Libraries and archives are community spaces that acquire, organize, preserve, and make available resources for our patrons. Library workers connect people to these resources in various ways (technical services, reference, instruction, and more). It is noble and wonderful work, and it begs some interesting questions: is acquisition, organization, preservation, or dissemination a series of passive acts? Are libraries impartial spaces that give the real estate on their shelves to the words and ideas of others without judgment or context?

So, what does critical librarianship mean, exactly, and how is it practiced? To think about this, we look at librarianship through a lens of critical theory and understand that there is a certain amount of activism implied. To embrace critical librarianship means that you believe that libraries should work for social justice (and figure out ways to actually do that work). Critical librarianship also invites library workers to consider how our institutions and our roles have enforced or at least complied with systems of oppression, both in the past and now.

I was curious about these ideas and these questions, so I asked you, the Oregon library community, to tell us about how you see critical librarianship and if it plays a role in your work. I was delighted to get responses from incredible, inspiring librarians who were willing to share their stories.

Author Biography

Elsa is the Director of Library Services at the Oregon College of Art and Craft and serves as the past president of the Oregon Library Association. She earned her MLIS from the Pratt Institute, and her B.A. from the University of Oregon. She has worked in public libraries, academic libraries, and a museum archive. Among the many things she loves about library work is serving students and collaborating with the amazing people who work in the library world.

Copyright statement

© 2017 Elsa Loftis



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