Journal Club: Critical librarianship in health sciences libraries: An introduction

Meeting Date: July 24, 2019

Presenter: Michelle Dalidowicz

Citation: Barr-Walker J, Sharifi C. Critical librarianship in health sciences libraries: an introduction. Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA. 2019;107(2):258-64. DOI: 10.5195/jmla.2019.620
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6466494/

Article Abstract:

The Medical Library Association recently announced its commitment to diversity and inclusion. While this is a positive start, critical librarianship takes the crucial concepts of diversity and inclusion one step further by advocating for social justice action and the dismantling of oppressive institutional structures, including white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism. Critical librarianship takes many forms, but, at its root, is focused on interrogating and disrupting inequitable systems, including changing racist cataloging rules, creating student-driven information literacy instruction, supporting inclusive and ethical publishing models, and rejecting the notion of libraries as neutral spaces. This article presents examples of the application of critical practice in libraries as well as ideas for applying critical librarianship to the health sciences.

Critical Appraisal:

Questions:

1) Critical Librarianship is usually defined as applying the principles of social justice to our work as librarians. Is there anything that you would add to that definition?

2) In undergrad or in post grad, did you ever receive instruction on critical studies? Do you feel comfortable engaging with it as part of your work?

3) What would critical medical librarianship look like and what might it encompass (e.g. social justice, health disparities)?

4) Do you feel like you are already using critical librarianship in your health library practice?

5) Different areas of library work and how they can be affected by critical librarianship were touched upon in the article. Were there areas which you felt could be more readily changed in your library practice than others and how would you like to be able to do so?

5a) Were there areas of library work you think were missing that could be found in critical health librarianship?

6) Are there ways that we, as health librarians, make choices in our work that go against critical librarianship ideals?

7) What are ways that we can use critical librarianship in our health libraries right now to encourage social justice critical thinking and engagement in our patrons?