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Antiracist Praxis

Introduction to Racial Justice in Research by Symphony Bruce

The academic library was built on the same constructs that led to our current racist society. Our collections, policies, and pedagogies have historically supported and continue to support the marginalization of the oppressed, while bolstering the privileged. Libraries and library workers are just as much responsible for actively engaging in antiracist practices as the rest of the institution. 

The label for this section - Racial Justice in Research - focuses on exploring antiracist research praxis through the lens of librarianship and scholarly communication and the critical lenses that are found within. Critical Library Studies, as a discipline, unpacks the ways in which libraries can undermine oppressive hierarchies. But even with that goal in mind, Critical Librarianship, as a lens, has readily worked through discussions of capitalism, authoritarianism, accessibility, feminism, sexuality, and social justice in other forms while often ignoring race and racism altogether. 

There is a substantial body of work that explores demographics, recruitment, retention, diversity, and inclusion, but does not reckon with the racist foundations of libraries. This keeps library instructors from deeply engaging in antiracist pedagogy, while relying on a select few to do the work. Because Critical Librarianship has been around for so long while largely ignoring the issues of race, we see other critical theories, like Critical Race Theory from the scholarship of law, employed as a framework for further interrogation of the LIS field. 

Suggested Reading

Accardi, Maria T., et. al. "Beginning and Extending the Conversation." Communications in Information Literacy, vol.14, no. 1, pp. 1-11. 

Espinal, Isabel, et. al.  "A Holistic Approach for Inclusive Librarianship: Decentering Whiteness in Our Profession." Library Trends, vol. 67, no. 1, pp.  147-162.

Ferretti, Jennifer A. "Neutrality is Hostility: The Impact of (False) Neutrality in Academic Librarianship." Medium, 18 Feb. 2013,

Ferretti, Jennifer A. "Building a Critical Culture: How Critical Librarianship Falls Short in the Workplace." Communications in Information Literacy, vol. 14, no.1, pp. 134-152.

Leung, Sofia and Jorge R. López-McKnight, editors. Knowledge Justice: Disrupting Library and Information Studies Through Critical Race Theory. MIT Press, 2021.

Leung, Sofia and Jorge R. López-McKnight. "Dreaming Revolutionary Futures: Critical Race’s Centrality to Ending White Supremacy." Communications in Information Literacy, vol.14, no. 1, pp. 12-26. 

Schlesselman-Tarango, Gina, editor. Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science. Library Juice Press, 2017.

Race and Libraries: A Foundational Reading List

Espinal, Isabel. "A New Vocabulary for Inclusive Librarianship: Applying Whiteness Theory to Our Profession." The Power of Language = El Poder de la Palabra: Selected Papers from the Second REFORMA National Conference, edited by Lillian Castillo-Speed, Libraries Unlimited, 2001, pp. 131-149.

Gibson, Amelia, et. al. "Critical Race Theory in the LIS Curriculum." Re-Envisioning the MLS: Perspectives on the Future of Library and Information Science Education, edited by Johanna Percell, et. al., vol. 1, 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 49-70.

Honma, Todd. "Trippin’ Over the Color Line: The Invisibility of Race in Library and Information Studies." Interactions, vol.1, no. 2, 2015.

Mehra, Bharat and LaVerne Grey. "An 'Owning Up' of White-IST Trends in LIS to Further Real Transformations." The Library Quarterly, vol. 90, no. 1, pp. 189–239. 

Peterson, Lorna. "Alternative Perspectives in Library and Information Science: Issues of Race." Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, vol. 37, no. 2, Apr. 1996, pp. 163-174.

Strand, Karla J. "Disrupting Whiteness in Libraries and Librarianship: A Reading List." The Office of the Gender and Women's Studies Librarian, in progress,

Yeo, ShinJoun and James R. Jacobs. ."Diversity Matters? Rethinking Diversity in Libraries." Counterpoise, vol. 9, no. 2, 2006, pp. 5-8.