April 3, 2014

Introducing #critlib chats!

Tuesday night marked the first #critlib chat we had on Twitter to talk about critical pedagogy in libraries. Myself and the awesome @barnlib, @catladylib, @edrabinski, and @kellymce  organized the chat, and I served as moderator for this week. I'm really excited that these are happening, because not only is it important to talk about this stuff, but selfishly, I've been really wanting there to be something like this for awhile.

We created a cheat sheet for the chats to provide information about upcoming topics, how the chats work, and then to post the questions in real time as a reference point beyond the constantly updating Twitter hashtag feed. It's pretty fast paced to do these Twitter chats, and can make having in-depth conversations difficult, but it is a good entry point, is fairly accessible, and open to all. We had a good amount of people participating and some excellent conversations going. It's helpful to have 3 tabs open for this: the cheat sheet, the hashtag feed on Twitter, and then your own notifications feed to make it easy to reply to people without losing #critlib. Thanks to @aszingarelli, we also now have a Storify you can check out to see how the conversation went.

For this first meeting, we mostly talked about definitions. What is critical pedagogy, and what is critical library pedagogy? How do you incorporate critical pedagogy in your library instruction and in other aspects of library work? It was a good first meeting to establish a somewhat common understanding, and provide more context for those who are interested but don't feel comfortable participating yet. Some people mentioned they were just going to lurk, and I think that's great there is so much interest. I hope the chat will make everyone more comfortable sharing their thoughts, it's not meant to be a judgmental place or where anyone assumes they're an expert.

We posted Gregory & Higgins' intro to Information Literacy and Social Justice as supplemental reading since they introduce the concept very well. I was reading Toni Samek's foreword to the book as well, and thought what she said about risk was important:
We should not underestimate the collective will of projects like this one. Each contributor should be thanked for the risk they take on the page. I have, on a number of occasions, said publicly that information literacy is far too often realized in service of the state. This is rarely a popular observation. (And so I have been told.) But for almost twenty full years I have worked under the protection of my right and responsibility of academic freedom. The same cannot be said for all of the seventeen chapter contributors to this work. I admire them for their conviction (2013, vii).
This is important to think about, as these might not be popular opinions. It is somewhat of a risk to discuss these things, particularly for those who are not in tenured positions. So it's great to have a place to chat to support others with these similar convictions. We hope more will join us next time. Tuesday, April 7th will be the second #critlib, and then we will be moving to every other week after that.

Also see our Zotero group with further resources and readings (some of these might wind up being readings for future chats).

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