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thursday, february 25  @ university of arizona main library

On Critical Librarianship and Pedagogies of the Practical

David James Hudson, Learning & Curriculum Support Librarian, University of Guelph



Both critical librarianship and critical pedagogy necessarily involve an encounter with questions of theory. Such questions remain uncomfortable within librarianship, however, given our profession’s central imperative of practicality. Drawing examples from critical race analyses of LIS, this talk will explore the politics and pitfalls of practicality as a central pedagogical imperative, arguing that critical librarianship is contingent upon the embrace of unsettling critique as a methodological and ethical necessity.


Librarians in the messy middle: Examining critical librarianship practice through the lens of privilege in academia

Sara D. Miller, Librarian for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning Initiatives, Michigan State University Libraries



While critical practice involves challenging systems and structures, many librarians function in the “messy middle” - making choices in everyday practice which may both support and challenge privileged academic structures. This workshop will take participants through a series of questions based on privilege as a lens for reflection on our choices, limitations, and opportunities as librarians within academic systems. The aim of the workshop is to help identify points of friction or frustration in our practice, areas for closer examination or opportunities for change, and to provide a more intentional understanding of our values and how they relate to practice.



Adjusting & Advocating: Reflecting on Challenges and Opportunities for Doing Critical Pedagogy as a New Librarian 

Sveta Stoytcheva, Humanities Librarian, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 

Sarah Crissinger, Information Literacy Librarian, Davidson College


Facilitated Roundtable Discussion

Many new librarians are eager to bring our existing commitments to social justice to our professional practice. New to the profession, we are anxious to prove ourselves as we learn to navigate complex institutional cultures and pre-established ways of doing things. On the other hand, being new sometimes provides the perfect cover for asking critical questions of entrenched practices. What are the particular challenges of doing critical pedagogy as new librarians? What unique opportunities for advocacy does being new afford? How can we best support each other and seek support from our more established colleagues?



Enabling Accessible Pedagogy

Alana Kumbier, Critical Social Inquiry & Digital Pedagogy Librarian, Hampshire College 

Julia Starkey


Facilitated Roundtable Discussion

Disability-informed critical pedagogy fosters accessible and inclusive learning environments. This roundtable will introduce topics that encourage participants to think about accessibility as a conversation and a process, rather than a problem to be solved. We are interested in asking how librarians can move beyond basic accommodations to transformative accessibility. We will develop an agenda for our roundtable conversation with roundtable participants, but are likely to explore questions including: How can library learning environments enable, or conversely disable, diverse learners? How do we develop disability-informed pedagogical strategies? We will also discuss how the library profession might better support diverse librarian teachers.



Assessment and Critical Praxis

Carolyn Caffrey Gardner, Information Literacy and Educational Technology Librarian, University of Southern California (USC)

Rebecca Halpern, Social Work Librarian, USC


Facilitated Roundtable Discussion

Are critical assessment practices possible? Is the role of assessment fundamentally at odds with critical library pedagogy? Assessing both instructor performance and student learning can rationalize academic programs or services, demonstrate student learning, measure teacher performance accountability, or provide feedback on the efficacy of instruction. In today’s neoliberal higher education landscape this is often reflected through “value” and “return on investment.” Given the fraught purposes of assessment in higher education, what would critical assessment look like in practice? This roundtable will ask participants to discuss the tension and propose assessment methods that are congruent with a critical pedagogy perspective.



Archives & Archival Objects as Pedagogical Tools for Librarian Engagement

Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, Head of Reference, The Graduate Center, City University of New York 

Kate Adler, Co-Director of Library Services/Senior Reference Librarian, Metropolitan College of New York



This presentation will juxtapose the engagement of archival research with bedrock concepts of Critical Information Literacy: What is authority? What is history? How is this historical record constructed and by whom? Whose voices are heard and whose are marginalized or simply drift away?


Kate (Co-Director of Library Services, MCNY) will discuss an embedded instruction program where archival research stood as the central project and a related future project to partner with local organizations to develop community archives. Shawn (Head of Reference, Graduate Center, CUNY) will discuss her work teaching archival research to graduate students as a function of information creation.



Lessons from My Move to a Whiter Place: Critical Library Pedagogy and Institutional Context 

Ian Beilin, Humanities Research Services Librarian, Columbia University



Does critical library instruction look different depending on institutional context? Are the strategies and approaches used by a critical library instructor more or less the same, regardless of the type of institution in which they find themselves working? This presentation will provide one librarian’s perspective on moving a critical library practice between two very different institutions. In particular I will highlight the challenges of doing critical work at an elite research university library. I suggest ways that insights from critical race theory and critical whiteness studies can aid in the practice of a critical library pedagogy in different contexts.


Teaching Alternative New Media: Whose Stories Do Licensed Databases Tell?

