Symposium on the Future of Libraries
Public Libraries with their trained librarians are in a unique position to engage all intersections of identity, by creating programs, providing access to archival materials and encouraging discovery- all while amplifying the stories and voices of our most at risk and marginalized community members. Scholars and activists like Angela Davis and Kimberlé Crenshaw remind us that feminism, as well as other educational social justice theories, can give us a way to name multiple forms of oppression, yet at the same time can also liberate us, and provoke us to imagine and name the possibilities. Public librarians hold the key to those possibilities for every individual who walks through our library doors by the programs we plan, the critical connections we help to form, and the informational pathways we create. However, public libraries have a tradition of backing away from social movements or social theories that could be implemented into library praxis due to an over-reliance on or a misunderstanding of library neutrality. This reluctant also means that very rarely do librarians critically self-reflect on their biases, biases that unknowingly inform how they program.
This session will focus on how librarians can implement feminist theory and social justice theory in their library praxis to form an ‘intentionally intersectional” method of programming and interacting with their communities. Intentional intersectionality is exactly what it sounds like- a mindful and purposefully way of looking at programming for library diversity and intersectionality. Intentional intersectionality is in sharp contrast to intersectionality by default- meaning that the library and its programs are intersectional by “accident” rather than by purposeful design.
Participants will be asked to self-reflect on the biases they bring with them when creating programs. Then as a group, we will work to dismantle these biases to form a meaningful and intentionally intersectional way of thinking about library programming. This will be done by applying the thinking of feminist theory and feminist pedagogy to library practice. Feminism can be and has been, defined in many ways. But when I think about feminism, I’m thinking about a lens that makes visible, and gives voice to, the unique and intersecting oppressions women experience due to the dominant patriarchal culture; and by naming it and making that oppression visible, feminism in a public library allows for the transforming of culture so that women are treated equally, with the respect owed to all humanity. By using feminist theory and pedagogy to form an intentional intersectional way of programming and overall library praxis, librarians are better about to serve their community in meaningful and impactful ways- offering them humanity in a world that often denies it.
ALA Unit/Subunit: ALA, Center for the Future of Libraries
Meeting Type: Symposium on the Future of Libraries
Cost: Included with full conference registration.