CALL FOR PAPERS – Play On! 2020 Research Colloquium at McGill Library, Montreal QC


Published: 31May2019

What Happens When Libraries Play? Place aux jeux: quand les bibliothèques s’en mêlent ! McGill Library, Montreal Québec

"When we play, we explore the limits of the possible" –Thomas Hendricks.

The changing needs and services of 21st-century libraries, users, and education demand that we consider new ways of sparking interaction, research, learning, and creativity. Like countless other knowledge and memory institutions, the McGill Library is currently re-imagining library spaces and services and re-envisioning programming that accommodates evolving educational needs. Now is the time to uncover new ideas surrounding user engagement and playful, open design. Now is the time to play, to “explore the limits of the possible.”

The McGill Library calls on creative thinkers from all fields to share new ideas on the following themes:

  • Learning
  • Research
  • Technology
  • Innovation
  • Health and Wellness
  • Sustainability
  • Community

    Where can elements of fun enter into the research experience and an academic research library’s offerings? How can games change the way users engage with their library’s virtual and physical spaces? How can playful inquiry impact learning, encourage innovation, build community, and benefit students, scholars, and staff members? What role should library spaces play in enhancing learning environments for taking risks and tackling complex problems?

    McGill University Library invites papers and workshop proposals on the topic of play, games, and creative engagement in education and libraries. Presentations should encourage engagement and discussion. Interactive and alternative projects are encouraged. The colloquium will take place on 15 May 2020, and a series of events and workshops on the seven themes above will be held throughout 2020.

    The colloquium* will investigate the seven themes listed above as they relate to aspects of “play” and act as a platform for scholars and creative thinkers to :

    • share how elements of play can inform the research experience,
    • uncover how an academic research library can contribute to academic pursuits that incorporate creative, interactive engagement,
    • and explore practical applications of play as they relate to programming and space needs in the library environment.

    *See values statement document (attached pdf, top right corner on this webpage) for background information.

    Possible topics include:

    • Play and creativity in the library
    • Serious Play
    • Gamification in higher education
    • User/player-centered design in libraries and beyond
    • HCI – human-computer interaction
    • Sports and social games in higher education
    • Play and health and wellness
    • History of play in the library
    • Learning through wordplay, riddles, jokes
    • Social and cultural uses of/for Play
    • Immersiveness and engagement
    • Playful architecture and design
    • Collecting objects of play
    • Game-based learning and the library
    • Games as primary sources

    The proposal review process will begin on 1 August 2019.

    Please send abstracts (no longer than 300 words) along with a short biography/ludography (Maximum 50 words) to roaar.library [at]

    Notifications of acceptance/rejection will be sent by the end of August. In special cases depending on available funding, we will be able to cover costs for travel and accommodation costs.

    McGill University Library

    At the heart of the downtown campus in Montreal Quebec, the McGill Library is a hub for research, discovery, and engagement. The rare and special collections units at McGill Library (ROAAr) house over 250 000 items unique in the world, making this a destination for historians, cultural scholars, and the playfully curious. This cultural heritage belongs to the community, and we invite all to come, explore, and share ideas about animating library collections for a 21st-century audience.


    CALL FOR ARTWORK - Play in the Stacks

    ROAAr invites artists of all ages to submit proposals for projects that play with the material in our diverse rare and special collections. By play here we mean re-mix, re-model, film, sketch, animate, sculpt, compose – there is material in our collections to inspire all mediums.

    Selected artists will have the chance to draw inspiration from McGill’s rare books, prints, paintings, journals, archival, and manuscript materials as inspiration during a two-week residency in May 2020. Selected artists’ work will be featured in a special exhibition in the Rare Books Reading room that will run July through September 2020. The works created will belong solely to the artist, but will be displayed in the reading room cases, hung on the walls, or displayed digitally on a multimedia touchtable throughout the exhibition.


    Deadline for proposal submissions: August 1, 2019
    Please send artist statements (no longer than 300 words), along with a short biography (Maximum 50 words) to roaar.library [at]

    Notifications of acceptance/rejection will be sent by the end of August. We are hopeful that, pending the results of a successful grant application, we will be able to cover costs for travel and accommodation.

    Contact Information

    Jacquelyn Sundberg
    McGill Library
    roaar.library [at]
    Office Phone: 
    Mobile Phone: 
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