Call for Papers: Public Libraries and Resilient Cities: Creating Sustainable and Equitable Places

Call for Papers: Public Libraries and Resilient Cities: Creating Sustainable and Equitable Places

Michael Dudley

Public libraries are at the forefront of a number of significant and
pressing urban and environmental sustainability issues, and are evolving a leadership role in addressing these through sustainable urban design practices, contributions to economic regeneration and a commitment to social equity. From the economic renewal potential of library development projects, to the provision of public space in a privatizing world, to services for the homeless and crisis management during urban disasters, public libraries are a keystone public institution for any sustainable community. While there is a long tradition in the library literature arguing for the public library's role in addressing urban social problems, the gravity of our contemporary social, environmental and economic crises constitutes a renewed and urgent imperative for such an engagement.

The book Public Libraries and Resilient Cities will explore the vital role that public libraries can play in the promotion of ecologically, economically and socially sustainable communities in challenging times. It will introduce librarians and library administrators to key urban planning concepts as well as current thinking on sustainability issues, and share success stories in urban resilience from library practitioners.

Ultimately, the book will outline how public libraries can contribute to "placemaking,' or the creation and nurturing of vital and unique communities that can provide intergenerational equity for their residents.

This project will be an ALA Editions release with expected publicationin late 2011 or early 2012.

Paper themes/topics will include:

The Public Library and Socially Sustainable Communities
How public libraries have been dealing with unfolding social equity issues in economically trying times, and within the context of an increasingly diverse urban society e.g., homelessness, multicultural constituencies, ensuring free speech, serving the needs of inner city users, newcomers, urban Indigenous peoples, etc.

The Public Library and Ecologically Sustainable Communities
How the design, location, infrastructure, programming, collection,
administration and procurement decisions made by public libraries can promote environmental sustainability, both internally and within the community.

The Public Library and Economically Sustainable Communities
The potential for public libraries to contribute to economic
development, neighborhood revitalization and local economic resilience will be explored in this chapter. This will include consideration of both downtown library building development projects and ongoing community-based activities in neighborhood branches.

The Public Library and Crisis
Extreme weather, energy depletion, and economic meltdowns are
transforming -- or are threatening to transform -- our urban society. How have public libraries begun preparing? How should they respond in the future? What constraints will libraries face and how might these be overcome?

The Public Library and Placemaking
How can public libraries contribute to urban regeneration and the
making of genuine, sustainable urban "places"? What are the current public engagement practices in library planning? How can public librarians contribute to addressing urban quality of life and environmental issues? How can librarians and city planners collaborate on addressing these issues?

I am seeking submissions between 1,500 – 2,500 words from librarians, library administrators, public administrators or city planners highlighting recent experiences / best practices / partnerships related to these issues in the public library context. Essays should be aimed at practitioners and emphasize practical considerations and solutions, rather than theoretical explorations. Please submit a statement of interest or abstract by May 31st, 2010.

Final paper submission deadline: January 7th, 2011.

Please contact me at [email protected]

About the Editor
Michael Dudley is a Research Associate and Library Coordinator at the Institute of Urban Studies (IUS) at the University of Winnipeg. He hasgraduate degrees in both Library and Information Studies and City Planning and teaches urban sustainability courses at the University of Winnipeg and is an adjunct professor with the City Planning Department at the University of Manitoba. Michael serves on the editorial boards of both Plan Canada and Progressive Planning magazines and is the book review editor for the Canadian Journal of Urban Research. He is a regular book reviewer for The Winnipeg Free Press and contributes editorials for the urban planning website Planetizen ( and the IUS "CityStates" weblog (

Posted March 11, 2010

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