Julia Glassman, Librarian for Collections and Writing Initiatives, UCLA Powell Library



In information literacy instruction, Internet sources are often subjected to higher scrutiny than sources found in licensed databases. However, many marginalized writers use web 2.0 media, which are often not indexed in databases, to disseminate their ideas. Thus, by mandating the use of licensed databases and characterizing the Internet as inherently suspect, educators can bias students against marginalized writers. This session will introduce participants to examples of alternative new media, share case studies of library resources that present students with a distorted view of reality, and offer recommendations for educators seeking to include alternative new media in their teaching.



Making with Tech at a Women’s Hackathon: Critical Pedagogy as Critical Making

Maggie Melo, University of Arizona



This presentation draws from Paulo Freire and bell hooks’ arguments for the acquisition of individual critical consciousness through the disruption of oppressive social structures—an oppressive framework that is often applied to the student teacher binary. Learning is an integral variable to dissolve dominant ideologies purporting oppression. Maker culture, a tech extension of the DIY movement at large, engages several key fundamentals of critical pedagogy to be examined during this presentation. In particular, this presentation will focus on maker culture as a generative site to breakdown power hierarchies within classrooms, maker and hacker spaces, and other learning communities. To frame this analysis, the Women Techmakers Tucson Hackathon will serve as a site for examination and inquiry.


Archival Bodies as Nomadic Subjects: (Un)Becomings & Reconfigurations 

Jamie A. Lee, Assistant Professor of Digital Culture, Information, and Society, Faculty Advisory Committee, Institute for LGBT Studies, Archivist / Project Director, Arizona Queer Archives



Through a framework of the body, the archives highlights the particular—embodied—ways in which the human record is collected, organized, and preserved. Engaging both archival and queer theories, the understanding of body-as-archives / archives-as-body is instantiated in the oral history record from one gender-queer poet whose narration can be understood as a nomadic one of multiplicities, undoings, and metamorphoses. The far-reaching possibilities of the ongoing histories and instabilities of such archived (un)becomings—the simultaneous becoming and unbecoming—are at play in archival records, the archival body. The archives produces a dizzying effect through which, I argue, archivists can resist their urge to settle to consider new ways to understand and represent this unsettledness of dynamic (un)becomings and the bodies that produce and are produced by them. Through the interpretive frame of the nomadic, the archives can be understood as a site of (un)becomings and as space that can hold such nomadic living histories.


Professional Degrees and Critical Pedagogy: Opportunities for Agitation in Business, Medical and STEM programs 

Caitlan Maxwell, Reference and Instruction/Business & Technology Librarian, University of Washington Bothell/Cascadia College Campus Library 

Ilana Stonebraker, Business Information Specialist and Assistant Professor of Library Science, Purdue University 

Jessica Jerrit, Business Research and Instruction Librarian, UW Libraries, Foster Business Library 

Kenny Garcia, Reference and Instruction Librarian, California State University - Monterey Bay


Facilitated Roundtable Discussion

In this roundtable discussion, we will focus on librarians who serve students in professional programs (accounting, nursing, engineering, aspects of STEM). Compared with liberal arts education, professional programs are often the embodiment of the neoliberalistic and capitalist-centered pedagogy that critical information literacy writers urge us to fight against, challenging librarians integrating critical information literacy into the curriculum. How can librarians incorporate critical theories into a professionally-oriented degree program in a meaningful way? In what ways can they use critical pedagogy to frame issues of social justice and social responsibility in their work?



Critical Pedagogy: Classroom Dynamics and Sharing of Power

Jeremy Godfrey, Ph.D Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Arizona Writing Program



Critical pedagogy implores us instructors to “share” power equally with students.  This presentation complicates the notion of shared power for first-year writing courses.  This presentation begins with three main questions to explore:

  • Does “sharing” power undermine the authority of instructors?

  • How can “sharing” power offer more student representation in their instruction?

  • What activities could instructors of first-year writing and libraries implement to “share” power?

While not exhaustive, these three questions will open discussion during and following interactive activities based on a sample lesson plan with a “shared” power component.



Coming Home to Ourselves to Better Assist Those We Serve: Contemplative Techniques in Library Practice and Life

Leslie Langbert, Executive Director, Center for Compassion Studies, University of Arizona



The demands of the profession require a tremendous ability to be present, empathic and respond to frequent high stress levels of students, faculty and staff. With such intensity of the demands to be both knowledgeable and emotionally supportive in a complex interaction and environment, tools from contemplative pedagogy may be useful to support both the critical librarian and patron in their interaction to explore and gain deeper knowledge together. This session is designed to offer participants an interactive experience with contemplative techniques that may be used in their work, and to support well-being in daily life.



