Special Issue: Turning It Off and Back On Again: Speculative Digital Librarianship

Call for Proposal – Special Issue:
“Turning It Off And Back On Again: Speculative Digital Librarianship”

Digital Librarianship is a thriving subfield of LIS, concerned with the tools, technologies, theory and practice of creating, managing, sharing, and exploring digitized and born-digital material held by cultural heritage institutions.

Critical digital librarianship interrogates the practice of the subfield using queer, feminist, anti-racist, and other theoretical frameworks.

Critiques of digital librarianship regularly expose historical inequities and cultural expectations inherited from the larger field of LIS. For example: harmful descriptive practices are based on harmful processing and cataloging practices more broadly, and problematic digitization selection and (the lack of) representation in digital projects are directly related to long-standing biases in archival science and collection development.

Moving beyond the shortcomings of the past requires us to imagine a new future. To this end, the editors of the Journal of Critical Digital Librarianship invite submissions to the special issue “Turning it Off and Turning it Back On: Speculative Digital Librarianship.”

List of anticipated themes

Specifically (but not exclusively) we invite contributions exploring: Speculative digital libraries:

What could we do if we dreamed big?
  • …if we weren’t tied to the technology and infrastructure we happen to have?
  • …if we weren’t limited by insufficient resources?
  • …if we weren’t pressured to chase the latest trends?
How we, as people, would rather interact with digital libraries:
  • How could our work be more rewarding, both personally and professionally?
  • What would a joyous experience with digital librarianship look like?
  • How could we better celebrate the complexities and messiness of digital libraries?

Formats and Styles

We understand that new thoughts might require new modes of expression. In an effort to explore a fuller range of such creative expression, we welcome proposals for traditional academic papers as well as:

  • Case studies of attempted reimaginings or speculative futures
  • Short fiction
  • Poetry
  • Visual art
  • Recorded audio and video

How to Submit a Proposal

Please send an email to criticaldiglib@gmail.com In your email, please include:
  • Your Name
  • Your email address (a gmail address if possible for ongoing revisions)
  • Your proposal in 300 words or less (including links to additional files if not text)


For text-based submissions, ongoing comments and reviews will be handled through Google Docs For audio- and visual-based submissions, we'll find a workflow appropriate for each submission.


  • Feb: CFP Release
  • March 15: Information Session 1
  • April 3: Information Session 2
  • April 30: Deadline for Initial Proposal -- Short (300 word max) description of your idea
  • May 19: Responses and comments from editorial team -- Acceptances and Regrets, other general comments
  • July 7: First draft of accepted pieces due
  • July 28: Feedback / Comments on first draft
  • September 1: Draft two due
  • September 22: Comments on second draft
  • October 13: Final Draft due
  • October 16 - 20: Final editorial review and decisions
  • October 23 - November 3: Copy edits and formatting
  • November 6 - November 17: Final review and acceptance by contributors
  • December 4: Publication goal

Open Peer Review

Following the peer review structure of the JCDL, the special issue will be open peer reviewed. Please see more about the review process here: https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/jcdl/about.html

Informational Sessions

The editors invite all interested authors to attend an information session to learn more about the goals of the issue and to participate in collaborative brainstorming.

  • Session One: March 15, 10am, Central
  • Session Two: April 3, 10am, Central
Registration Link: https://forms.gle/5ozAxG1X1npbCwe28

Special Issue Editorial Team

  • Leah Duncan, JCDL Co-Editor, Louisiana State University Libraries
  • Janina Mueller, Metadata and Digital Initiatives Librarian, Assistant Professor
  • Rachel Starry, Digital Scholarship Librarian, University of California, Riverside
  • Emily Zinger, Southeast Asia Digital Librarian, Cornell University
  • Sohie Ziegler, JCDL Co-Editor, Solidarity History Initiative

Code of Conduct

The Journal of Critical Digital Librarianship is committed to creating and supporting an inclusive, diverse, and equitable community of practice. Please see our full Code of Conduct here: https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/jcdl/policies.html

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