Liberatory Librarianship: Stories of Community, Connection, and Justice

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors

Contributors representing a variety of contexts demonstrate the ways in which libraries can leverage their systems and resources to support the work of underrepresented, minoritized, or marginalized people to increase freedom, justice, community, and broader awareness.

How can librarianship be liberatory? How does librarianship help people to be free? How is library capacity and expertise used to increase freedom, justice, and community? This invigorating collected volume from Core unpacks these questions, and many others besides, to reveal the many ways that library workers and their institutions are applying skills, knowledge, abilities, professional ethics, and personal commitment to practice liberatory librarianship. These examples will serve as guideposts and inspiration for readers undertaking their own efforts. With a special emphasis on the voices of non-white practitioners, the themes and stories explored in this volume include

  • histories of several liberatory efforts, such as the Digital Library of the Caribbean’s (dLOC) open access repository of Caribbean and circum-Caribbean resources, restorative justice at the UK's SOAS Library, and examples of unsiloing DEI work;
  • the work of visionary, liberatory librarians such as Dr. Alma Jordan, Lillian Marrero, Rosa Quintero Mesa, and Judith Rogers;
  • innovative programs such as those at Oakland Public Library and Stanford University’s KNOW System Racism Project;
  • library instruction for college students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and a liberatory archival training program; and
  • the radical and liberatory power of empathy in librarianship for imagining and enacting change.

Read a blog post by co-editor Brian W. Keith now!


Part I: Liberatory Librarians

Chapter 1: Dr. Alma Jordan

Shamin Renwick

Chapter 2: Lillian Marrero: Sanctuary and Solidarity through Libraries

Tania María Ríos Marrero

Chapter 3: Rosa Quintero Mesa: The University of Florida’s Liberatory Librarianship Defied Global Politics

Richard Phillips

Chapter 4: Judith Rogers: Visionary and Organic Leader

Laurie Taylor

Part II: Programs That Support Liberation

Chapter 5: Liberatory Librarianship in a Public Library

Brian Boies

Chapter 6: The KNOW Systemic Racism Project at Stanford University

Felicia A. Smith

Part III: The Personal as Professional

Chapter 7: My Brother’s Keeper

Tiffany Grant, LaWanda Singleton, and Clementine Adeyemi

Chapter 8: Disabled in the Library

JJ Pionke

Part IV: Histories of Liberation

Chapter 9: Elevating Diverse Voices in Service of Liberatory Librarianship

Willa Liburd Tavernier, Ursula Romero, and Christina Jones 

Chapter 10: Unsiloed, Cross-Jurisdictional DEI

Tiffany J. Grant, Mikaila Corday, Michelle McKinney, Margaux Patel, Eira Tansey, and June Taylor-Slaughter

Chapter 11: Hidden Histories and Radical Reading Lists: Restorative Justice at SOAS Library

Farzana Qureshi and Ludi Price

Part V: Liberatory Instruction and Training

Chapter 12: “We Are . . . Library Users!”: Developing a Liberatory Library Instruction Program for College Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Bernadette A. Lear

Chapter 13: Critical Reflections on the University of Kentucky’s Basic Archives Workshop: Status Quo or Transformation?

Sarah Dorpinghaus and Ruth E. Bryan

Part VI: Imaging and Enacting Liberation Together

Chapter 14: Empathy as Resistance? The Concept of Empathy in Liberatory Librarianship

Sabine Jean Dantus

Appendix: Acronyms

About the Editors and Contributors


Brian W. Keith

Brian W. Keith, MLIS and MBA, is a professor and the dean of library services at Eastern Illinois University. Previously, he was associate dean and the university librarian at the University of Florida. Brian has envisioned and shaped libraries in terms of spaces, services, collections, and partnerships. He has an extensive record of professional accomplishment and national and international scholarship and service focusing on DEAIJ. He is a past recipient of the SirsiDynix—American Library Association & Allied Professional Association’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Promoting Salaries and Status for Library Workers, and he was an Association of Research Libraries Leadership Fellow.

Laurie Taylor

Laurie Taylor, PhD, is the associate university librarian for collections and discovery at the University of Connecticut Library. She was previously the senior director for library technology and digital strategies at the University of Florida, and the operational lead and digital scholarship director of the Digital Library of the Caribbean. In 2018, Laurie was named Caribbean Information Professional of the Year by the Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries.

Shamin Renwick

Shamin Renwick, MLIS, PhD, FCLIP, is a senior librarian II at the School of Education Library, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, and has served as director of library services at St. George’s University, Grenada. She has been a librarian for more than 36 years, 24 of them as an academic librarian. Renwick was awarded the ACURILEANA Star 2007 for research and publication and the ACURILEAN Medal for significant contributions to ACURIL (the Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries). In 2012, she was named an Outstanding Graduate of the 1980s of the Department of Library and Information Science, UWI Mona Campus.


The former Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), the Library Information Technology Association (LITA), and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) are now Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures, a new division of ALA. Its mission is to cultivate and amplify the collective expertise of library workers in core functions through community building, advocacy, and learning.