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Antiracist Praxis

Critical Information Literacy by Hannah Park

In order to more fully understand what critical information literacy is, it is important to understand what information literacy (IL) is as it is generally defined. According to the Association of College and Research Libraries, information literacy is “the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning” (8). Taking this a step further, “critical information literacy refutes the neutrality of traditional IL and asks library educators and students to engage with the social and political dimensions of information, including its production, dissemination, and reception” (Tewell 292). When applied in the classroom, critical information literacy can take on a critical pedagogical stance. As Swanson writes, “a critical pedagogy directs us to understand information in a humanistic sense, as an extension of a person. This means that all information … contains the inherent biases and limited worldview of the author. From this point of view, [educators] and students would recognize that much–some would say all–of the information in our society flows from the points of power, economic and political” (72). Critical information literacy makes explicit the impact of power--social, political, economic-- in shaping the creation, access, and use of information.

Works Cited

Association of College and Research Libraries. Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. American Library Association, 2 Feb. 2015.

Tewell, Eamon. “Putting Critical Information Literacy into Context: How and Why Librarians Adopt Critical Practices in Their Teaching.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, 12 Oct. 2016.

Swanson, Troy A. “Applying a Critical Pedagogical Perspective to Information Literacy Standards.Community & Junior College Libraries, vol. 12, no. 4, 2005, pp. 65–77, doi:10.1300/j107v12n04_08.

Readings on Critical Information Literacy

Accardi, Maria T. et. al. Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods. Library Juice Press, 2010.

Booth, Char. “On Information Privilege.” Info-Mational, 1 Dec. 2014.

Brook, Freeda, et al. "In Pursuit of Antiracist Social Justice: Denaturalizing Whiteness in the Academic Library." Library Trends, vol. 64 no. 2, 2015, p. 246-284. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/lib.2015.0048.

Downey, Annie. Critical Information Literacy : Foundations, Inspiration, and Ideas. Library Juice Press, 2016.

Elmborg, James. “Critical Information Literacy: Implications for Instructional Practice.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship, vol. 32, no. 2, 2006, pp. 192–199, doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2005.12.004.

Ferretti, Jennifer. "Neutrality is Polite Oppression: How Critical Librarianship and Pedagogy Principles Counter Neutral Narratives and Benefit the Profession." Critical Librarianship and Pedagogy Symposium (CLAPS), Tucson, AZ, 15-16 November 2018. University of Arizona, 2018.

Gregory, Lua and Shana Higgins, editors. Information Literacy and Social Justice : Radical Professional Praxis. Library Juice Press, 2013.

Noble, Safiya Umoja. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. New York University Press, 2018. 

Pashia, Angela, and Jessica Critten, editors. Critical Approaches to Credit-Bearing Information Literacy Courses. Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, 2019.

Pagowsky, Nicole, and Kelly McElroy, editors. Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook. Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, 2016.

Rapchak, Marcia. “That Which Cannot be Named: The Absence of Race in the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.” The Journal of Radical Librarianship, vol. 5, 2019, pp. 173–196.

Swanson, Troy A. “Applying a Critical Pedagogical Perspective to Information Literacy Standards.Community & Junior College Libraries, vol. 12, no. 4, 2005, pp. 65–77, doi:10.1300/j107v12n04_08.

Tewell, Eamon. “Putting Critical Information Literacy into Context: How and Why Librarians Adopt Critical Practices in Their Teaching.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, 12 Oct. 2016.

Tewell, Eamon. “A Decade of Critical Information Literacy: A Review of the Literature.” Communications in Information Literacy, vol. 9, no.1, 2015, pp. 24–43.

Torrell, Margaret Rose. “That Was Then, This is Wow: A Case for Critical Information Literacy Across the Curriculum.” Communications in Information Literacy, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 118–133.