July 31, 2011

CFP: Information Literacy and Social Justice: Radical Professional Praxis (An Edited Collection)

CFP: Information Literacy and Social Justice: Radical Professional Praxis (An Edited Collection)

Shana Higgins and Lua Gregory are instruction and reference librarians at University of Redlands. They recently co-taught a first-year seminar titled, “Bleep! Censorship and Free Speech in the U.S.”

In her award winning essay “Information Literacy and Reflective Pedagogical Praxis,” Heidi L.M. Jacobs draws out the inherent democratizing and social justice elements of information literacy as defined in the “Alexandria Proclamation On Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning.” She suggests that because of these underlying social justice elements, information literacy “is not only educational but also inherently political, cultural, and social” (258). We propose to extend the discussion of information literacy and its social justice aspects that James Elmborg, Cushla Kapitzke, Maria T. Accardi, Emily Drabinski, and Alana Kumbier, and Maura Seale have begun. If we consider the democratizing values implicit in librarianship’s professional ethics (such as intellectual freedom, social responsibility, diversity, democracy and privacy, among others) in relation to the sociopolitical context of information literacy, we will begin to make intentional connections between professional advocacy and curriculum and pedagogy. We hope this book will encourage a renewal of professional discourse about libraries in their social context, through a re-activation of the “neutrality debate,” as well as through an investigation of what it means for a global citizen to be information literate in late capitalism.

Objective of book:
This edited collection, to be published by Library Juice Press in Fall 2012, poses the following questions: What are the limits of standards and outcomes, such as ACRL’s [i.e. Standard 1.2 The information literate student identifies a variety of types and formats of potential sources for information. ], in fitting information literacy instruction to the complex contexts of information in the real world? Would the teaching of social justice and the democratizing values of the library profession strengthen critical information literacy in the classroom? And how do we balance the need to teach search skills and critical information literacy in our instructional efforts?

Target audience:
The target audience for this book includes instruction librarians, library instruction program coordinators, faculty and instructors interested in information literacy, and all librarians interested in the political, economic, social, and cultural contexts of the production, dissemination, suppression, and consumption of information.

Possible topics:
We encourage proposals on the intersections of information literacy instruction with the democratizing values of the library profession.

  • Possible topics may include information literacy aspects of media coverage of war and embedded journalism, renewal of the Patriot Act, market-based censorship, for-profit libraries (Library Systems & Services), EPA library closures and access to environmental information, immigrants and library access, Wikileaks and government censorship, corporate censorship, anti-communism and anti-socialism in the media, classification of government documents, international and comparative studies on censorship, First Amendment protection to whistleblowers and the press, British Petroleum and oil spill research, global warming censorship, and library database mergers.
  • Examples of information literacy sessions focusing on the above topics and/or framed by democratizing and social justice values of the library profession. Examples can also be aimed at specific disciplines.
  • Discussions of theories/theorists (e.g. Noam Chomsky, Edward S. Herman, C. Wright Mills, Paulo Friere, Peter McClaren, etc.) and their usefulness in illuminating sociopolitical contexts of information within the classroom.
  • Discussions on the “neutrality debate” in light of the sociopolitical and cultural context of information.

Submission Guidelines:
Please submit abstracts and proposals of up to 500 words to ilandsocialjustice@gmail.com by September 15, 2011. Notifications will be sent by November 1 and manuscripts from 1,500-7,000 words will be due by March 1, 2012.

July 29, 2011

Meet the Library Juice bloggers

After doing Library Juice as a solo project for twelve and a half years, I have decided it should be a team blog, and I have recruited a group of co-bloggers. There are now six people behind the Library Juice blog: me (Rory Litwin), Alison Lewis, Erik Estep, Terry Epperson, Alan Mattlage, and Melissa Morrone. Their one-paragraph bios should give an idea of where the blog may be headed.

Please welcome the new team members to the Library Juice blog.


July 26, 2011

The bullshit problem #debtceiling

As a friend pointed out to me that The Daily Show has noted, the debate about the debt ceiling is ongoing because of a bullshit problem. I realized this while listening to President Obama’s speech about the debt ceiling last night. People are so accustomed to bullshit, especially in politics, that the default response to anyone’s statement is to assume that it is bullshit like everything else and dismiss it. That means that it can be very difficult to be heard when you are not bullshitting, even when you are the President of the United States (or perhaps especially when you are an elected official).

If you’re interested in this problem, then I would recommend a small book by philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt titled On Bullshit, from Princeton University Press. Videophiles can watch a 10-minute interview with him on the Princeton University Press website.

