Building Our Own
Critiques, Narratives, and Practices by Community College Library Workers of Color
Editors: Amanda M. Leftwich and Eva M.L. Rios-Alvarado
Where and who are all the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community college librarians? BIPOC community college librarians provide unequaled and increasingly necessary support to their institutions. The BIPOC community college librarian is often disembodied and our work runs the spectrum between the visible and invisible. The added labor of being the “only” adds an extra layer of emotional, physical, and cognitive work that often goes unrecognized. The relationship between the library and student success has been thoroughly researched and assessed, however, the role of the community college librarian is often excluded. There is even more exclusion, forced invisibility, and censorship for the BIPOC LIS (library information services) worker.
Librarians, library workers, and libraries are part of the student success pathway. Library departments (services) provide distinct face-to-face and online access points for the campus community. Community colleges have long been the setting of fundamental education, workplace development, and life skills across the country for working class communities. Having been seen as a gateway to economic mobility, community college is an equalizer, unifier, and launching pad for student excellence and innovation. However, the student diversity of our campuses is not always representative of staff and faculty. Interestingly, student services / academic affairs units make up more BIPOC workers than instructional units within the institution. Some of the failures in the community college landscape today are the lack of BIPOC workers in the library department, emotional taxation, extra labor, structural racism, and tokenistic legacies. BIPOC librarian faculty have cultural taxation not captured in our tenure or acknowledged institutionally. BIPOC librarians’ work and labor in community colleges deserves to be amplified, documented, and valued. Our unity is our shared community of practice now and into the future.
Building Our Own provides perspectives in the form of critiques, reflections, narratives, frameworks, and pedagogies from a BIPOC lens. Editors are inspired to gather and curate a collection of work to reveal the realities of BIPOC library workers’ contributions, critical insights, and lived experiences in the community college setting. Building Our Own is part of the Series of Critical Race Studies and Multiculturalism in LIS with Litwin Books and Library Juice Press under the series editors, Rose L. Chou and Annie Pho. For more information on how to contribute, read and review the submission guidelines.