Magazine article Information Today

LIDA 2018: Exploring Underserved Communities

Magazine article Information Today

LIDA 2018: Exploring Underserved Communities

Article excerpt

Social Justice, Community Engagement and Information Institutions: Access, Diversity, and Inclusion, the theme of the Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) biennial international conference (ozk.unizd.hr/lida)-held at the University of Zadar in Croatia, June 13-15, 2018-was introduced by invited speaker Nicole A. Cooke (University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign). She opened her presentation, Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Centering Social Justice in LIS Practice, with the concept of library personnel as active bystanders. She noted that everyone can play this role by being aware of their surroundings, determining if action is required, feeling responsibility to act, and intervening safely. She said that social justice is about educating ourselves and others and taking action to change the status quo. It is about destroying systematic marginalization and privilege.

Toni Samek (University of Alberta) presented Definition of Risk: A Situation Involving Exposure to Danger. She asked a question posed in an International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) blog devoted to how libraries can promote human rights: "What does it mean to protect, enforce and advocate for human rights in your work and in your life?" She said that society is witness to how library and information professionals, who often work at the frontiers of risk, use their education and experience to ameliorate social concerns. For example, they engage in copyright law reform on behalf of people with print disabilities, educate about how commercial internet filters are biased against the LGBT+ commumnity, and protect sensitive cultural heritage in the context of war, conflict, and genocide. She showed the growth in the literature by searching LISA, LISS, and SCOPUS for terms "Librar· and Human Rights or Social Justice or Social Responsibility" and finding a significant increase beginning in 2003.

In Toward a Critical Optimism: Enacting Access, Diversity, Inclusion, and Democracy in Difficult Times, four speakers demonstrated how intentional and critical reflection on practices supports and enables social justice work in libraries and information institutions. AnneMarie Deitering (Oregon State University) examined professional practice to frame the connection between critical reflection and values-based practice. Emily Drabinski (Long Island University) talked about the ways that skills gained in an organized-labor struggle can be deployed in order to produce both hope and power in the context of broader fights for the value of libraries. Heidi L.M. Jacobs (University of Windsor) discussed her experience in developing a community-based digital historical project to preserve and reclaim a forgotten story about race in Canada. Peter Bailey (St. Albert Public Library in Canada) spoke about the difficult emotional work of defending and advocating for public libraries within a dominant discourse of austerity.

Prisoners, the Homeless, and Librarians of Color

In another session, Snježana Berak and Kristina Čunović (Croatian Reading Association) discussed library services for Croatian prisoners and said that 12,734 children in Croatia had at least one parent in prison in 2015. The Croatian Reading Association is participating in a program for prisoners and their children in which incarcerated parents are recorded reading aloud, and the recordings, together with the books, are sent back to their families. Alison Brown, Vivian Howard, and Jennifer Grek Martin (Dalhousie University) reported on their research, which explored the outcomes of a similar read-together program conducted for incarcerated mothers in Nova Scotia. The Mother-Child Read Aloud Program helped them bond and connect with their children by reading them stories. This participation let them regain a sense of normalcy and an identity associated with their role as a mother.

Let's Talk About the Challenges and Outcomes of Providing Library Services for People Experiencing Homelessness! …

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