critical librarianship in a Trump administration

From Dictionnaire-manuel-illustré des sciences usuelles / par E. Bouant (1897)

71st chat, Tuesday November 22: critical librarianship in a Trump administration
6pm Pacific / 7pm Mountain / 8pm Central / 9pm Eastern

Moderated by @bembrarian & @zinelib

This is the first in what may be many chats about life in an information-hostile political regime. The questions are meant to be applied broadly to most facets of libraries and librarianship. Participants are encouraged to apply them to their specific library types or areas of focus, e.g., information literacy or special collections.

Q1 Please introduce yourself to #critlib. What strategies for self-care, if any, have you taken since the election results were announced?

Q2 How can white & other libs of privilege extend care to patrons & staff of color/marginalized identities? In gen’l? In crisis? #critlib

Q3 How do cultures of authoritarianism/bigotry influence a librarian’s roles? How should a librarian confront political dissonance? #critlib

Q4 How do you challenge “business as usual” while maintaining the core functions of the library? #critlib

Q5 What tools and resources already exist to support a librarian’s and library’s resistance to regimes of hate? #critlib

Q6 What are effective next steps for proceeding with librarianship during a Trump administration? How can we support one another? #critlib

To share a tweet semi-anonymously (via Jenna) for security purposes or because you don’t have a Twitter account either

IM (NOT an email address)


email (not an email I normally use, so don’t contact me here other than tonight. I picked it because it’s not the Goog.)

Suggested Readings:

Libraries Respond to Recent Crises

How is your library responding to the election results? from Libraries

We have created an open document to compile reading and resource contributions from everyone. Please check it out, add yours, and help organize it. We’re also happy to have someone take this project on in a more structured way.

MPLP (archival processing)

From Annual report of the Agricultural Experiment Station of Cornell University, no. 29 (1908)

70th chat, Monday November 14: MPLP (archival processing)
11am Pacific / noon Mountain / 1pm Central / 2pm Eastern

Moderated by @aliceprael
Storify by @aliceprael

MPLP stands for More Product, Less Process and is sometimes referred to baseline processing.  The acronym was introduced by Mark A. Greene and Dennis Meissner in the article “More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing”.  MPLP asserts that archives should adhere to the following guidelines* for arrangement, description, and preservation in order to improve productivity and decrease backlogs of unprocessed material.

1) expedite getting collection materials into the hands of users
2) assure arrangement of materials adequate to user needs
3) take the minimal steps necessary to physically preserve collection materials
4) describe materials sufficient to promote use.

*all italics are from the original text

Suggested readings:

Discussion questions:

  • Q1. What has your experience been with MPLP? How do you determine ‘sufficient’ description & ‘adequate’ arrangement for a collection?
  • Q2. How does MPLP affect access to and accessibility of material?
  • Q3. How does MPLP affect privacy issues? – does MPLP lead to increased risk?
  • Q4. How does MPLP affect the work required from other staff (such as access services and digitization staff)?
  • Q5. What do we lose with MPLP? What do we gain? How can we balance MPLP with traditional processing?

academic libraries & the student loan crisis

Blue Persian cat
From Our domestic animals, their habits, intelligence and usefulness / by Gos de Voogt (1907)

69th chat, Tuesday November 1: academic libraries & the student loan crisis

Moderated by @kevinseeber @modbrarian @beccakatherine
Storify by @violetbfox

Suggested readings:

Discussion questions:

  • Q1. How is the student loan crisis affecting you, your library, and/or your campus? #critlib
  • Q2. What programming/resources are libraries providing to address the student loan crisis? What else could we be doing? #critlib
  • Q3. Many factors in higher ed have contributed to the present situation. In what ways, if any, are academic libraries implicated? #critlib
  • Q4. Speaking of loans, what can libraries, librarians, and grad programs do about reducing the cost of an MLIS? #critlib


This is a list of terms the moderators anticipate might come up during the chat, though it is not exhaustive. If someone uses an abbreviation or term you don’t understand, we encourage you to ask that person, or a moderator, for a clarification.

  • DOE: Referring to the U.S. Department of Education, which issues a large number of student loans.
  • Financial Literacy: An understanding of how money works, including concepts connected to borrowing, including interest rates and repayment plans.
  • FA or FinAid: Referring to Financial Aid, both the general concept of providing money to students attending college, as well as offices of Financial Aid on college campuses.
  • OER: Shorthand for “open educational resources.” These are often no-cost-to-the-student online materials designed to supplement or replace textbooks.
  • OA: Shorthand for “open access.” Typically describes individual articles, as well as whole journals, that made available online at no cost to the reader.
  • Ss: Shorthand for “students.” (Because abbreviating it as “studs” would be kind of creepy.)

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)

68th chat, Monday October 17 2016: diversity/inclusion/anti-oppression at public service points

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)

67th 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.


#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


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 ( as well as a live Twitter chat on Thursday September 22. Find more information at 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? [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: