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Monthly Archives: June 2016

The danger of academic elitism in libraries

One of the benefits of working for a Jesuit institution is having the opportunity, encouragement, and strategically-justified resources to engage in social justice work, both within the library, within the university, and in my community. However, having also worked within an institution where neoliberal ideals ran rampant, I understand Nisha Mody’s fear:

“But now that I am fully immersed in this deep dive, I also see the danger of academic elitism, an elitism which underpays adjunct professors and reflects neoliberal ideals. Will being an academic librarian make it difficult for me to effect change in the “real world” because I am so entrenched in academic lingo? Will lengthening my CV remove myself from applying the principles I promote? I often question if being a part of the academy will distance myself from those that are marginalized. So…do I still want to do this?”

The rest of the post on HackLibSchool is a worthwhile read and a good reminder for us old folks about the passions that drove us to library science in the first place.

Truth with a capital “t”

So long as we rely on code and algorithms to locate information, there will always be the hurdle of implicit bias. The same can be said of relying on humans.

“As long as Google has a commercial interest in appearing omniscient, it probably won’t work to improve knowledge panel transparency. That burden will fall instead to people like Taraborelli and nonprofits like the Wikimedia Foundation, which is working on an open-license, machine-readable knowledge base that will both source all of its statements and accommodate conflicting sources.”

The burden also falls to librarians and educators to teach the skills necessary for being a critical reader-researcher.