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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice in LIS

LibGuides | Journals | Organizations & Interest Groups | Anti-Racism in LIS | Serving Diverse Communities | Classification & Knowledge Organization | Critical Librarianship | LIS Curriculum


  • American University Library’s LibGuide on Antiracist Praxis
    This LibGuide from the American University Library focuses on general Antiracist praxis. Of particular interest to librarians is the section on “Racial Justice in Research,” which includes information on Critical Librarianship, Information Literacy, and Cataloging, decolonizing research methods, and combatting white supremacy in Scholarly Communications. Listed resources are primarily books and journal articles, many of which can be found through the UIUC catalog.
  • SCRLC: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice (DEIJ)
    This LibGuide from the South Central Regional Library Council in New York state includes videos, guidelines, and links to resources on diversity plans, disability justice, collection development, recruitment & retention, and more. Most resources are open access and applicable to all libraries and other organizations and individuals concerned with DEI and social justice.
  • Southern Tier Library System: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice
    This mega-LibGuide from the Southern Tier Library System features a huge number of resources on topics such as racism, LGBT inclusion, ableism, poverty & homelessness, accessibility, and prison librarianship. All topic guides are focused on how librarians can serve members of vulnerable communities. Resources include videos, toolkits, organization websites, educational graphics, books, and crisis lines.
  • UBC Guide on Indigenous Librarianship
    The University of British Columbia Library hosts the most detailed LibGuide on Indigenous Librarianship, with resources from digital and print collections, online journals and databases, student theses, and government publications. Topics include Indigenous knowledge organization, classification systems, cultural & intellectual property management, and truth & reconciliation. The guide also includes a list of Indigenous Libraries and associations related to Indigenous Librarianship in Canada, the United States, and Oceania. Some resources are open access; others you can access by searching for them on the UIUC catalog.


Organizations & Interest Groups

  • Abolitionist Library Association
    The Abolitionist Library Association (AbLA) is a group of abolitionist librarians who seek to divest libraries from policing in libraries and work towards collective liberation. Their website includes a sign-up link for their listserv, list of resources, and working groups that librarians can join. The listserv is quite active with several emails a week and includes librarians from diverse backgrounds and organizations.
  • Library Accessibility Alliance
    The Library Accessibility Alliance (LAA) is an organization composed of research library consortiums that are committed to improving e-resource accessibility. Additionally, the alliance has compiled an open-access Library Accessibility Toolkit that includes guidelines and resources on both physical and digital accessibility. You can also find accessibility evaluations, register for events, and sign up for the LAA newsletter on their website.
  • Museums & Race: Transformation and Justice
    Museums & Race is a website for a group of museum professionals dedicated to challenging institutional policies and systems that perpetuate oppression in museums. They host webinars and conference sessions and publish a “Museums and Race Report Card” for institutions to use. You can follow the group on Twitter or Facebook or sign up for email updates.
  • Urbana Champaign Books to Prisoners
    UC Books to Prisoners is a local organization that provides free books on request to incarcerated individuals and operates two county jail libraries. You can volunteer with the organization to respond to letter requests and select and send books. You can also donate books, money, and computers to the organization. Contact information by phone or email is listed on the website.
  • We Here
    We Here provides a community for Black and Indigenous folks and People of Color (BIPOC) who work in library and information science. The goal of the group is to collaborate on challenging systemic social issues and provide support for people who identify as BIPOC within the information field. Their website includes a “community school” with workshops, readings, and webinars, online events, publications, community study groups, and a password-protected job board for BIPOC librarians. Many events are for We Here-members only to ensure confidentiality and safety. You can create an account on the website or subscribe to the We Here newsletter to get involved.

Anti-Racism in LIS

  • Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble. 2018.
    This book demonstrates how search algorithms reflect and reinforce racial inequality. Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes how data discrimination privileges whiteness and discriminates against people of color, especially women of color. Available online through UIUC.
  • Human Rights, Racial Equality & New Information Technologies: Mapping the Structural Threats. 2020. 
    This report from a working group convened by the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law and the UCLA Center for Critical Inquiry addresses the issue of racial inequality in new information technologies. The report focuses on a broad structural analysis of emerging networked and predictive technologies and their effect on racial equality beyond issues of hate crime and hate speech. As a result of this analysis, the report features a map of the political economy and other structural forces that drive racial discrimination, a typology of the most pressing mechanisms of oppression associated with emerging digital technologies, and a human rights response plan that combats racial oppression in technology. Open access.
  • The Legacy of Lady Bountiful: White Women in the Library by Gina Schlesselman-Tarango. Library Trends 64(4). 2016.
    This paper analyzes how white women within LIS have been agents of white supremacy and colonialism through the archetype of “Lady Bountiful” and associated discourse around the “civilizing mission” of librarians. In identifying this archetype, the author locates her legacy in contemporary pedagogies and practices in the library and suggests how this legacy can be disrupted. Accessible through UIUC.
  • On Dark Continents and Digital Divides: Information Inequality and the Reproduction of Racial Otherness in Library and Information Studies by David J. Hudson. 2016.
    This paper analyzes how discussions around the “digital divide” and information inequality within LIS inevitably reproduce racist tropes and discourse. Such discourse situates Western civilization as “informed/enlightened” in comparison to the “information poor” Global South, thus replicating colonial constructions of Western superiority and racial Otherness. The paper extends critical race theory to an international LIS context by engaging in a critique of the literature on global information inequality. Open access.
  • Oregon Library Association’s OVERDUE: Weeding Out Oppression in Libraries. 2022-ongoing. 
    This podcast, produced and hosted by the Oregon Library Association’s EDI & Antiracism Committee, discusses inequities and oppression within the field of librarianship, with a specific focus on racism. The podcast has produced 1-2 episodes per month since March 2022, with each episode featuring special guests from the field. Episode topics include advocating for marginalized communities through outreach, mentoring new professionals, and facilitating EDI conversations.
  • Pushing the Margins: Women of Color and Intersectionality in LIS edited by Rose L. Chou and Annie Pho. 2018.
    This collection centers the voices of women of color within LIS through personal narratives and critical dialogue. Using intersectionality as a framework, each essay reflects a different perspective from professionals of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. In all, the collection analyzes gendered and racial marginalization in LIS while championing the voices of women of color and exploring new paradigms for advocacy within the field. Available both online and in-print through UIUC.

