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LIS590SJL: Social Justice in Information Professions: Catching Up to the Present

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LIS590SJL: Social Justice in Information Professions: Catching Up to the Present

  1. 1. Catching Up to the Present Jen Clark, Adam Paradis, Melissa Cardenas-Dow
  2. 2. Catching Up to the Present Three Themes: • • • Social Justice in Our Leadership | Jen Clark o American Libraries Association as an advocate for Social Justice Contemporary Social Justice Issues | Adam Paradis o Librarians on the Ground Moving Forward | Melissa Cardenas-Dow o The Role of the Librarian, or, Should we be activists?
  3. 3. Social Justice in Our Leadership American Libraries Association as an advocate for Social Justice --Jen Clark
  4. 4. Social Justice in our Leadership: A look back at ALA’s history of “diversity” • Beginnings o 1853 or 1876? o Charter of 1879 • Major Diversity Milestones 1911 1st Woman President (Theresa West Elmendorf) 35 years after women attended the 1st conference 1921 1st African-American Speaker (Thomas Fountain Blue) 16 years after he was chosen to lead his library 1921 1st Round Table for Diversity Disbanded under pressure after 2 years 1956 1st Integrated Conference 35 years after 1st speaker 1976 1st African-American President (Clara Stanton Jones) 55 years after 1st speaker and 20 years after 1st integrated conference
  5. 5. Social Justice in our Leadership: A look back at ALA’s history of “diversity” • Beginnings o 1853 or 1876? o Charter of 1879 • Major Diversity Milestones 1911 1st Woman President (Theresa West Elmendorf) 35 years after women attended the 1st conference 1921 1st African-American Speaker (Thomas Fountain Blue) 16 years after he was chosen to lead his library 1921 1st Round Table for Diversity Disbanded under pressure after 2 years 1956 1st Integrated Conference 35 years after 1st speaker 1976 1st African-American President (Clara Stanton Jones) 55 years after 1st speaker and 20 years after 1st integrated conference
  6. 6. Social Justice in our Leadership: ALA’s current policies & missions • • Mission o “... in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.” Action Area of Diversity o “... reflected in its commitment to recruiting people of color and people with disabilities to the profession ... and services for all people.” ● Workplace Discrimination ○ “Denied employment rights or discriminated against on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, color, creed, age, disability, or place of national origin...” ● Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Round Table ○ “committed to serving the information needs of the GLBT professional... community, and the GLBT information and access needs of individuals at large...”
  7. 7. Social Justice in our Leadership: ALA’s demographics • 58 ALA-accredited MLS programs o “the philosophy, principles, and ethics of the field” o “the role of [LIS] in a diverse...society, including ... the needs of underserved groups”
  8. 8. Social Justice in our Leadership: ALA’s 1992 American Libraries Cover “What is ALA doing to represent the conservative librarians who come from and practise strong JudeoChristian moral standards, and who adhere to a positive woman (not feminist) outlook?” “And even though most members may be atheist, agnostic, ‘New Age,’ nominally Christian or Jewish, or otherwise, there are a number of members who are religious, in a deeply committed sense... We are a minority now” “Your cover helps with the impression that the profession is open to all types of peoples...but it doesn't further our profession as a part of mainstream America” “I must stand with the few principled people who remain. Since ALA now supports the immoral, I must disassociate myself.”
  9. 9. Social Justice in our Leadership: Discussion • Can an organization with the demographics and institutional history of the ALA be an effective agent of social justice? What would this top down social justice model look like? • Is ALA doing enough? Why or why not? • What can the ALA do to change the power dynamics?
  10. 10. Contemporary Social Justice Issues Librarians on the Ground --Adam Paradis
  11. 11. Contemporary Social Justice Issues: Contemporary Activities • • • • • • • circa 1982-HIV/AIDS 1948-1994-Apartheid in South Africa 1991-Persian Gulf War 2001 & 2006- USA PATRIOT Act 2002-E-Government 2004-Social Media, Global & Local Community And so many more
  12. 12. Contemporary Social Justice Issues: HIV/AIDS - Librarian Advocacy Library Journal, January 1993: There are three things that are absolutely true: 1. AIDS is preventable 2. Access to information = the difference between dying of AIDS vs. living with HIV 3. Librarians can and should provide that access
  13. 13. Contemporary Social Justice Issues: HIV/AIDS - Censorship ● LJ Against censorship: realize the value of the information while considering the sources (gov. docs or support groups); providing the information is key ● LJ Against censorship: because of the value of the information, avoid imposing personal beliefs, language, and standards on others. ● Reflexivity
  14. 14. Contemporary HIV/AIDS Advocacy • Philadelphia FIGHT and the AIDS Library
  15. 15. Contemporary Social Justice Issues: Apartheid in South Africa • • • South African Book Ban The Association of American Publishers “The Universal Right to Free Expression”
  16. 16. Contemporary Social Justice Issues: Institutionalization of Activism • • • • Nearly 20 years since the ‘end’ of South African Apartheid Verne Harris, Apartheidera activists Activist identity crisis Reflexivity
  17. 17. Contemporary Social Justice Issues: Persian Gulf War & War on Terror • • Advocacy v. Neutrality USA PATRIOT Act
  18. 18. Contemporary Social Justice Issues: USA PATRIOT ACT • • • • • Social Justice and Inter-Governmental Information Sharing? ALA’s Positions & Limits to FBI Freedom of Association Chilling Effect ‘Terrorism’
  19. 19. Contemporary Social Justice Issues: Independent Libraries Case Study: • The Read/Write Library o Community cataloging o Drupal catalog o Local/micro collection: Chicago-based collections policy o Community Focused/Run  Whose community? o Gentrification, Neighborhoods, Service o Grants, Partnerships, Non-profit industrial complex
  20. 20. Contemporary Social Justice Issues: Communities & Service • • Social Media, the Internet, and Outreach o Tumblr, pinterest, youtube and community involvement o Sharing resources (e.g. NEIU) Whom do we serve? o Expanded sense of community o Gentrification and ‘community engagement’ and misalignment o Reflexivity
  21. 21. Contemporary Social Justice Issues: Other Important Issues • • • • • 1988-Resolution on Access to the Use of Libraries and Information by Individuals with Physical or Mental Impairment Technological Literacy Urban Libraries Council and Curbing Youth Violence Neo-liberalization of public services Gender and Sexual Diversity o Coverage now vs. 1992 Library Journal
  22. 22. Questions • • • What new ills plague libraries? How do emerging technologies influence the types of activisims we can engage vis-a-vis the library? Provide examples of social justice issues you have faced as an information professional.
  23. 23. Moving Forward The Role of the Librarian, or, Should we be activists? --Melissa Cardenas-Dow
  24. 24. Moving Forward: Librarianship - Roles and Identities Gall, E. (n.d.). Importance of action and activism. In The atlas of new librarianship: Companion Site. Retrieved from: http://www.newlibrarianship.org/wordpress/?page_id=649
  25. 25. Moving Forward: Library Neutrality, Professionalism, and Political Activism • • • Professionalism Political Activism Library Neutrality, Objectivity “But once they decide to do their jobs, institutional exigencies overwhelm personal volition.” -- Gude, S. (n.d.). The bad kind of unionism. Jacobin, 13. Retrieved from: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/01/the-bad-kind-of-unionism
  26. 26. Moving Forward: “Should we be activists?” -- Discussion • • Considering the tensions we have seen between tenets of intellectual freedom and social responsibility, what stance do we take as a profession? Are there trappings to activism at a professional scale? What might authentic activism look like within the library & information profession?

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