I am pleased to announce that our panel, “Social Justice in Library and Information Science,” was accepted to the iConference in Berlin, March 4th-7th.. I look forward to presenting with my esteemed colleagues Dr. Nicole A. Cooke, Dr. Safiya U. Noble, Melissa Villa-Nicholas, and KR Roberto. Check out the session abstract below- we hope to see you there!
Social Justice in Library and Information Science
While pursuing graduate degrees in library and information science (LIS), it is hoped that
students will learn the basics necessary for competent, inclusive, and caring professional
practice. This requires a blended educational approach that emphasizes culture, context,
and critical thinking that extends across curricula, professional practice, and
research. Components of this blended approach include developing the ability to
critically reflect on the role of information technologies and institutions in society, as
well as their own positionality and privilege that shapes their practice. Honing these
reflection skills is particularly important in the current information environment that is
shaped by widening wealth gaps, decreased funding for social services and education,
and increased data surveillance initiatives. Information professionals are involved at
every level of information provision and technology design and, thus, are uniquely poised
to impact the communities they serve, as well as broader society.
This panel will explore how social justice topics and techniques can be integrated in LIS
through a variety of contexts including curricular, extra-curricular professional
development, and research. Social justice integration creates opportunities for students to
gain a more holistic and inclusive perspective on the relationships between people,
information, and technology, with the ultimate potential of shaping a more just society.
The panel topics approach social justice in LIS from a range of professional experiences,
drawing on concrete examples, interventions, and historical cases:
• Social Justice as Topic and Tool in the LIS Classroom
Nicole A. Cooke encourages the teaching of social justice in the curriculum as a
way to begin addressing the holistic development of future information
• Teaching Trayvon: The Value of Teaching and Talking about Race, Gender and
Sexuality in the Information Professions
Safiya U. Noble discusses the positive aspects and pitfalls of injecting a course
focused on race and gender into the curriculum as a diversity intervention.
• Inclusions and Exclusions: Reflections on a Reading Group
Miriam E. Sweeney reflects on the history and formation of an extracurricular
reading group about race and diversity that extends social justice initiatives
outside of the formal learning environment to the broader campus community.
• Description is a Drag, and Vice Versa: Classification of Queer Identities
KR Roberto offers a historical overview of the ways in which authorized
vocabularies have differed from vernacular language commonly used by
community members and LGBTQ scholars to describe their own lives. The talk
also explores the potential ramifications of these disconnects for queer and
• Latina/o Librarians in the Digital Age: An Historical Reflection of Social Justice
Melissa Villa-Nicholas offers a historical reflection on the ways in which
REFORMA navigated the digital age and encourages present day organizing
tactics surrounding technological equitability.
Each panelist will give a brief presentation that focuses on a particular case or context
where they have integrated or applied social justice topics or techniques. After the
presentations, the floor will be opened for questions, shared experiences, and discussion
that probe the broader topic of using social justice to train culturally competent
information professionals and strive for greater equality and justice in society.
This panel will be organized as a 90 minutes session with the following agenda:
• Presentations (60 minutes, 12 minutes each)
• Group Discussion (30 minutes)
The goals for this session are to:
• Reflect on the experience of introducing social justice topics and techniques into
• Explore how extracurricular learning spaces may be used to facilitate broader
social justice outcomes in our institutional communities
• Locate historical research as an intervention that introduces justice-oriented
counter-narratives in support of curricular goals
This panel emphasizes the culture and context part of the equation in “Breaking Down
Walls: Culture-Context-Computing.” The organizers extend the meaning of context and
culture to ask broader questions about the responsibility LIS educators, professionals, and
researchers may have for fostering social justice values in the profession. The intended
audience for this panel includes LIS educators, practitioners, and researchers who are
interested in the many ways social justice techniques and topics may be integrated into
LIS. The panel format uses the experiences and examples brought forth in the formal
presentations to foster a rich group dialog where participants will be encouraged to bring
in their own experiences and questions.