Serving Diverse Communities

  • Algorithmic Bias in Library Discovery Systems by Matthew Reidsma. 2016.
    This essay provides an overview and analysis of implicit bias within library discovery systems and search algorithms. For a longer discussion of this issue, read Masked by Trust: Bias in Library Discovery by the same author (published open access).
  • Creating the Trans-Inclusive Library: A Practice Guide by Brett D. Currier and Tessa White. 2019.
    This guide, funded by the Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services of the American Library Association, provides activities and guidelines for librarians that aim to make libraries a more inclusive environment for trans* folks, both employees and patrons. Topics covered include bathrooms, special collections, administrative data collection, metadata, and programming.
  • The Feminist Reference Desk: Concepts, Critiques, and Conversations edited by Maria T. Accardi. 2017.
    This book analyzes reference through an intersectional feminist lens and considers how we can provide the best reference experience for women and other individuals who face disenfranchisement and/or oppression. The collection includes essays from a variety of LIS practitioners from different types of libraries. Available in-print at UIUC.
  • Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers. 2015.
    This toolkit, produced by the Association for Library Service to Children, contains resources and guidelines for serving unique populations of children and their caregivers, including homeschoolers, LGBTQ+ families, autistic children, children with incarcerated parents, Spanish-speaking families, children with print disabilities, and teenage parents.
  • SAR Guideline for Collaborations. 2019.
    The SAR Guidelines are a resource for museums and Native communities planning and carrying out collaborative work in exhibits, programming, and collections. They were developed by a group of both Native and non-Native museum professionals and community leaders with the goal of supporting a collaborative model of museum work and building positive relationships with community members. The website includes guidelines for both museums and Native communities who plan to collaborate with museums as well as case studies of the guidelines in use.

Classification & Knowledge Organization

  • Archives for Black Lives: Anti-Racist Description Resources. 2020.
    This toolkit features recommendations for creating anti-racist archival descriptions from the Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia’s Anti-Racist Description Working Group. The PDF includes metadata recommendations and an annotated bibliography of sources on anti-racism in library and archival description standards.
  • Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, Volume 53, Issue 5-6: Indigenous Knowledge Organization. 2015.
    This set of special journal issues contain 11 articles, along with a forward, introduction, and afterword, on Indigenous knowledge organization around the world. Specific topics include classification systems, subject headings, object description, and cataloging standards. Access Cataloging & Classification Quarterly through the UIUC library catalog.
  • A Code of Ethics for Catalogers.
    The Cataloging Code of Ethics (2021) presents a set of principles and values for catalogers engaged in the work of dismantling systems of racism, white supremacy, and colonialism found in cataloguing. In addition to the Code of Ethics, the website for the Cataloging Ethics Steering Committee includes case studies, presentation recordings by the committee, working group reports, and a bibliography.
  • Homosaurus
    The Homosaurus is an international linked data vocabulary of LGBTQ+ terms designed to serve as a companion to broad subject term vocabularies such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings.  The Homosaurus aims to enhance the discoverability of LGBTQ resources through the adoption of LGBTQ-specific terminology. It is a living thesaurus with an editorial board composed of LGBTQ+ informational professionals who work to continuously improve and publicize the project.
  • More Than Personal Communication: Templates For Citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers by Lorisia MacLeod. 2021.
    In this project report, MacLeod, an early career librarian and member of the James Smith Cree Nation, introduces citation templates for Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers. These citation templates, which were created in partnership with the staff of the NorQuest Indigenous Student Centre, aim to respectfully represent Indigenous voices and knowledge in academia. The templates have been adopted/linked to by more than twenty-five institutions across Canada and the United States. Open access.
  • Through the Archival Looking Glass: A Reader on Diversity and Inclusion edited by Mary A. Caldera and Kathryn M. Neal. 2014.
    This reader features 10 essays on diversity and archives, focusing on issues and themes of archivist recruitment, record creation, and naming authority. Overall, the book aims to promote diversity and inclusion within the archival field and intervene in hierarchical and oppressive structures that are embedded in the field. Available in-print at UIUC.

