Now published: Ellen Ambrosone’s article on collaborative fieldwork

Ellen Ambrosone

Ellen Ambrosone in Pune in 2020.

In February 2020, South Asian Studies Librarian Ellen Ambrosone, along with colleagues Laura A. Ring (University of Chicago Library) and Mara L. Thacker (International and Area Studies Library, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) traveled to four cities in India for a librarian acquisition trip. Guided by a goal of visiting book vendors, networking with local colleagues, and visiting cultural institutions and libraries, Ambrosone and the group authored an article on their travels and reflections on the ethics of creating and caring for collections, which was published by IFLA Journal in 2022 and recently printed in the March 2023 issue.

In addition to laying out their preparations, trip plans, and notable interactions, the authors also reframe librarian acquisitions trips as fieldwork. They discuss how intersecting identities and the embodied nature of fieldwork can actually impact possibilities for shaping the collective collection.  

They also use existing literature to contemplate the realities of doing library fieldwork as it relates to the ethical responsibilities of collectors, and ultimately, suggest that adopting a relational perspective that foregrounds care presents an alternative structure that librarians can use to assess and accomplish their professional duties.

They wrote, “Whether we are collecting as individuals or collaboratively, adopting a relational perspective requires us to acknowledge our embeddedness in a web of interdependencies. This is an epistemic shift—not just a change in practice, but also a change in the way we understand our own work and our labors, as always already shaped, underwritten, and enabled by the labor—the co-labor—of others.”

Ambrosone’s article is available now through Sage Journals.

Ambrosone, Ring, and Thacker were invited to participate in a workshop by by Dr. Chandi Prasad Nanda of Ravenshaw University.

Ambrosone, Ring, and Thacker were invited to participate in a workshop hosted by Dr. Chandi Prasad Nanda of Ravenshaw University.

Published on April 12, 2023

Media Contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications