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Inclusive Pedagogy for Library Instruction


This relatively short book is another excellent source for instructor librarians. In discussions about the genesis of the book, the authors pose the question, “Would ideas that didn’t always lead directly to outcomes find a home in our profession?” What a refreshing question to consider in the context of library instruction. This book represents a very comfortable home from which librarians consider the praxis approach, problem-based learning, and the necessity and possibilities of critique. It includes the work of librarian-practitioners, as well as librarians and scholars who are developing critical information literacy praxis and, recognizes those scholars who have established the relevance of critical pedagogy to library instruction.

The book is arranged into 5 sections that can be read in any order, starting at any point.

  1. Conceptual Toolkit – can be used to “jumpstart the librarian seeking new ways to conceptualize library instruction”
  2. Classroom Toolkit – blends theoretical approaches with concrete lesson plans and classroom strategies
  3. Teaching in Context – presents approaches to critical library instruction in specific settings – service learning, community colleges, and high school partnerships
  4. Unconventional Texts – presents strategies for teaching from a range of alternative media, including a thought-provoking use of comics
  5. Institutional Power – aims to critique problems of institutional power

Accardi, Drabinski and Kumbier want their “collection of provocative challenges to contemporary practice” to spur more dialog. Randomly selecting one chapter from each section might be a fun way for instructor librarians to engage colleagues in discussions about critical library instruction, especially those who are new to the issues.

Tags: Theoretical; Practical; Critical Information Literacy

Armstrong (chair of women and gender studies at Lafayette College) uses a series of thoughtful questions to make a case that inclusivity can work in any classroom, regardless of discipline, course content or student population. The author recognizes that diversity and inclusivity are complex topics on university campuses, but instructors can make a difference by implementing pedagogical methods in their classroom. The article recognizes that vastness of research on inclusivity in teaching and learning and describes several well-known texts, such as Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do. The author also offers some simple common practices that can work in any classroom, including 1) Bring inclusivity into your syllabus and assignments, such as respectful behavior 2) Learn how to pronounce names correctly and discover the cultural background of students 3) Be aware of your own cultural references and how those affect others 4) Be aware of the cultural references and language jargon in your own discipline 5) Ask for feedback from the students and 6) Research your university’s statements and commitments to diversity. The strength of this article is its application to any discipline, including library instruction.

Tags: Practical; Foundational Work

Considine, et al. focuses on how to incorporate inclusive excellence into college classrooms. They define and explain diversity and inclusion as well as the history, theories, and strategies that shape culturally-relevant pedagogy. The approaches to inclusive teaching include 1) Non-verbal immediacy, 2) Active-learning, 3) Trusting the community of learners, and 4) Peer teachers. They address impediments to inclusive excellence, such as low incentives to incorporate changes, pragmatism, and threats to self-concept. However, the greatest barrier other than time is that these principles are being advocated by instructors, who lack the political power and pull to change institutions systematically. Thus, instructor agency will be needed to incorporate these theories and practices into their classroom in tandem with the creation of coalitions of practitioners who will work toward inclusive excellence.

This article has many implications for library instruction: it requires forethought in instruction design, it requires that instructors reflect on their mindset and familiarity with inclusive pedagogy, and the approaches mentioned within the article can be interpreted and embedded into library instruction sessions. However, this article has limited coverage of the intersectional barriers that come into play with student and professor interactions.

Tags: Theoretical; Practical; Foundational Work; Stereotype Threat

Galvan makes a compelling argument that, despite diversity initiatives, librarianship continues to be overwhelming white because our recruitment and hiring system is designed to value whiteness, which in this essay is defined as “white, heterosexual, capitalist, and middle class.” Galvan highlights barriers that manifest as early as college as well as the ways the profession reinforces them. The article concludes with thoughtful list of ways that librarians, particularly white librarians, can interrogate whiteness and bias that exists in our recruitment, hiring, and retention practices. It is important for inclusive pedagogy practices that instructional librarianship become more diverse and this piece provides practical considerations for how to accomplish this goal. Further, Galvan provides a good model of interrogating whiteness and bias that can also be applied to pedagogical practice in order to create more inclusive library instruction.

Tags: Practical; Foundational Work

Gannon questions how higher education institutions are addressing the disparities with degree completion rates for black and Hispanic students. He posits that one way to solve the problem is an institutional emphasis on inclusive teaching and that pedagogy should be at the center of such efforts. Commitment to inclusive teaching includes 1) Treat all students equitably 2) Students have full access to learning and appropriate tools 3) All students feel welcomed, support and valued. Inclusive teaching benefits all students and it values course design, discernment and a sense of belonging. The article makes a strong case for institutions to make a long-lasting commitment to inclusive pedagogy that applies across the board to all disciplines, including library instruction. The description and definition of inclusive pedagogy is very helpful to the novice reader and provides an excellent introduction to the topic. Librarians would need to interpret the author’s suggestions of how to implement inclusive teaching methods and devise strategies that work in a library instruction session.

