Critical Pedagogy In Libraries: A Unified Approach

Melissa M. Gustafson

Abstract


Critical pedagogy originated in the social sciences during the mid-twentieth century with the foundational work of Paolo Friere.  More recently in information science, James Elmborg and others have framed critical pedagogy through the lens of information literacy instruction.  As a whole the philosophy is one which considers economic, political, and societal systems which influence the entire information life cycle from creation to consumption.  Central to the adoption was the incorporation of learners as equals with valid and highly individualized experiences in academic discourse.  Beyond information literacy instruction, critical pedagogy has the potential to also benefit and define the librarian’s outreach and support role for the scholarly communications process. Scholarly communications encompasses both traditional academic publishing models (peer reviewed journals, conference presentations, etc.) and nontraditional channels (social media, open access, etc.) and is concerned with the information lifecycle as it relates to teaching research and scholarly work. In consideration of scholarly communications processes, issues of critical pedagogy including external market forces, privilege of information, systems of access, and consumption all play a defining role.  A move to a more unified approach of critical pedagogy in libraries would highlight crucial issues of information literacy and scholarly communications while simultaneously augmenting the library’s role across campus. The evolution of critical pedagogy in libraries is briefly discussed.  Current scholarly communications practices in academic libraries as seen through the literature and by examining U.S. library websites is also reviewed.  The author makes suggestions for meaningful inclusion of critical pedagogy in libraries through a unified approach to scholarly communications and information literacy programs.

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