If, as Frankfurt says, the problem of bullshit is endemic of our times, how should librarians respond, given our role and potential role in the information ecology? (Not to extend the metaphor of bullshit to fertilizing the growth of plants…)

July 18, 2011


At my university, there is a group of student tour guides who give tours of the campus to prospective students and their families. The library is included in their tour, and it is often amusing to listen to the misinformation about the library that they sometimes include. We periodically provide updated information, and the tour guides are trained each year, but errors are always present and we accept them with good humor.

What was harder to chuckle about not long ago was overhearing a tour guide give an explanation of the reference desk followed by an explanation of the nearby “Media Hub.” It went something like this:

(Spoken in a sad tone): “Over there is the reference desk where there is a librarian who can, um, help students find things to use for their research papers and things, and they are experts in different subject areas … There is a reference desk on each floor.” (In our building with four floors, there is Circulation and some student technology help on the first floor, reference on the second, student technology help on the third, and nobody on the fourth.)

“Moving over this way, that is the Media Hub, which is self-explanatory.”


It seems to me that we’re getting our message out okay regarding what we do, but most students here don’t connect to the service we are providing once they hear us describe it. It seems to me that overworked faculty members are not scrutinizing students’ papers to the point where the students would see any need for our help. So we say, “We can help you get a better grade,” but I think that from the students’ point of view it is hard to see how we could possibly do that, given the more immediate obstacles to better grades that they experience. There are exceptions, of course, and most days those are enough…

July 15, 2011

Alison M. Lewis new Chief Acquisitions Editor for Library Juice Press

Litwin Books
PO Box 3320
Duluth, MN 55803


Subject: Library Juice Press announces appointment of Alison M. Lewis, Ph.D. as Chief Acquisitions Editor.

Duluth, MN — July 15, 2011.

Library Juice Press, publisher of “books for librarians with a critical edge,” is proud to announce the recruitment of Alison M. Lewis, a library science professor and academic librarian, as Chief Acquisitions Editor for the imprint.

Dr. Lewis has her doctorate in English Literature from Temple University, and M.L.S. and M.A. degrees from Florida State University. She has been teaching courses in Drexel University’s Library and Information Science program since 2004. She worked as a professional librarian in academic and specialized/research settings from 1984 until 2007, when she was hired as a full-time faculty member in the iSchool at Drexel. Further qualifying her for her new role at Library Juice Press is her professional service to the library community, which has included leadership roles on the Progressive Librarians Guild’s Coordinating Committee, the Social Responsibilities Round Table’s Action Council, and various local and regional library and archival groups. In the background of these contributions has been her long experience in the Quaker community and the application of its ideals. Dr. Lewis is the editor of the 2008 book from Library Juice Press, Questioning Library Neutrality: Essays from Progressive Librarian.

Library Juice Press is an imprint of Litwin Books, LLC specializing in theoretical and practical issues in librarianship from a critical perspective, for an audience of professional librarians and students of library science. Among the topics covered by our publications are library philosophy, information policy, library activism, biography, and critical approaches to LIS topics covered elsewhere.

Litwin Books is an independent academic publisher of books about media, communication and the cultural record. We are interdisciplinary in scope and gather together works from a range of disciplines, including media studies, communication studies, information studies, philosophy of technology, philosophy of information, archival studies, communications history, history of archives and libraries, and related fields.

Press contact:
Rory Litwin
Litwin Books
PO Box 3320
Duluth, MN 55803

July 11, 2011

Call for Manuscripts for Special issue of Multicultural Review

Call for Manuscripts for Special issue of Multicultural Review

Libraries as a public good in 21st century multicultural societies: Policy and the politics of literacy, libraries and librarianship

Guest Editors: Curtis Brewer, Anne McMahan Grant (Clemson University)

When it comes to recent national budget discussions, funding for library services has come up short. For example, a 9% cut has been proposed for the FY2012 budget to the Institute for Museum and Library Services, an organization that provides assistance to the nations libraries. (President, 2011) And, on a local level, according to a recent Library Journal poll, 72% of responding libraries said that their budgets had been cut during FY2010 with one library staff person making the pointed observation that “Public libraries are not sacred cows any more, and librarians need to accept this and make their libraries viable to protect them against future challenges” (Kelley, 2011 p. 28). With these newly limited budgets, libraries are moving toward changing their image from the library as a storehouse for books to the library as a learning commons or an information gateway designed to help patrons not only find information, but to help them determine good information from bad (Casserly, 2002). A strong argument could be made that the development and support for libraries as a public good are central to an everchanging multi-cultural information society with the provision of library services playing a central role. The simple fact is that libraries are no longer merely storehouses of information. Outreach services have expanded as more libraries have internet accessible chat services that provide a personal librarian for anyone who can access a web page. This is especially true in academic libraries as one study found that 84% of libraries surveyed offered instant messaging services via their web page (Tripathi, 2010). Hospitals have librarians who assist medical staff in finding crucial research for their patients (Abels, 2002). Schools and universities have librarians to train students to filter the vast amounts of information that they will encounter in their daily lives as well as to provide them access to research materials (The State of America’s Libraries, 2011). And communities have libraries that give them access to the internet, provide safe places for patrons to learn, and gives them free access to materials that could lead to public discussions that may reshape our understanding of ourselves and others (How Libraries Stack Up, 2010). Given the possibly robust dividends a public investment in libraries, librarians and literacy programs could provide, it is important to interrogate how the political and policy context are currently shaping these possibilities.

