Equitable Information Access and Librarianship Praxis: Let’s Get Critical

Today’s Read:
Lauren Smith & Michael Hanson
Communities of Praxis: Transforming Access to Information for Equity
The Serials Librarian, v. 76, nos. 1-4, pp. 42-49
DOI: 10.1080/0361526X.2019.1593015

I recently submitted a proposal to write a chapter on Critical Legal Studies for a new library science textbook, and it was accepted.

In the proposal, I used the Critical Legal Studies research guide I created for our library to create a framework for the future book chapter. Basically, I want to get the content of this guide into some kind of written form, since library research guides have a bit of an ephemeral quality.

While the chapter will be primarily about critical studies in law, it will also include some basic information about critical librarianship. I want to encourage future law librarians consider issues of disproportionate representation and information access in their own professional practice. Or, put another way, I hope that they will choose to incorporate praxis into their practice of librarianship.

For this reason, this recent article from The Serials Librarian caught my eye, and I decided to blog about it. The article is based on a presentation given by Lauren Smith at the 2018 NASIG (formerly the North American Serials Interest Group) conference. In her talk, Smith discussed three themes that are necessary to “democratize” information, which means making sure that all people are empowered to exercise their right to access it: power, praxis, and privilege.

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Librarians and Cultural Humility: Check Your Privileges and Recognize Your Biases

Citation:
Twanna Hodge, Integrating Cultural Humility into Public Services Librarianship, INTERNATIONAL INFORMATION & LIBRARY REVIEW, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572317.2019.1629070.

This article was written by the first-ever Diversity Resident Librarian at the University of Utah library. In it, the author challenges public services librarians to explore and address their implicit biases, and to incorporate cultural humility in their librarianship practice.

Of course, this type of exercise in self-auditing and vulnerability can be difficult and uncomfortable for people who engage in it. As the author points out, some of our most pervasive biases develop on a subconscious level from the time we are very young, as we process messages and opinions about the world, other people, and other cultures that we get from our families, our friends, and others. These types of biases, which include “both favorable and unfavorable assessments” are, as the author notes, “pervasive.” However, this does not mean that they have to be permanent.

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