Collections, care, and the collective: Experiments in collaborative fieldwork in area studies librarianship

Ellen A. Ambrosone, Laura A. Ring, Mara L. Thacker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While scholarship in library science continues to expand understanding of collaboration and its potential to transform the collective collection, librarian acquisitions trips have been largely absent from the conversation. In early 2020, three US-based South Asian studies librarians traveled together to India, jettisoning solo travel in favor of a model of collaborative fieldwork. Using this trip as a case study, the authors draw on interdisciplinary literature to explore how intersecting identities and the embodied nature of fieldwork shape outcomes for the collective collection. They reflect on how foregrounding care in the field can converge with efforts to build more ethical collections. Finally, the authors consider the possibilities of a shift toward collaboration beyond mere coordination, and offer suggestions for how a relational perspective might be advocated for in their work. At the intersection of theory and practice, this article helps readers understand the holistic work behind area studies librarianship, and offers a vision of improved practice in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalIFLA Journal
Issue number1
StateE-pub ahead of print - Jul 3 2022


  • Academic libraries
  • Asia
  • South Asia
  • area studies
  • collection development
  • critical perspectives
  • culture
  • fieldwork
  • library and information science
  • society

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Collections, care, and the collective: Experiments in collaborative fieldwork in area studies librarianship'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this