CFP: CJAL Special Issue: Libraries and/as Extraction

The Canadian Journal of Academic Librarianship has announced a call for a special issue on Libraries and/as Extraction, a theme which intersects with digital humanities librarianship in multifaceted ways. From the call:

The concept of extraction (or extractivism) has been used in myriad disciplines — geography, international relations, environment, economics — often to describe social formations around natural resource management. However, we can also think about how extraction functions in academic libraries—with libraries being extracted from, or libraries doing the extracting—in how we see, for example, the growth of library consulting firms or how libraries collect materials produced by marginalized groups. Engaging with these ideas is not new; librarians have been researching extraction through other lenses, such as racial capitalism, neoliberalism, surveillance, and issues surrounding academic librarian labour. This special issue of the Canadian Journal of Academic Librarianship seeks to hone in on the concept of extraction or extractivism as a logic and operating principle of current forms of capitalism within academic librarianship.

In their introduction to a special issue of Cultural Studies focusing on extractivism, Laura Junka-Aikio and Catalina Cortes-Severino describe the ways in which the concept is also central to understanding current capitalism, noting the broadening of this ideological construct that proliferates as “severe exploitation” as a “characteristic of contemporary capitalism and neoliberalism at large.” They continue to emphasize that this means extraction is not tied to a particular industry or activity, but rather, “understood also as an analytical and also political concept that enables the examination and articulation of deeper underlying logics of exploitation and subjectification that are central to the present conjuncture of capitalist globalization and neoliberalism” (2017, p. 177).

Extraction relies on overlapping and multiple axes of domination and exploitation and the fragmentation of groups, but always centers power, and it is those questions of power that this special issue of CJAL seeks to explore. We invite articles and essays that interrogate any aspect of extraction in academic libraries and archives related to library policies and practices, library and educator labour, LIS theory and other theoretical traditions, LIS education, and more.

Examples of topic areas on extraction in academic libraries include but are not limited to:

  • Extraction from libraries and library staff
    • The role of consultants in libraries, e.g. around DEIA, strategic planning, and other areas
    • The role of vendors, e.g. vendors that sell tutorials to libraries
    • Educational technology
    • Library value, material, and immaterial
    • Library instruction
    • Overreliance on metrics and quantification
    • Libraries as institutions & library staff as individuals participating in extraction
    • Libraries and archives as collectors – e.g. the tension between stewardship of Indigenous artifacts and repatriation in Canada and U.S, or, the University of Michigan has a vast Filipino collection due to U.S. colonialism in the Philippines, but also actively collects related material
    • Library labour, e.g. campus communities extract library labour, library extracts student labour and data
    • Data, e.g. patron, collection, and so on
    • The use of library collections for large language models/AI
    • Outsourcing, e.g. cataloguing, preservation, and other labour
    • Closed and proprietary platforms
    • Environment and energy, e.g. the move to cloud computing with its associated costs
    • Transactional relationships with faculty, staff, students, and other communities
  • Library organizations extracting from members
    • Volunteer labour in professional organizations, e.g. OLA, CAPAL, CFLA, ALA, ACRL, and others
    • The role of library-adjacent organizations, often nonprofits such as CARL, ARL, CNI, OCLC, Lyrasis, Ithaka, and others
    • Library consortia

Authors interested in submitting a proposal are asked to submit their work (maximum 800 words plus bibliography) as an email attachment (Word document or PDF) to

Deadline for proposal submission: December 18, 2023

dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between Kelly Hammond, Tugba Korhan, Divya Mathur, Mimosa Shah, Michelle Speed, Ashlyn Stewart, April Urban, Erica Leslie Weidner, Chelsea Wells, and Vera Zoricic (Editors-at-large for the week), Nickoal Eichmann-Kalwara and Pamella Lach (Editors for the week), Claudia Berger, Linsey Ford, Hillary Richardson, John Russell, and Rachel Starry (dh+lib Review Editors).