Critical Librarianship

Critical librarianship is a movement to bring social justice principles into the work of librarianship through both theory and praxis. Critical librarianship aims to disrupt systems of white supremacy, capitalism, and other structural inequalities within all forms of librarianship. Topics falling under the umbrella of critical librarianship include critical pedagogy and critical information literacy.

  • Critical Information Literacy in Practice: An Interpretive Synthesis by Beth Allsopp McDonough. 2014.
    In this thesis, McDonough reviews and synthesizes the literature on critical information literacy through her own experiences as a practitioner. She focuses on identifying pedagogical and instructional content in her literature review in order to adapt specific teaching practices that take a critical approach to information literacy into her own instruction of undergraduate students. These practices can in turn be adapted by other practitioners concerned with critical information literacy. In combining critical theory with praxis, this work provides a detailed guide for teaching librarians ready to engage in critical information literacy. Open access.
  • Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook (vols. 1-2) edited by Nicole Pagowsky and Kelly McElroy. 2016.
    The two-volume Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook, published by the Association of College and Research Libraries, features essays, workbook activities, and lesson plans that use the concepts of and techniques from critical pedagogy and critical information literacy. The purpose of the handbook is to assist instruction librarians in teaching information literacy in a way that promotes social justice and critiques systems of power and oppression. Available online through UIUC.
  • critlib
    This website provides an introduction to the field of critical librarianship, featuring resources, blog posts, conferences, and twitter feeds. You can find other librarians engaged in critical librarianship by searching #critlib on Twitter.
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Libraries: A Call to Action and Strategies for Success edited by Shannon D. Jones and Beverly Murphy. 2019.
    This book proposes strategies for promoting diversity and inclusion in libraries through writings from practitioners in the field. Essays include a historical overview of diversity in libraries, a literature review of contemporary research on the topic, and personal narratives from librarians dealing with experiences of racism, ableism, misogyny, transphobia, and other forms of oppression in the field. The collection also offers specific strategies for combatting microaggressions, recruiting and leading diverse staff, developing cultural competency, and creating a successful task group on diversity. Available in-print at UIUC.
  • LIS Interrupted: Intersections of Mental Illness and Library Work edited by Miranda Dube and Carrie Wade. 2021.
    This collection of essays analyzes the relationship between mental illness and library work through both personal narrative and critical theory. In particular, the collection considers how mental illness and library work intersect with issues of labor, class, race, culture, ability, stigma, and identity. Overall, it aims to destigmatize conversations around mental illness in LIS and support practitioners experiencing mental illness throughout the profession. Available online through UIUC.

LIS Curriculum

  • Empowered to Name, Inspired to Act: Social Responsibility and Diversity as Calls to Action in the LIS Context by Sarah T. Roberts and Safiya Umoja Noble. Library Trends 64(3). 2016.
    This article analyzes two principal tenets of LIS as defined by the ALA, Social Responsibility and Diversity, as they are represented in LIS education. The authors find that despite the importance of these tenets, they remain at the margins of LIS education with limited engagement from students and faculty. As such, they propose that Social Responsibility and Diversity should be better integrated into the LIS classroom and research through dialog on social inequality and injustice as well as faculty engagement in activism so that LIS students are empowered to commit to Social Responsibility and Diversity in their future careers. Accessible through UIUC.
  • Humanizing LIS Education and Practice: Diversity by Design edited by Karen Dali and Nadia Caidi. 2021.
    This book approaches diversity in a systemic way, arguing that it must form an integral framework within both LIS education and practice. It contains case studies with practice models from various LIS practitioners engaged in topics such as the decolonization of LIS education, professional development in diversity and social justice, and creating an equitable reading landscape. The intended audience is both LIS educators and practitioners, making it a relevant text for everyone working in LIS. Available in-print at UIUC.
  • Social Justice Design and Implementation in Library and Information Science edited by Bharat Mehra. 2022.
    This collection presents a series of case studies that have successfully implemented social justice as a designed strategy in their organizations and communities. The case studies cover a wide range of locations, from rural to international, and information organizations, including academic, public, school, and special libraries, museums, and archives. Topics covered by the case studies include social wellbeing, food justice movements, inclusive course design, and homelessness. Available online through UIUC.
  • Teaching for Justice: Implementing Social Justice in the LIS Classroom edited by Nicole A. Cooke and Miriam E. Sweeney. 2017.
    This book contains essays by LIS practitioners who employ social justice frameworks in their courses. The audience for the collection is LIS faculty and instructors who are interested in introducing social justice concepts into their curricula using tried-and-true pedagogical methods. Topics include critical race theory, cultural humility, sustainability theory, and feminist pedagogy. Available online through UIUC.