Call for book chapter proposals: Libraries as dysfunctional organizations and workplaces

** Please share this call among your professional networks, social media, and listservs. **

This is a call for chapter proposals for a forthcoming book with planned publication by Routledge tentatively titled “Libraries as Dysfunctional Organizations and Workplaces: Problems and Solutions.”

The terms “dysfunctional library” and “library dysfunction” are not yet widely used, yet emerging anecdotal evidence and survey/interview research suggests that libraries today, especially academic and public libraries, face an overwhelming problem of internal dysfunction. That is, libraries do well at attending to and managing external information (e.g., helping library users), but they fail at taking care of themselves internally. The generalization of library dysfunction is needed, conceptually and analytically, to open and advance dialogue among librarians and other LIS professionals, managerial and non-managerial, as well as LIS students and professors, about the problem of dysfunction.

This new book aims to expand the “dysfunctional” concept in the professional and academic LIS discourse by proposing that dysfunction in libraries is evident at two levels: first, the library as a large-scale conceptual institution, and, second, at individual libraries, systems, and consortia in practice. The aim of the book is to set forth on a deliberate course in exploring and explaining the problem of dysfunctional libraries so that the LIS profession and those working in it can come to terms with this dysfunction and begin solution-oriented and change-positive progress toward new and sustainable functionality.

The book editor is seeking chapter proposals that will advance discourse on library dysfunction via:

  • Specific topics facing libraries today (see some examples below)
  • Specific theories informed by sociology, psychology, organizational studies, and critical theory/thought that help explain the concept of dysfunction in libraries
  • Specific projects and analyses that indicate evidence of library dysfunction
  • Specific solutions that have been used to address, reduce, or ameliorate dysfunction in libraries

Examples of topics related to library dysfunction might include, but are not limited to:

  • Poor recruitment practices, retention, turnover, and succession planning
  • Lack of opportunities for mentoring, onboarding, and socialization/integration
  • Racism, sexism, discrimination, micro/macro-aggressions, stereotyping, and generational gap
  • Workplace incivility, mistreatment, conflict, and lack of collegiality
  • Feelings of burnout, overload, and failure
  • Fear of negative evaluation
  • Bullying, mobbing, and sexual harassment (by co-workers, supervisors, conference attendees, etc.)
  • Toxic leadership, poor management, and inaction of leaders to address problems
  • Poor communication
  • De-professionalization and contingent and precarious employment (e.g., part-time, short-term, pool-based librarian positions)
  • Low morale, low job satisfaction, and disengagement
  • Emotional labor
  • Negligence of LIS schools to fully prepare their graduates to work in libraries
  • Lack of interest and dedication among LIS schools and LIS organizations to address library dysfunction
  • Turning to social media (e.g., Twitter, blogs, etc.) to voice complaints and draw attention to unsatisfactory work environments and workplace experiences

…and more.

** Extended deadline!** To submit a proposal for consideration, email the following to the editor, Spencer Acadia (

  1. A working title of your proposed chapter
  2. Your name and email address, along with those of any co-authors
  3. An abstract of 200-300 words describing your proposed chapter
  4. List of keywords pertinent to your proposed chapter
  5. Your bio, along with those of any co-authors

Authors of accepted proposals will be asked to write a high-quality book chapter in English, intended for professional and academic audiences, of between 20-30 double spaced pages of text (or roughly 5,000-7,500 words), including references but excluding any tables/figures/appendices. This length will translate to about 10-15 pages of single-spaced text when published in the final book format. Citation style is APA 7th edition. All text files must be compatible with MS Office Word (.doc or .docx preferred).

Best regards, and thank you for your consideration,

Spencer Acadia, editor

Editor's bio:

Spencer Acadia holds a PhD in sociology, as well as an MA in psychology and a master’s degree in library and information science (LIS). Spencer has worked in academic libraries for over ten years with a focus on knowledge management, research data management, social sciences and humanities scholarship, and information behaviour and literacy, and has recently accepted a faculty position in the research methods and information science department at the University of Denver. Spencer is author and editor of the books Libraries That Learn: Keys to Managing Organizational Knowledge (American Library Association, 2019, with Jennifer A. Bartlett) and Library and Information Studies for Arctic Social Sciences and Humanities (Routledge, in press, with Marthe Tolnes Fjellestad). In addition, Spencer has published articles and book chapters with the British Sociological Association, Elsevier, International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), SAGE, and Taylor & Francis. Spencer’s most recent peer-reviewed article is: The Organizational Trap-Gap Framework: A Conceptual View of Library Dysfunction (SAGE, 2019, doi: 10.1177/0340035219870199). Spencer’s ongoing research interests include dysfunction in libraries; digital sociology in LIS; and LIS in, for, and about Arctic social sciences and humanities, and is an active member in IFLA. Spencer's professional website is at: