Social Justice Issues
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382 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s soCiAl JustiCe issues mAp loCAtion F, 7 threAD loCAtion Page 124 sCApe Social Justice Issues means knowledge of Importance of Action and Activism Author Jocelyn Clark Figure 224 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s 383 Agreement DesCription Broadly speaking, social justice issues reflect movements that push for greater voice and more representation for underrepresented or underpowered communities. Because libraries and librarians are tasked to serve all communities, we are inherently involved with and must be aware of issues of social justice. Ideals near to the heart of social justice advocates are egalitarianism, balance of power, social advocacy, public service, and diversity awareness. All of these issues are reflected in the work that librarians do to serve our communities. Specific social justice issues encompass many areas, and I list a few here just to help guide our thinking: racism, poverty, ageism, immigration policy, sexism, civil rights, mental health activism, homelessness, labor law, environmentalism and environmental justice, and so on. There are many ways in which librarians can address social justice needs with community, and I present some of them below. Promoting awareness of social justice issues is one way to “improve society” because awareness of an issue is the first step to education and change. However, discussions around social justice can be fraught with controversy. Clearly, not everyone agrees with the basic assumption of creating a more egalitarian society, and even if they do, the methods to achieve change are controversial. You can start by discussing Spanish-language services and services to undocumented immigrants to see the sparks fly. However, the existence of controversy does not release us of responsibility to address issues of social injustice, provide services to ALL of the community, and maintain awareness of the impacts of our work. One of the traditional ways to support social justice in a library is collecting and providing access to materials that specifically address social justice issues. People often look to the libraries when researching topics such as immigration policy. To effectively support a debate or conversation about a social justice topic, librarians can provide access to conversations, thoughts, and materials with multiple viewpoints . Libraries and librarians have a responsibility to be knowledgeable about the current social issues such that they can provide access to materials that represent the debate. This is more or less the traditional role of the librarian, to provide access to all viewpoints without inserting oneself in the debate. We have to keep reminding ourselves that only with access to ALL material can we truly understand the issue . Yes, both the Rush Limbaugh book, The Way Things Ought to Be, and Al Franken’s, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, should be in the library—despite with whom you agree. Librarians engaged in social justice issues, such as Kathryn de la Peña McCook, advocate developing information resources around legislation and political action as another method of furthering social justice. To engage in conversation around social justice issues, the conversants should have access to upto -date information on the current political situation. School library media centers have gained a lot of attention lately as vehicles to address social justice issues. Bush (2009) gathers a number of writings together from American Association of School Library’s journal, Knowledge Quest. These articles address issues of civic responsibility in school libraries. Moffat (2005) also addresses integrating social justice programs and resources into a school media center. Another method to support social justice is through reference work and research. Topics around social justice are rife with inaccuracies , hearsay, rumor, and propaganda—just like many other topics. Providing authoritative and reliable materials to dispel inaccurate information is essential to supporting social justice. The conversation on a particular topic should be based as much as possible on fact rather than propaganda. Inaccurate and unsubstantiated resources do not necessarily have a place in the discussion, and it is up to librarians to decide which resources will be made most accessible and to encourage our members to choose resources appropriate to the discussion. One of the more active ways that librarians can engage in social justice activities is by designing outreach services that meet the needs of underrepresented communities. In-home delivery service to seniors, non-English-language services, even Internet access services can all be argued to be...



Subject Headings

  • Library science -- Philosophy.
  • Library science -- Forecasting.
  • Libraries and community.
  • Libraries and society.
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