The Articulation of Space and Hospitality in Online Classrooms 

Dev Bose, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Associate, Dept. of English

Kara Reed, Ph.D., Assistant Director of Second Language Writing, Dept. of English

Jessica Shumake, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Information



Whether designing online spaces accessible to a range of users, or maintaining and sustaining online presence with students and colleagues, instructors working in online educational settings are responsible for creating spaces accessible by multiple stakeholders.


Bose and Reed draw on ekphrasis (how one art form illuminates the properties of another) within online course spaces to demonstrate the rhetorical value of images by using words to work through them. Shumake considers the concept of hospitality in online spaces to reflect on the affordances and constraints of teaching large numbers of students in an online classroom environment.

On Critical Librarianship
Librarians Messy Middle
Adjusting advocating
Enabling accessible pedagogy
Assessment Critical Praxis
Archives Archival Objects
Move to Whiter
Teaching Alternative
Professional Degrees
Critical Pedagogy
Making with Tech
Contemplative Pedagogy
Articulation of Space
Archival Bodies
friday, february 26 @ moca: museum of contemporary art
Build IT for All

Build IT for ALL

Jenny Wong-Welch, STEM Librarian, San Diego State University



What’s the impact of an academic library makerspace on critical pedagogy? Through the process of making, a student can tangibly learn to interpret all aspects of information literacy. However, making can be very exclusive. In order to make, students need access to tools and the opportunity to learn the required skills. Often, only students from a select major are given these opportunities. This presentation will focus on the library’s effort to create an inclusive space for all to making as well as the importance of creating an identity as a librarian educator aimed to teach the making process.



It’s Not a Competition: Questioning the Rhetoric of “Scholarly Versus Popular” in Library Instruction

Kevin Seeber, Foundational Experiences Librarian, University of Colorado Denver



Academic instruction librarians often introduce students to the concept of evaluating information by having them compare “scholarly versus popular” sources--an approach that wrongly implies these two kinds of information are a binary, and that they are in competition with one another. This presentation will question the motivations behind presenting scholarly and popular information in this way, as well as offer recommendations for how librarians can adapt this activity into something which allows for critical discussions of context and authority in the classroom.



"We're all feminists here!": Intersectional Interventions in a Women's College Library

Vani Natarajan, Humanities and Global Studies Librarian, Barnard College
Miriam Neptune, Digital Scholarship Librarian, Smith College



As librarians of color who have worked in women’s college libraries, we want to talk about what it means to embody our intersectionality in settings where phrases like, “We’re all feminists here,” may be used to avoid reckoning with critique of systemic injustice. We will draw upon our work as activist librarians, highlighting projects aimed at creative disruption. Our presentation will provide a forum to discuss with other librarians how we can make interventions even when the institutions we are a part of co-opt, conceal, and undermine efforts toward structural change.



Critical Library Pedagogy in the Neoliberal University

Maura Seale, Collections, Research & Instruction Librarian, Georgetown University
Jessica Critten, University of West Georgia
Karen Nicholson, University of Guelph



This panel will explore the ways that neoliberalism is legitimized and resisted in the information literacy classroom. Jessica Critten will critique Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) as an “objective” practice that embraces neoliberal measures of achievement and progress. Karen Nicholson will examine badging as a form of “academic capitalism” and as an exemplar of broader neoliberal discourses about entrepreneurship, skills, and success. Maura Seale, drawing on Rod Ferguson’s work on the institutionalization of minority interdisciplines, will discuss the institutionalization of critical librarianship in order to consider how critical librarianship can grapple with institutional power while continuing to imagine “strategies of intervention.”



Teaching Information Literacy: Towards a Critical Pedagogical Practice in Information Studies

Marika Cifor, PhD Student, Department of Information Studies, UCLA 

Robert D. Montoya, Department of Information Studies, UCLA

Mario H. Ramirez, Department of Information Studies, UCLA

Stacy Wood, Department of Information Studies, UCLA



This panel utilizes critical theory to develop innovative pedagogical praxis in Information Studies (IS). Marika Cifor and Stacy Wood explore the challenges and opportunities of developing an undergraduate archival studies curriculum at UCLA. Mario H. Ramirez examines how pedagogical approaches towards human rights within iSchools can benefit from alternative initiatives in the humanities. Robert D. Montoya examines Patrick Wilson’s 1968 publication, Two Kinds of Power: An Essay on Bibliographical Control as a source that can frame the teaching of social justice within iSchools.


A Charla on Access and the Archives: Methodological Approaches for Spanish Translation of Finding Aids

Lizeth Zepeda, Archivist and Librarian, Arizona Historical Society (Tucson)

Hanni Nabahe, SAA/ARL Mosaic Fellow, Special Collections at the University of Arizona Libraries



This charla (conversation) explores an ongoing collaboration of the Arizona Historical Society (AHS) and Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries (UASC), to increase access for Spanish-literate users with select translation of our finding aids. We describe two disparate but complementary processes for the identification of prospective translations: (1) a quantitative analysis of UASC circulation data  for Borderlands collections, which identifies the most used collections in this subject area, and (2) a qualitative collection analysis of both AHS and UASC collections, which identifies areas of strength and weakness in existing collections and, consequently, explores how to best direct Spanish-literate researchers to materials of interest at AHS, UASC, or elsewhere. We invite you to join a conversation to exchange ideas about how to further develop our framework and workflow, to critically examine our assumptions, to consider how best to meet the needs of this important and underserved community of Latin@ researchers, and extend our collections beyond self-imposed borders of the past.



