Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Gazing the Diversity Stance in North America: Bringing Practitioner Inquiry into the LIS Classroom

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Gazing the Diversity Stance in North America: Bringing Practitioner Inquiry into the LIS Classroom

Article excerpt

Introduction

During the American Library Association (ALA) presidency of Leslie Berger (2006-2007), I submitted a paper to the ALISE annual conference that was entitled, Creating a Seat at the Table: (Still) Seeking Culturally Competent Pedagogy in LIS Education. This was in response to Berger's presidential theme: "libraries build communities". Creating a Seat at the Table was an unpublished discussion piece for round table discourse at the ALISE 2007 conference. My impetus for submitting that paper was the need I saw for we library and information science (LIS) educators to think and talk about ways in which we can employ culturally competent pedagogy for the purpose of building effective learning communities in the LIS classroom. Since then, the conversation centering on LIS cultural competency has continued (e.g. Mestre, 2010; Jaeger, P., Bertot, J., & Subramaniam, M., 2013; Shorter-Gooden, 2013; Jaeger, P., et al., 2015). There have been some singular strides towards innovative initiatives in the LIS curricula (e.g. the diversity and inclusion track within the iSchool at Maryland's library science program and the cultural heritage informatics concentration at Simmons College). But we await a full scale shift in our educational paradigm to be led by ALA-accreditation LIS standards (COA, 2015).

There are, however, some LIS initiatives which are seeking to address the inequity of cultural representation and engagement within the practitioner ranks of librarianship. For example, the ALA Spectrum Scholar program continues to recruit and sponsor librarians of color and the ALA Office of Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) had been merged with the ALA Office of Diversity to now function as a broadened unit to focus and address cultural issues within LIS as the Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services. Notwithstanding these initiatives, I am still holding that it is LIS educators who are responsible for addressing the homogeneous culture of LIS because of the ways in which we pedagogically approach culture, heritage, and identity of not just library services to diverse populations. We also need to challenge librarians (includ- ing ourselves) to reflect upon their own culture, heritage, and identity as a vital aspect of librarian epistemology. I am invested in the ways in which we LIS practitioners define ourselves (or not), and how we reflect upon the impacts of the work we do, based on our identity construction as critical inquiry. For LIS educators this involves examining how we regard and facilitate multi-layered identities within ourselves and within our teaching in the LIS classroom. I am still making a call for LIS education to, not only help to "create a seat at the table" of a healthy, diverse librarianship, but also for LIS faculty to deeply consider who we are as teachers of LIS (culturally). We need to identify what we "do" to be "better" educators with an agency of critical inquiry for pedagogical praxis.

In this article I am therefore "writing back" to Creating a Seat at the Table. I am restating the case for diversity as a tenet of the LIS curriculum, but with added questions and challenges to our thinking about LIS identity construction and professional practice along with our own identity construction as we teach in the LIS classroom. Almost a decade into this discussion, I am using this presentation as an opportunity to beg the question "what are we doing" when we teach LIS?. "Who are we" as we teach our students how to be librarians in a 21st century world? A world that demands inclusion for voicedness that is not just present, but critically present, insisting on not just being seated at the table of a holistic cultural paradigm for LIS, but actively engaged and participating in reflective collaborative research as practitioners of teaching and advising emerging library and information professionals. Thus this work will restate and re-problematize what was said then as the issues are still present. …

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