for all. We value a variety of perspectives on special collections work, and seek to challenge the limiting binaries through which it is often framed, such as scholarly vs. logistical; rare books vs. archives; paraprofessional vs. professional; technical vs. user/public services; bookseller vs. information professional. We see social justice as integral to all aspects of our shared cultural heritage work and preparing people for that work. Through this social justice lens, we strive to enable collaboration and communication in ways that are relevant and accessible to all, regardless of career stage or trajectory.

RBMS 2023 presenters will be required to 1) register and pay to attend the conference (or attend by scholarship), either in-person or virtually, depending on session modality; 2) grant permission for recording and broadcast of presentation as part of the conference; 3) participate in online speaker orientation.

Selection Criteria
The RBMS 2023 Conference committees will evaluate proposal content on the following criteria:

  • Point of view/Perspective
  • Impact/Creativity
  • Applicability/Timeliness
  • Relevance to Conference Theme
  • Clarity of Proposal
  • Educational component (for Seminars)

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