The study of politics, policy and multiculturalism makes us acutely aware of how the framing of problem definitions, research and policies shapes public understanding of an issue (Fraser 1989; Hajer and Waagner 2003). Therefore, in this special issue we seek to pay close attention to how dominant values, institutionalized power, privilege, and the policy process itself interact to frame and reframe literacy, libraries and librarians as political issues in multicultural societies in the early twenty-first century. We seek articles that will help make sense of this changing policy environment for all practitioners concerned with libraries or literacy.

In this special issue of the Multicultural Review we ask for manuscripts that might address the following questions:

1. What is the state of the politics of libraries in these times of retrenchment? What knowledge might help practitioners navigate the changing policy contexts?

2. How do the dominant values within our society create avenues for change or act as barriers in the development of policies that address libraries, librarians and literacy?

3. What are the experiences of patrons and those working in libraries across multiple contexts in this time of retrenchment?

4. How are librarians and supporters of public libraries currently influencing the creation of policy?

5. How do the dominant political discourses constitute the library as a public institution and how is this related to inequality?

6. What role do libraries and literacy programs play in the creation of space for a more democratic, deliberative and inclusive forms of political participation?

We assume each manuscript should clearly articulate a conceptual framework grounded in, and informed by theory and relevant research. We want to emphasize the importance of maintaining a focus on the politics of your substantive topic/area in your work, including political theories that interact with multicultural theory when relevant. We would also like to emphasize the breadth of the readership of MCR and encourage authors explicitly show the relevancy of their argument to the work in the field.

Possible themes may include:

The role of interest group development in the change of literacy policy;

A critical analysis of the racialization of libraries and librarianship advocacy and their relationships to the growing digital divide;

The ways in which political theories around social movements and fearless speech can shape the potential for the reframing of political discourses;

The use of radical democratic theory to inform the advocacy discussions surrounding literacy and libraries;

The use of feminist theory to analyze the development of politics of library and/or literacy policy;

An institutional analysis of the interactions between accountability policy, library policy and literacy policy in a multicultural society;

An economic/structural analysis of the distribution of funding for libraries and literacy programs;

An historical account of the development and evolution of the federal involvement in the public library in order to shed light on our current policy debates for all those who are currently working as practitioners.

For this special issue of the Multicultrual Review we invite papers that interrogate and challenge the assumptions within the themes described above. Submissions may be either qualitative, quantitative or interpretive/conceptual manuscripts that address the questions and areas outlined above will be considered. Manuscripts should meet the 6th edition of APA Publication Manual and a maximum of 8000 words in length. The deadline for submission is September 15, 2011.

Please direct submissions, questions or abstracts to the guest editors
Curtis Brewer (brewer4@clemson.edu) and Anne McMahan Grant (anne1@clemson.edu)


Abels, Eileen G., Keith W. Cogdill, and Lisl Zach. The contributions of library and information services to hospitals and academic health sciences centers: a preliminary taxonomy, J Med Libr Assoc. 2002 July; 90(3): 276284.

Casserly, Mary. Developing a Concept of Collection for the Digital Age. portal: Libraries and the Academy, Volume 2, Number 4, October 2002, pp. 577-587.

Fraser, N. (1989). Unruly practices: Power, discourse and gender in contemporary social theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Hajer, M. A., & Wagenaar, H. (Eds.). (2003). Deliberative policy analysis: Understanding governance in the network society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

How Libraries Stack Up: 2010, OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) Report.

Kelley, M. Bottoming out: Severe cuts today put big question marks on the future. Library Journal (1976) v. 136 no. 1 (January 2011) p. 28-31.

President Obama’s Budget Strips FY2012 Funding. American Libraries v. 42 no. 3/4 (March/April 2011) p. 8.

The State of America’s Libraries 2011 – A report by the American Library Association, April, 2011.

Tripathi, Manorama and Sunil Kumar. Use of Web 2.0 tools in academic libraries: A reconnaissance of the international landscape. The International Information & Library Review Volume 42, Issue 3, September 2010, p. 195-207.

July 1, 2011

2011 Catalog

We finished our 2011 catalog in time to bring it to the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans last weekend. We now have it available for download on our website, or you can request to have a copy mailed to you.