#critcat read along of Sorting Things Out

Interested in the ethical dimension of classification? Here’s your chance to read one of the foundational texts!

Join the #critcat Slack group for a read along of Bowker & Star’s Sorting Things Out (1999). We’ll be reading the Introduction and Part I (pages 1-161) and have an asynchronous discussion on Slack during the week of October 17-23.  If you’re short on time, just read chapter 4 (pages 135-161) on “Classification, Coding, and Coordination” and join right in.

There will also be a synchronous Twitter chat held with the new Digitial Humanities #infraclub group to discuss Sorting Things Out. The Twitter chat is scheduled for Monday 31 October, 5pm GMT/1pm US Eastern/10am US Pacific.

Sorting Things Out delves into topics such as classifying disease and racial groups—it’s truly a standard in understanding how classification affects our society. Please spread the word and join us in discussing this important work!

cover of Sorting Things Out by Bowker & Star

inclusion at public service points

From Kittens and cats : a book of tales / Eulalie Osgood Grover (1911)
From Kittens and cats : a book of tales / Eulalie Osgood Grover (1911)

60th chat, Monday October 17 2016: diversity/inclusion/anti-oppression at public service points
11am Pacific / noon Mountain / 1pm Central / 2pm Eastern

Moderated by @gnomadlibrarian
Storify by @violetbfox

Suggested readings:

Discussion questions:

  • Q1. What does diversity and inclusion mean to you and/or your library? #critlib
  • Q2. What does an anti-oppressive service model look like? #critlib
  • Q3. Beyond hiring diverse desk staff, what other steps can we take to create an empowered and inclusive service point? #critlib
  • Q4. How can we incorporate diversity/inclusion/anti-oppression training into general service point training–especially for student employees? #critlib

For further exploration:

history of critical librarianship

two cats, one sitting and looking at camera, while a white cat stands in a vase
From Our domestic animals, their habits, intelligence and usefulness / by Gos de Voogt (1907)

59th chat, Tuesday October 11 2016: history of critical librarianship

Moderated by @ClaireB_LIS @violetbfox
Storify by @KristynMC83

Note: critlib follows in the footsteps of many critical, radical, progressive groups, while adding a unique voice. We’re using “critical librarianship” below as a shorthand to refer to all library workers who seek to promote social justice and question the commodification of libraries and the value of “neutrality”.

Suggested readings:

  • Morrone,  M., & Friedman, L. (2009). Radical reference : socially responsible librarianship collaborating with community. The Reference Librarian, 50(4). (pdf)
  • Harger, E. (2016). Which Side Are You On? : Seven Social Responsibility Debates in American Librarianship, 1990–2015. (link to WorldCat; especially the Introduction and chapter 1)

Discussion questions:

  • Q1. What are similarities or differences in current approaches to bringing social justice into libraries vs. previous efforts? #critlib
  • Q2. How is the work of previous critical librarians evident in library practices today? Is it more evident in some areas of practice? #critlib
  • Q3. What do the critical theory-focused elements of #critlib bring to the critical librarian conversation? How do they detract?
  • Q4. What do we lose if we aren’t aware of our critical librarianship history? #critlib

For further exploration:

  • Pettigrew, K., Fidel, R., & Bruce, H. (2001). Conceptual frameworks in information behaviour. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 35, 43–78.
  • Pettigrew, K., & McKechnie, L. (2001). The use of theory in information science research. Journal of the Association of Information Science and Technology, 52(1), 62–73.
  • Kagan, A. (2015). Progressive Library Organizations: A Worldwide History. (link to WorldCat)
  • Samek, T. (2001). Intellectual Freedom and Social Responsibility in American Librarianship, 1967-1974 (link to WorldCat).

You can find more great resources suggested by @LibJuice Press.



From The Bluestocking / Mary Baldwin Seminary (1910)

66th chat, Tuesday September 13th 2016: #LIUlockout

Moderated by @ibeilin
Storify by @feministlib

This chat will be more open-ended than the standard chat, with the following questions being just the start of the conversation. Feel free to suggest questions using the #critlib hashtag!

