Narratives of (Dis)Enfranchisement: Reckoning with the History of Libraries and the Black and African American Experience—eEditions PDF e-book

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  • Description
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This first Special Report in a two-volume set on Black and African Americans’ experiences in libraries provides an overview of their historical exclusion from libraries and educational institutions in the United States, also exploring the ways in which this legacy is manifest in our contemporary context. A compelling call to action, it will serve as the beginning of many conversations in which librarianship reckons with its racist past to move towards a more equitable future.

Still a predominantly white profession, librarianship has a legacy of racial discrimination, and it is essential that we face the ways that race impacts how we meet the needs of diverse user communities. Identifying and acknowledging implicit and learned bias is a necessary step toward transforming not only our professional practice but also our scholarship, assessment, and evaluation practices. From this Special Report, readers will

  • learn the hidden history of Africa’s contributions to libraries and educational institutions, which are often omitted from K-12, higher education, and library school curricula;
  • engage with the racist legacies of libraries as well as contemporary scholarship related to Black and African American users’ experiences with libraries;
  • be introduced to frameworks and theories that can help to identify and unpack the role of race in librarianship and in library users’ experiences; and
  • garner practical takeaways to bring to their own views and practice of librarianship.


Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. The African Roots of Education and Librarianship
Chapter 3. Public Libraries
Chapter 4. School Libraries
Chapter 5. Academic Libraries
Chapter 6. Frameworks for Exploring Race and Libraries
Chapter 7. Conclusion


Tracey Overbey

Tracey Overbey is assistant professor and Social Sciences Librarian at The Ohio State University Libraries. She earned a master’s degree in library information science from the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests include issues related to food desert communities and educating and exposing marginalized students to information literacy using library resources. She won an organizational award for implementing a seed library at The Ohio State University Libraries for students to come and obtain seeds from the library, to plant fresh produce within their residence halls. This initiative helped those students and faculty who live in food desert communities. She has also won state and local grants that expose students who live within economically strained communities to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) resources through programming and hands-on explorations. In addition, she serves on the Executive Board for the Black Caucus American Library Association, has published in Public Library Quarterly, and presented conference papers at the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conferences.

Amanda L. Folk

Amanda L. Folk is an assistant professor and head of the Teaching & Learning Department at The Ohio State University Libraries. She earned her PhD in social and comparative analysis in education from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education. Her research interests include exploring the sociocultural nature of information literacy and implications for teaching and learning, as well as examining the academic and library experiences of student populations that have traditionally been marginalized in higher education in the United States. In addition to serving as the editor in chief for The Journal of Academic Librarianship, she has been published in College & Research Libraries, portal: Libraries and the Academy, College & Undergraduate Libraries, the Journal of Library Administration, and International Information & Library Review. She was the recipient of the 2020 ACRL Instruction Section’s Ilene F. Rockman Instruction Publication of the Year Award.

"[This] unflinching report emphasizes there’s a naïve perception that everything automatically improves for BIPOC users, who battle discrimination daily, when they enter the library. The authors acknowledge that individual libraries and librarians are working hard to affect change, but their findings indicate that the library system is among the American institutions that were never built for users of color—especially Black people— to thrive ... Essential reading, discussion, and action for everyone who works within the library industry."
— Library Journal (starred review)

"The authors have stimulated a meaningful dialogue that is, quite frankly, long overdue in addressing several critical issues within the LIS profession. Both reports speak to topics such as systemic racism and white supremacy, confronting whiteness in American libraries, and instilling and promoting antiracist principles and values within our work environments ... Folk and Overbey’s research provides LIS professionals with tools and resources to enhance equity-centered work. I highly recommend both reports. I also strongly recommend that this research be included as a part of the LIS curriculum to educate the next generation of librarians, and that it be used as a professional development resource for current librarians and administrators. These reports offer the LIS community an opportunity to engage in thoughtful conversations about the state of our profession and to learn from the experiences of Black and African American library users, who have been historically excluded from our institutions, and often underserved."
— College & Research Libraries