by Monika Lehman, RBMS20 Participant-Driven Sessions Subcommittee

Participant-driven sessions are sessions in which the audience is able to participate and shape the discussion in 90 minutes. Some of the conversations are accompanied by hands-on activities.

This year’s sessions are all connected to the conference theme and focus on a variety of topics.


The day begins with a session on diversifying book history instruction in Special Collections  This participatory session is a group discussion that draws inspiration from the Diversify Your Book History Syllabus Resource List, which highlights work about the history of the book that centers (and/or is authored by) people whose work has been overlooked or marginalized in the field of rare book librarianship.Session facilitators anticipate circulating a pre-conference survey to identify discussion topics and areas of interest — please keep an eye out for that in a future blog post.

This session is followed by diversifying Special Collections narratives, which aims to discuss the ways institutions are working to replace existing power structures with inclusivity that represents the dynamic communities that libraries often serve but are often left out of library narratives.


Start the morning with a session on using cookbooks as an instructional resource to teach students about issues surrounding power and social roles, followed by a session on amplifying student voices in university archives where participants will explore ways to de-center the archivist and empower students to have control over the preservation of their histories. The afternoon will have two sessions: building a renovation support group and power dynamics in the reading room. The building renovation session will discuss how large scale library renovation projects reveal power structures and will explore how library staff can navigate those structures. The Power Dynamics in the Reading Room session will discuss the balance between allowing access to collection materials and ensuring the preservation of those materials.

The Participant-driven Subcommittee is excited to have played a role in bringing this group of conversations to RBMS20.

Leah Richardson, Chair
Rebecca Baumann
Beth Kilmarx
Monika Lehman
Amy Tims