Readings and background reference material (document created by @fiiidget):

Discussion questions:

  • Q1. The #LIUlockout has been horrifying to witness & much worse to go through; what have been your reactions as a librarian/fac. member/student? #critlib
  • Q2. Are there any groups/individuals who you’d like to see show more support for students & faculty affected by the #LIUlockout? #critlib
  • Q3. What can we do now to end the #LIUlockout, and to prevent it from happening again? #critlib

public/academic collaboration

From Kittens and cats : a first reader / by Eulalie Osgood Grover (1911)
From Kittens and cats : a first reader / by Eulalie Osgood Grover (1911)

65th chat, Tuesday September 6th 2016: collaborations between academic & public libraries
6pm Pacific / 7pm Mountain / 8pm Central / 9pm Eastern

Moderated by @AprilHathcock

Find more information about this chat at April’s blog: Public-Academic Library Collabs

Discussion questions:

  • Q1. How can academic libraries support public libraries with research?
  • Q2. How can academic libraries be more aware of and help out with public library advocacy?
  • Q3. How can big research university libraries share with community colleges as well as public libraries?

LIS Journal Club

LIS Journal Club, a new LIS research article reading group, is hosting a critlib-themed discussion! Their September article is “On Dark Continents and Digital Divides: Information Inequality and the Reproduction of Racial Otherness in Library and Information Studies” by Dave Hudson. Discussion includes asynchronous commenting via a web annotation tool (Hypothes.is) as well as a live Twitter chat on Thursday September 22. Find more information at lisjournalclub.tumblr.com and follow along on Twitter with #LISjc!

Wikipedia & #critlib

striped angora cat on a pedestal with caption "Tiger and white male, weight 16 lbs."
From The Angora cat : how to breed, train and keep it / edited by Robert Kent James (1898)

64th chat, Tuesday August 23rd 2016: Wikipedia & #critlib

Moderated by @oksveta @fiiidget @nora_almeida
Storify by @poorcharlotte

Suggested readings:

Discussion questions:

  • Q1. What is your stance towards/relationship with Wikipedia (WP) & what experiences have brought you to that stance? #critlib
  • Q2. In what ways could Wikipedia be a potential resource or site for enacting #critlib?
  • Q3. In what ways are the pillars (i.e. Neutral Point of View) and/or organizational structures of WP in tension with #critlib? http://bit.ly/2b3HO7d [link to Wikipedia page for the 5 pillars]
  • Q4. Do librarians have a responsibility to address pitfalls of WP like gender/race/identity gaps? #critlib
  • Q5. What accounts for historic maligning of WP by libs and what does this tell us about our own stance towards information? #critlib

For further exploration:

ethics of digitization

line drawing of a fluffy Persian cat
From Alumnae Recorder / Pennsylvania Female College Alumnae Association (1888)

63rd chat, Monday August 8th 2016: ethics of digitization

Moderated by @tararobertson and @zinelib
Storify by @tararobertson

Suggested readings:

Discussion questions:

  • Q1 What are pros & cons of make digitization decisions informed by personal & community ethics, in addition to/instead of The Law? #critlib
  • Q2 When making digitization decisions, how do we balance the needs of (living) subjects & (future) scholars, now vs. 100s from now? #critlib
  • Q3 What are some #critlib models of providing community/research access to a collection, vs. protecting privacy?
  • Q4 How should #critlib digitization decisions differ with regard to  race, gender, sexuality, disability, etc. vs. those of default identities?
  • Q5 How should #critlib digitization decisions differ with regard to porn vs. other content like newspapers, books, or historical photos?

“offensive” items in the collection

startled looking kitten on a cat-sized wooden chair
From Kittens and cats : a first reader / by Eulalie Osgood Grover (1911)

62nd chat, Tuesday July 26th 2016: “offensive” items in the collection
6pm Pacific / 7pm Mountain / 8pm Central / 9pm Eastern

Moderated by @zoh_zoh
Storify by @violetbfox

Suggested readings:

Discussion questions:

  • Q1. What kinds of materials in your library have offended your users?
  • Q2. What kinds of materials in your library have you & your staff found offensive?
  • Q3. Is it censorship to relocate/reclassify items?
  • Q4. How do you empower your users to be directly involved in collection development and maintenance?