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”.
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)
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).
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!
Need help keeping track of the next critlib Twitter chat? Add the critlib calendar (iCal, html) to whatever app you use to keep your schedule. (To add to your Google calendar, click the html link, then click the tiny “Google calendar” plus sign at bottom right.)
In multiple discussions, twitter chats, and conference presentations, the need for library work to understand, respect, and address issues of diversity is continually brought up. We talk about the need to not only re-design our cataloging methods but also questioning the underlying technology that drives discovery. This requires navigating, balancing, and integrating diverse aspects of academics, society, and technology. Value sensitive design (VSD) is one design approach to consider for tackling these challenges. VSD emphasizes identifying and respecting human values throughout the interactions of society and technology. Using a multidisciplinary perspective that draws on philosophy, social sciences, and engineering, VSD has been applied to many domains, including city planning, assistive technologies, and Internet privacy policies. Let’s explore its potential for innovation and progress in library work, especially in regards to critical librarianship.