Critical Librarianship in Praxis

2022 NYC Course

Description: Critical librarianship interrogates library practices to understand how the field’s systems and structures emerge through ideologies of gender, race, class, and other axes of social difference. For example, critical librarians take the cataloging and classification systems that are often pitched as neutral and natural and ask why books related to minoritized sexualities are described incompletely and shelved as “social problems.” If we can understand how library work is constituted through complex relations of power, we can begin to build a different kind of librarianship that works toward a more just future. Participants will work together to build a shared analysis of power and the terrain of struggle along with concrete plans for taking action in our own libraries.

Participants will:

  1. Develop a critical analysis of various library practices including organization of information, reference and instruction, collection development, and staffing, management, and budgets.
  2. Build a shared analysis of power in order to locate sites of potential resistance, struggle, and change.
  3. Design working plans of action for issues faced by participants in their home libraries.
  4. Explore sites across New York City where critical librarians have put theory into action in their institutions.

Years taught: 2021, 2022 by Emily Drabinski