Libraries and Archives in the Anthropocene: A Colloquium
May 13-14, 2017
New York University
By Casey Davis
As stewards of a culture’s collective knowledge, libraries and archives are facing the realities of cataclysmic environmental change with a dawning awareness of its unique implications for their missions and activities. Some professionals in these fields are focusing new energies on the need for environmentally sustainable practices in their institutions. Some are prioritizing the role of libraries and archives in supporting climate change communication and influencing government policy and public awareness. Others foresee an inevitable unraveling of systems and ponder the role of libraries and archives in a world much different from the one we take for granted. Climate disruption, peak oil, toxic waste, deforestation, soil salinity and agricultural crisis, depletion of groundwater and other natural resources, loss of biodiversity, mass migration, sea level rise, and extreme weather events are all problems that indirectly threaten to overwhelm civilization’s knowledge infrastructures, and present information institutions with unprecedented challenges.
This colloquium will serve as a space to explore these challenges and establish directions for future efforts and investigations. We invite proposals from academics, librarians, archivists, activists, and others.
Some suggested topics and questions:
- How can information institutions operate more sustainably?
- How can information institutions better serve the needs of policy discussions and public awareness in the area of climate change and other threats to the environment?
- How can information institutions support skillsets and technologies that are relevant following systemic unraveling?
- What will information work look like without the infrastructures we take for granted?
- How does information literacy instruction intersect with ecoliteracy?
- How can information professionals support radical environmental activism?
- What are the implications of climate change for disaster preparedness?
- What role do information workers have in addressing issues of environmental justice?
- What are the implications of climate change for preservation practices?
- Should we question the wisdom of preserving access to the technological cultural legacy that has led to the crisis?
- Is there a new responsibility to document, as a mode of bearing witness, the historical event of society’s confrontation with the systemic threat of climate change, peak oil, and other environmental problems?
- Given the ideological foundations of libraries and archives in Enlightenment thought, and given that Enlightenment civilization may be leading to its own environmental endpoint, are these ideological foundations called into question? And with what consequences?
Lightning talk (5 minutes)
Paper (20 minutes)
Proposals are due August 1, 2016.
Notifications of acceptance will be sent by September 16, 2016.
Submit your proposal here: http://goo.gl/forms/rz7uN1mBNM
- Planning committee:
- Casey Davis is Project Manager at the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at WGBH and co-founder of ProjectARCC: Archivists Responding to Climate Change.
- Madeleine Charney is Sustainability Studies Librarian at UMass Amherst and co-founder of the Sustainability Round Table of the American Library Association.
- Rory Litwin is a former librarian and the founder of Litwin Books, LLC (Colloquium sponsor)