Journal of Information Literacy Special Issue on Critical Information Literacy, June 2023: Call for papers, contributions and publication mentors

This post was originally an email sent to the lis-infoliteracy Jiscmail list from the Editors, Lauren Smith and Alison Hicks.

Critical information literacy, with its emphasis on social justice in the instructional and educational work of librarians, have been part of the scholarly literature for over twenty years (Tewell 2018). Since then, the online information landscape has become even more complex in the context of scholarly communications, misinformation and disinformation, and deeper understandings of social responsibility in terms of equality and diversity, race, gender, sexuality and disability. In addition, the roles of librarians and other educators working in information literacy spaces continue to develop against a backdrop of global environmental, health and economic crises as well as local changes to institutional structures and expectations. Responding to the challenges, practical texts such as Critical Library Pedagogy in Practice (Brookbank and Haigh, 2021) have made valuable contributions to the field of critical information literacy, detailing how critical approaches can be applied both to traditional information literacy teaching and to contexts outwith ‘traditional’ spaces for information literacy instruction, such as collection development, cataloguing, reference work, user research, LMS integration and web archiving.

The aim of this special issue of Journal Information Literacy is twofold: to expand on the rich knowledge sharing occurring in critical information literacy practice; and to highlight explorations of this work from a research perspective. What is the nature of the ways the body of theoretical and research literature on critical information literacy is (and is not) reflected in practice?  How are social changes influencing discourse in librarianship, and in turn, the boundaries between theory, research and practice related to critical information literacy?

Indicative list of anticipated themes 

Specifically (but not exclusively) we invite contributions exploring:

  • Intersections of critical information literacy and critical approaches in other aspects of education and library and information practice, including critical data literacy, critical health literacy, critical digital literacy, and scholarly communications
  • How theory, research, and practice within the maturing field of critical information literacy are mutually informing each other in response to social change
  • Implications of changing pedagogical and pastoral influences in libraries, including discourses around disability, mental health, self-care, mindfulness, and trauma
  • Institutional power structures and dynamics and how these influence advances in critical information literacy
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on information literacy instruction and how this intersects with issues of social justice
  • Identifying outcomes of critical approaches to information literacy and the interplay between these, the politics of institutions, and an increasing focus on impact measurement and metricsWe are keen to hear from academics and practitioners across the world. We are also particularly interested in contributions from outwith the confines of academic libraries.

    If you would like to discuss whether your proposal meets the scope for this special issue, please contact the Editors, Lauren Smith (lsmith1[at] and Alison Hicks, (a.hicks[at] for an informal chat.  

    Contribution format  

    Proposals are welcomed in a wide range of formats. We will consider traditional manuscripts focusing on theory or research but are also keen to receive practice-based contributions and those taking unconventional forms. These could include zines, photo- or video-essays, research agendas, collaborative discussions, or audio recordings.

    Mentoring scheme  

    Mentees: If you are interested in submitting a contribution to the special edition of JIL but do not feel confident doing this alone, we may be able to pair you with a mentor who can offer guidance throughout the process of creation and submission. If you are interested in being mentored, please submit a written proposal of no more than 400 words to by 28th February 2022 so that we can match you with a mentor in good time.

    Mentors: If you feel you would be a suitable mentor for prospective contributors, please contact Journal of Information Literacy with some information about your areas of interest or expertise. You will be asked to correspond with mentees by email or video/voice call to provide guidance on producing a high-quality piece of work in a potentially non-traditional format. We would ask that you be prepared to offer around four hours of your time on this work.

    Contribution submission details 

    Deadline for contributions: 9th January 2023

    Special issue publication date: June 2023

  • General guidelines: The submission has not been previously published, nor is it before another journal for consideration
  • Submissions: Contributions should be submitted via the JIL website: 
  • Length: Contributions should be between 3,000 and 8,000 words (excluding references), or equivalent (depending on format)
  • References: Referencing should be in APA style
  • Peer Review Process: JIL follows a double-anonymous peer review process, meaning that research articles are read by at least two reviewers who have no knowledge of the author’s identity
  • Open Access Policy: The Journal of Information Literacy is an open access title and authors retain copyright in their articles and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike LicenceReferences 
    Brookbank, E. and Haigh, J. eds. (2021). Critical Library Pedagogy in Practice. Innovative Libraries Press.

    Tewell, E. (2018). The Practice and Promise of Critical Information Literacy: Academic Librarians’ Involvement in Critical Library Instruction. College & Research Libraries, 79(1), 10. doi:

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