Reference and Beyond: Aspiring Librarians and Intersectional Feminist Strategies in the LIS Classroom

Nicole A. Cooke, Assistant Professor, The Graduate School of Library and Information Science, The University of Illinois


Lightning Talk

When discussing critical librarianship and pedagogy, LIS graduate education should be part of the conversation. One way to educate critically conscious librarians is to adopt feminist pedagogy in the classroom. Feminist pedagogy values the perspectives of students and uses them to shape the learning environment. Feminist pedagogy also encourages reflection and alternative modes of teaching, learning, and assessment. This presentation will briefly address feminist pedagogy and its roots in critical pedagogy, discuss how it can be applied in the LIS classroom, and identify ways these interventions can be applied to the teaching and learning that occurs in libraries.



With freedom comes great responsibility: Controlling how you can incorporate diversity and inclusion in the classroom and reference desk

Quetzalli Barrientos, Resident Librarian for American University


Lightning Talk

As a first year academic librarian at American University, I see the importance of making a conscious effort in incorporating diversity and inclusion in my tasks, interaction with students, and in my projects. Events in the past year have forced a lot of academic institutions to examine diversity within their own student, staff, and faculty population. It is my hope that this talk will serve as a tool or discussion starter on how librarians can use critical pedagogy to see how they interact with students and analyze the role that they play as educators to the changing demographics of this country and their environment.



Inequality in Access to Information

John LaDue, Head of Knowledge Integration, University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System; EdD student, Higher Education Management, University of Pittsburgh


Lightning Talk

Phrases such as the “Information Age” and the “knowledge economy” are bandied about in popular culture, political speeches, and academic articles to describe the current status of technology in America and in the world. But if the economy is now based on information and knowledge, it is worth examining who has access to information. This presentation will explore the relationship between the percentage of students receiving Pell grants at an institution and the journal expenditures of that institution to see what gaps in access to information look like for members of different campus communities.



Language Justice in the Library Classroom

Kelly McElroy, Student Engagement and Community Outreach Librarian, Oregon State University


Lightning Talk

Language justice is “the right everyone has to communicate in the language in which we feel most comfortable” (Antena 2012). At most U.S. universities, students likely find themselves limited to using English in the classroom. For librarians who wish to create learning communities where students can be their whole selves, how do we honor our multilingual students? How can librarians -- particularly monolingual English speakers -- introduce opportunities for language justice in the classroom? We will examine principles recommended by activists, and explore ways to adapt them to common scenarios in library instruction.



Common Good: Reaching the University Community Through Outreach and Critical Theory

Maggie Nunley, Teach and Learning Librarian; University of Virginia
Matthew Vest, Lead for Exhibits and Programming, University of Virginia


Lightning Talk

At the University of Virginia, we developed Common Good, an outreach initiative for the libraries. We focus on critical theory to encourage discussion within the University and promote evidence-based approaches to student life topics. Through a series of programs, we've been able to partner with other organizations to highlight concerns of the student body and university administrators with everything from panel discussions to a Wikipedia edit-a-thon. The community is barely out of its first year at UVa but we believe that Common Good can support practice of critical theory in a way that is flexible, adaptive, and inclusive.



Pedagogies of Trauma in the Neoliberal University  

Monica J. Casper, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Arizona



Drawing from critical trauma studies, I explore what it means to teach about trauma in spaces that are, themselves, traumatic. Neoliberalism and its kin have created working conditions in the 21st century university that reproduce social inequalities while failing to produce the kinds of structures and practices that foster thriving much less surviving. From tenure denials for women of color to the emotional labor burden among faculty of color, from adjunctification to budget models that privilege formulas over people, trauma has become the defining characteristic of academic life — a far cry from the privileged existence such spaces embodied in the mid-twentieth century for the largely white male intellectual workforce. However, rather than engage in nostalgia for what once might have been for some through the invisible labor of others (e.g., wives, secretaries), I instead focus on what we might do to reclaim academic space from the harmful wages of neoliberalism and trauma. At the same time, I recast our understanding of trauma as in individual experience to one that is deeply structural and collective.


iSchool/KR Panel
All Feminists Here
Not a Competition
Neoliberal University
With freedom comes
Teaching Information Literacy
Reference and beyond
Language Justice
Inequality in Access
Common Good
Pedagogies of Trauma
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