Libraries Promoting Reflective Dialogue in a Time of Political Polarization—eEditions PDF e-book

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors

As political polarization has continued to grow within and beyond the United States in past decades, the challenges of engaging in open and constructive dialogue have become increasingly apparent. The effects of this tension are evident in numerous aspects of library work, including interactions and relationships in our local contexts and in our larger professional community, as well as all areas of the library—classrooms, collections, technology, management, programming, LIS programs, and library spaces.

Reflective dialogue asks us to pause before reacting, to ground ourselves in a sense of compassion for ourselves and others, and to use that grounding to open a space to listen and to speak with the goal of recognizing a shared humanity and appreciating difference. In four sections, Libraries Promoting Reflective Dialogue in a Time of Political Polarization explores the various ways in which librarians experience and respond to political polarization and its effects, both in our everyday work and in our professional communities:

  • Libraries as Dialogic Spaces: Limits and Possibilities
  • Dialogue amid Polarization and Extreme Skepticism: Challenges and Opportunities
  • Special Collections and Archives: Past and Present in Conversation
  • The Information Literacy Classroom: Uneasy Questions, Creative Responses

Divisive times can spark positive social change with more intentional reflection, listening, and empathy across social groups and identities. Libraries Promoting Reflective Dialogue in a Time of Political Polarization can be a catalyst and a resource for reflective and constructive dialogue, and a prompt for asking hard and sometimes uncomfortable questions about what reflective dialogue is, what forms it might take and in what contexts, who it does or does not include, and what its possibilities and limitations are.

A companion website to the book can be found at

Jonathan Cope

Andrea Baer, Ellysa Stern Cahoy, and Robert Schroeder

Chapter 1. Creating Meaningful Engagement in Academic Libraries Using Principles of Intergroup Dialogue
Ione T. Damasco

Chapter 2. Reflective Dialogue across Differences in Libraries
Kelly McElroy and Lindsay Marlow

Chapter 3. Confronting the Limits of Dialogue: Charlottesville, 2017
Abby Flanigan, Dave Ghamandi, Phylissa Mitchell, and Erin Pappas

Chapter 4. What It Means to Be Out: Queer, Trans, and Gender Nonconforming Identities in Library Work
Zoe Fisher, Stephen Krueger, Robin Goodfellow Malamud, and Ericka Patillo

Chapter 5. “You Shall Listen to All Sides and Filter Them from Yourself”: Information Literacy and “Post-truth” Skepticism
Christopher A. Sweet, Jeremy L. Shermak, and Troy A. Swanson

Chapter 6. Sociology of Information Disorder: An Annotated Syllabus for Informed Citizens
Hailey Mooney

Chapter 7. Climate Change Conversations in Libraries (A Sabbatical Training Adventure)
Madeleine Charney

Chapter 8. Not Tolerating Intolerance: Unpacking Critical Pedagogy in Classrooms and Conferences
Spencer Brayton and Natasha Casey

Chapter 9. “TRUTH Always Wins”: Dispatches from the Information War
Sarah Hartman-Caverly

Chapter 10. Between Accession and Secession: Political Mayhem and Archival Transparency in Charleston, South Carolina
Aaisha Haykal, Barrye Brown, and Mary Jo Fairchild

Chapter 11. Red Shirts and Citizens’ Councils: Special Collections and Information Literacy in the College Classroom
Nathan Saunders

Chapter 12. “The Earth Is Flat” and Other Thresholds: A Critically Reflective Cross-disciplinary Conversation in the Post-truth Era
Sara D. Miller, Gabriel J. Ording, Eric D. Tans, and Claudia E. Vergara

Chapter 13. The John Oliver Effect: Using Political Satire to Encourage Critical-Thinking Skills in Information Literacy Instruction
Sebastian Krutkowski

Chapter 14. Indignation in Political Discourse: Thoughts toward an Information Literacy Curriculum
Mark Lenker

Chapter 15. No Such Thing as Neutral: Rethinking Undergraduate Instruction and Outreach in a Time of “Post-truth”
Holly Luetkenhaus, Cristina Colquhoun, and Matt Upson

Chapter 16. Open Educational Practices and Reflective Dialogue: The Role of the Framework for Information Literacy
Craig Gibson and Trudi E. Jacobson

About the Authors

Andrea Patricia Baer

Andrea Patricia Baer is the History and Political Sciences Librarian at Rowan University. She holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Washington and a master’s in information sciences from the University of Tennessee. Andrea’s work in libraries and education is informed by her prior teaching experience in writing and literature and by her interests in writing studies, critical pedagogy, and reflective practice. She is the author of Information Literacy and Writing Studies in Conversation (2016).

Robert Schroeder

Robert Schroeder is Professor Emeritus at Portland State University, where he was a faculty member/librarian and AAUP union member. He was the liaison to the School of Education, the Urban Honors College, the University Studies (general education classes) in local high schools, and the McNair Scholar and Summer Bridge programs. His recent research interests include critical librarianship, Indigenous and autoethnographic research methods, and the ways (his) social class and (his) identity interact with (his experience of) the academy. Schroeder is coeditor of ACRL's The Self as Subject: Autoethnographic Research into Identity, Culture, and Academic Librarianship (2017).

Ellysa Stern Cahoy

Ellysa Stern Cahoy is an education librarian and Assistant Director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book in the Penn State University Libraries at University Park. A former children’s librarian and school library media specialist, Ms. Cahoy has published research and presented on information literacy, evidence-based librarianship, affective learning, and personal archiving. In 2014, she was awarded a $440,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund the further exploration of faculty’s personal scholarly workflow practices and needs (building upon the work of a 2012 grant). Her article (coauthored with Smiljana Antonijevic), “Personal Library Curation: An Ethnographic Study of Scholars’ Information Practices,” received the 2014 Best Article Award from the journal portal: Libraries and the Academy. Ms. Cahoy is a past chair of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Instruction Section and in 2013 received the Instruction Section’s Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award.