No Previous Model
A History of the Office of the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian at University of Wisconsin
Author: Karla Strand
Expected: Early 2021
This is the first book-length history of the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian (GWSL) at the University of Wisconsin. This unique position was established in 1977 after several years of requests from Wisconsin faculty, librarians, and scholars for a librarian who was also an expert in the growing field of women’s studies. With this volume, Karla Strand presents a comprehensive history of the GWSL and offers a valuable example of the interdependent spirit of women’s studies and the value of collective action for the empowerment of women.
Through collection of oral histories and exploration of decades of records, the book will preserve the 40+ year legacy of the librarian and will situate the position, and women’s studies librarianship more generally, within the context of women’s studies as a discipline. By interrogating the position through critical librarianship, race, and feminist lenses, Strand presents the GWSL as a model of social justice-focused librarianship but one that is not without its flaws. She challenges the notion of library neutrality while emphasizing the importance of collaboration with historically underserved and underrepresented populations including those outside the university population. This is an important, one-of-a-kind contribution to the histories of libraries, higher education, and women’s studies in the United States.
Karla J. Strand has been the fifth Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian for the University of Wisconsin System since 2013. With a background in history and women’s studies, Strand received her MLIS from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her doctorate in Information Science from University of Pretoria (South Africa). Strand is a contributing columnist to Ms. Magazine blog, where she writes about the role of information and knowledge in the empowerment of women and girls around the world as well as – of course – about books.