Call for Proposals

RBMS 2019: Response and Responsibility: Special Collections and Climate Change

The archives and special collections library communities – as part of the global community – face prospective major shifts in our energy systems, economic models, and literal landscapes. Current and predicted impacts associated with climate change offer highly varied and unpredictable effects on our collections, collecting, facilities, services, funding, users, communities, and professional lives.

This conference invites attendees and the broader archives and special collections communities to a candid and forward-looking conversation about our work in the era of climate change. We seek proposals for sessions that will connect these issues across our proven professional capacities for committed cultivation of inclusivity, technical excellence, strong collaboration, cultural and historical scholarship, educational expertise, and resource stewardship. We encourage session proposals that explore new prospects of value and alternative lenses of assessment that center on the present and future flourishing of the humanistic efforts we serve.

Priorities for acceptance

While the program committee welcomes all proposals of interest to the RBMS community, with the exception of Seminars, preference will be given to proposals that explore and help expand our profession’s engagement with this year’s program theme. Following are potential topics to consider:

  • The energy consumption of our professional activities (e.g. storage facilities, digital collections, travel)
  • The capacity of our existing collections to illuminate “hidden” histories relevant to climate change
  • The intersection of information literacy and ecoliteracy
  • The possibility of new services or outreach initiatives to support public awareness related to climate change and the environment
  • The role of special collections in communities responding to climate change, including relative to issues of environmental justice
  • The implications of climate change for preservation practices (both analog and digital), collection security, or disaster preparedness
  • The responsibility of special collections libraries to document climate change through collection development and appraisal activities
  • General provocations on the future of special collections and archives in a time of possible climate insecurity

The program committee welcomes the opportunity to help interested parties shape proposals that connect the program’s theme to our core professional activities. Please do not hesitate to contact the program chairs (Ben Goldman,, and Kate Hutchens, with questions or ideas. Proposals involving diverse speakers and experiences will be looked on favorably by the committees.

Description of session types are provided below. Seminars and Workshops proposals are evaluated, selected, and coordinated by members of the RBMS Seminars Committee and the RBMS Workshops Committee, respectively. All other sessions are coordinated and selected by members of the RBMS 2019 Conference Program Planning Committee.

RBMS will make every effort to accommodate equipment requests, within reason.

Deadlines for Submissions and Notifications

Deadline for Poster submissions is Friday, November 2, 2018. Notifications of accepted proposals for seminars and workshops will be sent in October, 2018, and other session types in January, 2019. A subsequent call for Pop-Up sessions will be announced in March, 2019.

How to Submit

Brief session proposals of 300 words or less can be submitted, along with accompanying session and contact information, using this form:

Types of Session Proposals We Seek


We invite poster proposals that share innovative approaches to issues facing the special collections profession, and especially encourage topics related to the theme (see above). Each submission will be evaluated on the strength of its 300-word abstract and relationship to the conference’s theme or effectiveness in addressing a timely issue. We are especially interested in posters clearly stating a problem and offering practical solutions. Posters are showcased during scheduled times throughout the conference.


To provide more flexibility and immediacy to the proceedings, the Program Committee looks forward to soliciting Pop-Up session proposals (similar to the above session types, but expecting less advance planning/formality, echoing those found at the Society of American Archivists annual conference). Additional details will be forthcoming closer to the time of the RBMS 2019 conference.