Tags: Practical; Foundational Work

This article reexamines one of the core values of libraries and librarians, defined by the ALA as the “highest level of service to all library users,” considering the service provided to the white working class in the United States. The author, Kathleen de la Peña McCook, cites specific examples of this particular class (e.g. union members, drug-addicted individuals, and veterans), providing historical and current boundaries to inclusive service and respectful interaction. She also offers practical and constructive examples for building improved relations plus an attached copy of the ALA Policy Statement, Library Services to the Poor as an Appendix. Despite the dated and insensitive title, the ALA Policy Statement provides fifteen sound recommendations to address the lack of effectiveness of traditional services for these constituencies.

Although this article concentrates on public library services, the emphasis on education and civil discourse is certainly applicable to academic libraries. While many of the students on a largely undergraduate liberal arts campus may not belong to the constituent groups specifically mentioned, it is certainly possible that family members are part of those groups. In addition, campus faculty and staff may belong to these constituent groups.

Tags: Practical; Inclusion; Diversity

In Moule’s primer, the focus in chapter 3 is dedicated to unconscious bias, unintentional racism, and micro-aggressions. She highlights the hard work of honesty, overcoming fears, and reprogramming responses and digs into how to do so.

The chapter makes room for connections and reflections, how to address stereotypical and prejudicial statements with steps and examples, and lastly provides applicable classroom activities. This could be enlightening as well as practical for librarians as they do their own foundational reflection and equips them with the tools to address problematic statements made in the classroom.

Tags: Foundational Work; Practical; Microaggressions

Cultural Competence: A Primer for Educators is an excellent resource and it should be read by all types and levels of educators, including librarians. Chapter 4, “Understanding Privilege and Racial Consciousness among Whites,” is a challenging and powerful article. The chapter examines the concept of White privilege, including the ways that European Americans are afforded certain benefits and rights based solely on the color of their skin. The author also points out how it is difficult for Whites to acknowledge the existence of such privilege. Throughout the chapter, the concepts of racial consciousness and how Whites think about race and racial differences are explored. For example, “White” and “American” has become synonymous in many people’s minds. Numerous examples are provided that demonstrate how White privilege is infused into the very fabric of American Society. In order to acknowledge white privilege, Whites need to take personal responsibility to change and grow, including becoming aware of and working through unconscious feelings and beliefs about one’s connections to race and ethnicity. The author also includes a description of identity development in the college classroom. Educators need to be aware of the existence of white privilege and its influence on teacher-student behavior. If white educators can acknowledge the centrality of race to a non-white student and grasp the nature of their own attitudes and about racial differences, the cultural distance between them can be reduced. One of the best attributes of this chapter is the inclusion of two reflection exercises, “Becoming Aware of Race” and “Costs of Racism to White People.” Librarians will greatly benefit from completing the exercises and reflecting upon them. Highly recommended.

Tags: Practical; Theoretical; Foundational Work; Structural Racism; Microaggressions

This book contains thorough descriptions of basic concepts of cross-cultural teaching and includes a set of principles for inclusive teaching. Topics include cultural competence, unintentional bias and racism, ethnocentricity, microaggressions, privilege, bias in curriculum delivery, etc. Chapters on working with specific ethnic and religious communities are especially timely. Chapter 2, “Understanding Racism and Prejudice” outlines the differences between racism and prejudice and further defines the various types of racism that hamper real inclusiveness in the classroom. The author defines individual, institutional and cultural racism and addresses the issues of intent and denial. Each section is followed by a helpful discussion of the implications for teachers. While the work is geared toward the K-12 classroom, examples of teaching strategies, typical classroom scenarios, and a comprehensive bibliography make this book a good resource for librarians new to these topics.

Tags: Foundational Work; Practical

This companion volume to Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook, Volume 1, edited by Pagowsky (Associate Librarian and Instruction Coordinator at the University of Arizona Libraries) and McElroy (Student Engagement and Community Outreach Librarian at Oregon State University Libraries & Press) provides thirty sample lesson plans to illustrate how critical pedagogy can be used in library instruction. In her forward, Safiya Umoja Noble notes this volume’s importance as a “collection of clear and direct pedagogical practices that can be implemented in a variety of classroom settings, in the context of a commitment to social justice and transformative engagement” (vii). This volume’s emphasis on praxis will be especially useful to those librarians who prefer practical applications over theory. Each lesson plan includes an introduction, learning outcomes, materials, preparation, session instructions, assessment, reflections, a final question, and a bibliography. The lessons address different instructional scenarios, but are always sensitive to the limitations of the one-shot.

