Social Justice and Activism in Libraries

Essays on Diversity and Change


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About the Book

In a rapidly changing world with myriad conflicting voices, the library’s role as a place of safety and inclusion and as a repository of knowledge cannot be overstated. Librarians must serve as community leaders with a mission to educate and inform, ready to model the principles they support. The question for many is: how? Experienced librarians offer ideas and guidance in seeking new creative paths, working to support change in library organizations and reexamining principles that may be taken for granted. Theoretical foundations are discussed, along with practical ideas such as the creation of book groups for the intellectually disabled and partnership with social workers or advocates for employees with disabilities.

About the Author(s)

Su Epstein is the director at the Saxton B. Little Free Library in Columbia, Connecticut. Her writing has appeared in several publications as well as the blog Public Libraries Online.

A Michigan resident, Carol Smallwood has practiced in school, public and special libraries. Her primary interest is practical librarianship, and she is the author of journal articles and editor of numerous books.

Vera Gubnitskaia has worked as a library manager, consultant, and reference librarian in public and academic libraries in Russia and the United States. During her career as a writer and editor, she contributed chapters to several professional publications, edited multiple anthologies, and published book reviews. She is currently an art fellow at Crealde School in Winter Park, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Su Epstein, Carol Smallwood and Vera Gubnitskaia

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7203-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3510-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword (Wanda Kay Brown) 1
Preface (Su Epstein, Vera Gubnitskaia and Carol Smallwood) 3

Part I—Bringing Underrepresentation to the Forefront
Literacy Support for the Intellectually Disabled: A New Frontier for Library Outreach (Matthew Conner and Leah Plocharczyk) 7
Prison Libraries and Social Justice: Helping Inmates Succeed (Andrew Hart) 15
Buttressed Beliefs, Informed Action: Black Lives Matter, an Academic Library and Building Critical Community Discourse (Ian Boucher) 21
Improving Everyday Lives: Free Administrative Legal Assistance and Critical Trans* Politics in Libraries (Elliott Kuecker) 29

Part II—Establishing Partnerships
Food for Thought: Feeding Mind and Body at Public Libraries (Amber H. Williams, Erica Freudenberger and Cindy Fesemyer) 39
Partnering for Social Justice: Social Work Students’ Placement at Public Libraries (Sarah C. Johnson) 45
Unidos por la Causa: ­Community-Driven Collection Development for Chicanx Archives (Zoe Jarocki and Amanda Lanthorne) 53

Part III—Building Communities
Rethinking the Role of Libraries as Active Social Spaces (Carrie Fishner and Lisa Tessier) 63
Building Community in an Academic Library (Carolyn Frey and Jami Powell ) 69
Critical Librarianship in Action: Supporting ­Campus-Wide Dialogues (Maureen Rust and Aimée C. Quinn) 77

Part IV—Administering with Diversity
Advocacy from Within: Employees with Disabilities (JJ Pionke) 87
Healing Justice: An Approach of Caring for Intersectional LIS Professionals (Melissa ­Villa-Nicholas, Tonyia J. Tidline and Tracy S. Drake) 94
Encouraging Social Justice Professional Development (Laura Francabandera) 102
Reflecting Diversity in the Library of Congress Subject Headings (Elizabeth Hobart) 110

Part V—Supporting Activism
The Archival Is Political: Archival Practice as Political Practice (Anna J. ­Clutterbuck-Cook and Jeremy Brett) 121
Hip Hop and Activism: Bridging Boundaries and Healing Through Hip Hop Pedagogy (Kai Alexis Smith) 129
Bringing Critical Race Theory to the Library Bill of Rights: From the Past to the Future (Celeste ­Bocchicchio-Chaudhri) 137
Collaborative Justice: ­Gender-Based Activism in the University Library (Carrie Moran and Leandra ­Preston-Sidler) 144

Part VI—Generating Programming
Creating Communities Through Living Books: The Human Library Experience at Southern New Hampshire University (Heather ­Walker-White and Joshua Becker) 155
Check(Out) Your Privilege, or: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Putting on a Diversity Event (Damon Campbell, Lydia Harlan and Rachel Lilley) 163
Moving Beyond Just Talk: Diversity Programming at an Academic Library (Martin L. Garnar) 171
Getting Serious in the Public Library with “Current Conversations” (Jamie L. Huber, Whitney R. Gerwitz, Heather M. Wefel and Melanie Foster) 178

Part VII—Expanding Teaching
Teaching Social Justice with Special Collections and Archives: Critical Information Literacy and Primary Source Analysis (Julie M. Porterfield) 189
Research Skills in International Issues and Social Justice Programs: Talking Points and Literature Review (Paul Jerome McLaughlin, Jr.) 196
Advocating for Diversity Through Embedded Librarianship (Faith L. Bradham) 203

About the Contributors 211
Index 217

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Should be used as the framework for a new curriculum in information studies; the most important contribution in a generation.”—Eino Sierpe, the Visual Library of Social Justice
  • “Practical, timely applications of theory to practice in the ongoing struggle for equity and justice.”—Karl Ericson, University of Detroit Mercy
  • “Authentic, real-life examples like these will move us forward as both keepers and providers of inclusive spaces and knowledge.”—Kristen Chinery, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University
  • “The topic of social justice and activism in libraries is both critical and timely, and there’s no more important aspect of this topic than moving beyond diversity to action.”—Aline Soules, Library Faculty, California State University, East Bay
  • Social Justice and Activism in Libraries is an essential handbook for those working to remake libraries into community spaces.”—Mira Tanna, Orange County Library System, Orlando, Florida.

Ebook Availability

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