Second Call for Proposals due February 21, 2020: Posters and People’s Choice

The Association for College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) presents their 2020 annual conference, to be held June 23 – 26 at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN.

RBMS 2020: Power, Resistance, and Leadership

This conference program seeks to critically examine the existing power structures that have shaped and continue to impact special collections and archives. The conference program will explore the power dynamics within our profession and the ways in which we experience, exert, and/or defy power. We are interested in stories of resistance, large and small, successful or not. We want to provide participants tools and strategies that will inspire and hopefully lead to transformative change.

Proposals that cover a wide range of related themes are encouraged:

  • critical engagement with the profession
  • equity, inclusion, and diversity
  • cultural competencies
  • community partnerships
  • professional and paraprofessional relations
  • power dynamics within the profession and our organizations
  • making invisible labor visible
  • political organizing and advocacy work
  • subversiveness
  • empowerment
  • management and leadership

We invite proposals that discuss power, resistance, and leadership as it relates to the full range of work within our field, including collection development, the book trade, donor relations, cataloging and processing, digitization and metadata, security and preservation, teaching and learning, public services, reference, outreach, and exhibitions.

The RBMS 2020 Conference Program Planning 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 committee chairs Elizabeth Call and Robin M. Katz with questions or ideas.

Session Types


Posters are brief visual presentations in which presenters share their experiences, ideas or research, and they are showcased concurrently with beverage breaks during the conference. Posters share innovative approaches and offer practical solutions to issues facing the special collections profession. Proposals should conform to one of the following content types:

  • scholarly research
  • case studies
  • reports on new initiatives

 Proposals should relate to the conference theme.

People’s Choice

New for the RBMS 2020 conference, sessions in the “People’s Choice” category will be chosen through an online voting process open to all RBMS members and 2020 meeting attendees. All proposals received by the committee will be posted for review by the membership in the form it was submitted. Sessions can take a variety of formats including fully-formed panels, participatory sessions, or lightning rounds.  Proposals should relate to the conference theme.

Conference Core Values

The RBMS 2020 conference is committed to the following core values:

  • To create a supportive and challenging environment that
    • fosters respectful dialogue, reflection, and growth
    • empowers participants to voice their concerns and perspectives
    • encourages participants to learn from mistakes
  • To build consciousness around issues of power and to decenter privilege in all its forms.
  • To minimize the environmental impact of this conference and to reduce our profession’s contributions to the climate crisis.
  • To work toward a fully accessible conference.

All participants are expected to uphold the ALA Statement of Appropriate Conduct.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

In keeping with RBMS’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, we seek proposals and speakers from all types of repositories, positions, and range of experience, including members of the book trade, other cultural heritage professionals, scholars, students, collectors, and community members. We invite and encourage proposals from veteran RBMSers, newer members, and non-members alike.

New this year!

  • In an effort to diversify the speaker roster and to provide more opportunities to a greater number of members and attendees, individuals may only be listed on one session proposal. 
  • All speakers will need to be identified in the proposal. The Conference Program Planning Committee has created a spreadsheet as an informal tool to connect individuals who want to brainstorm ideas and/or find collaborators for session proposals for RBMS 2020. It is monitored committee members, but is not part of the official proposal process. It can be found at
  • Each session will also need to identify someone to serve as a moderator. RBMS will provide mandatory facilitation training for all moderators before the conference; this will be accessed virtually.

RBMS will make every effort to accommodate equipment requests, within reason. We look forward to a conference that represents and includes a wide range of voices and experiences.

Selection and Notification for Posters and People’s Choice

Online voting for People’s Choice sessions will occur between Monday, March 2 – Wednesday, March 11.  All People’s Choice proposals will be posted for review in the form it was submitted.

All proposers will be notified of acceptance on Monday, March 16, 2020. 

Posters and People’s Choice sessions are evaluated, selected, and coordinated by members of the RBMS 2020 Conference Program Planning Committee.

Submit a Proposal

Brief session proposals for Posters and People’s Choice sessions can be submitted using this online form. Deadline: Friday, February 21