About Shelf Portraits

Inside the Libraries of Canadian Authors

Shelf Portraits: Inside the Libraries of Authors in Canada is a digital collection of reflections, essays and creative works in which writers in Canada express what their own personal libraries have meant to them. Assembling a diverse range of contributions and images this digital collection gives readers an opportunity to see inside the personal libraries of both established and emerging authors in this country. It reveals how writers have acquired, collected, moved, physically arranged and used the books with which they have surrounded themselves as an environment to support their creative processes. Conceived to include contributions of writers from the 1930s and every decade since, this collection also provides a collaboratively assembled creative narrative that shows the changing meaning of personal libraries across generations. It shows us how the scenes and communities that have developed around the global production and exchange of books have changed as the market for literature in Canada has evolved. One thing that is clear from the diverse range of contributions to this collection is that the author’s personal library has remained a crucial source of comfort, thought, feeling, procrastination and creative inspiration for the writers whose works fill our own shelves.

Contribute to this Project

Are you a published author residing in Canada? Do you have a library (big or small) that is important to you and that you can write about and photograph? If so, please consider contributing to the Shelf-Portraits digital collection.

Shelf-Portraits will consider publishing works of any length by authors who have published at least one book in Canada on topics they wish to pursue as a form of reflection about the significance of their personal libraries: for instance, collecting habits, organizing / packing / unpacking the library, the relationship between personal libraries and artistic production, or the library as a material form of “autobiography.” Contributions may take any form: poetry, essays, “slice-of-life” sketches, et cetera. In addition to textual contributions, we request that a contributor provide at least three digital images of their library to accompany the published text, so that readers can see these libraries from the perspectives of their creators and owners.

If you are interested in contributing, please send an email query, including brief proposal and biographical statements (100 words each) to the editorial team at: richlerlibraryproject@gmail.com

Editorial Team

  • Editor in Chief: Jason Camlot, Professor and University Research Chair in Literature and Sound Studies Concordia University.
  • Editor: Jeffrey Aaron Weingarten, Professor, Fanshawe College
  • Editorial Assistant: Alexandra Sweny, MA student in English, Concordia University
  • Web Developer: Max Stein
  • Web Designer: Manami Izawa