Of particular note for inclusive pedagogy are chapters 1 (“Mapping Power and Privilege in Scholarly Conversations,” Wallis), 2 (“Moving Students to the Center through Collaborative Documents in the Classroom,” Smale and Francoeur), 6 (“Speaking Up: Using Feminist Pedagogy to Raise Critical Questions in the Information Literacy Classroom,” Ladenson), 9 (“Critical Engagement with Number and Images,” Photinos), 10 (“Critical Consciousness and Search: An Introductory Visualization,” Polkinghorne), and 20 (“From Traditional to Critical: Highlighting Issues of Injustice and Discrimination through Primary Sources,” Carbery and Leahy).

Tags: Practical; Critical Information Literacy

Gina Schlesselman-Tarango (library instruction coordinator at California State University San Bernardino) and Frances Suderman teach students about the types of information sources that emerge and flow from a critical event. Sources that developed from the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman are presented to show how time and “sociohistorical context” impact those sources.

This lesson plan offers a varied list of sources and a useful “Deep Reading Handout” with provocative questions for small group discussion to be paired with a list of deeper questions for a larger group of students.

Tags: Practical; Critical Information Literacy

This article provides a helpful definition and typology of microaggressions. Whereas most microaggression literature relies on retrospective interviews with student and faculty who perpetrated or were victims of microaggressions, this study incorporates actual classroom observation of microaggressions in real-time. This article can serve as a guide for library instructors who are seeking to learn how to avoid committing microaggressions or to detect microaggressions in the classroom. However, this article does not lend much in the way of classroom strategies for resolving the conflict created by microaggressions. The authors stress that the article focuses specifically on microaggressions that occur at community colleges. It is worth noting that the character and nature of microaggressions described in the study might vary from those found in other educational settings.

Tags: Practical; Microaggressions

This qualitative study ties the difficult conversations and experiences students have when racial micro-aggressions appear in the classroom. Touchy dialogues are fueled by strong emotions, personal histories, and worldview that are often difficult for students and instructors to participate in. When these conversations are not adequately facilitated the dignity of students of color is abused and the biased and privileged worldview of white students are upheld. The overall impact of a race dialogue hinges on the mindset, preparation, and facilitation of the instructor.

The article does present specific ways in which teachers can pursue professional development and approaches that can ease these difficult dialogues. The articles are foundational for the understanding of micro-aggressions and their prevalence in the classroom learning environment. This article has implications that can be quite insightful for instructors/librarians.

Tags: Foundational Work; Practical; Microaggressions

This web page features a collection of links to online resources that define inclusive teaching and provide specific strategies for practicing it. Although some are specific to the University of Michigan, most are applicable to anyone in higher education who is seeking information on inclusive teaching. The links range from the theoretical to the practical. There is some redundancy.

While nothing is specific to the library or information fluency, there is much to be gleaned for librarians. Links that were especially helpful were:

Overview of Inclusive Teaching at the University of Michigan: Contains an excellent definition of inclusive teaching and has 5 questions the instructor in any academic discipline can ask themselves to examine their teaching. Includes four educational insights from recent research about bias and systemic inequities in teaching and learning. The brevity of this introduction is helpful.

Framework and Strategies for Inclusive Teaching: This is a checklist of 56 practical strategies for inclusive teaching in content, instructional practices, instructor-student interactions and student-student interactions. Running through these is a way to reflect on your practice and your class, and remind yourself of what you’d like to include in the future.

The Research Basis for Inclusive Teaching: This webpage provides an overview of the kinds of evidence that demonstrate inclusive teaching practices can benefit all students' learning. This is more theoretical than practical, but good to have a short, curated list, with links to full text.

Tags: Practical; Stereotype Threat

Haruko Yamauchi, faculty librarian at CUNY Hostos Community College, incorporates a critique of library classification systems (Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress) into the practice of searching for books, finding and using physical books, and evaluating books as sources. Students are given room to question the power and limits of the choices made to organize books in a system.

This hands-on activity can be performed with actual or substitute books and includes small group and class discussion with a focus on questioning.

Tags: Practical; Critical Information Literacy

Ying Zhong (NSME and Web Librarian at California State University - Bakersfield) provides an excellent overview of Universal Design for Learning and its application to library instruction. A survey-based study is presented that examines student learning styles in two English courses. A lesson plan that incorporates UDL strategies to teach search skills and Boolean logic is shared. Shows the benefits that apply to a wide array of learning styles with the use of UDL teaching practices.

Tags: Practical; Inclusion

The Inclusive Pedagogy for Library Instruction project (IP4LI) is a collaboration of librarians from several small, liberal arts colleges to discover resources and best practices for applying inclusive pedagogy in library instruction settings, particularly one-shot sessions. It is supported by a grant from the Associated Colleges of the South.
Birmingham-Southern College Davidson College Furman University Sewanee - The University of the South University of Richmond Washington & Lee University