Progressive Community Action
Critical Theory and Social Justice in Library and Information Science
Editors: Bharat Mehra and Kevin Rioux
Published: May 2016
Social justice in library and information science (LIS) seeks to achieve action-oriented, socially relevant impacts through information work. This edited volume includes papers that explore intersections between critical theory and social justice in LIS while focusing on social relevance and community involvement to promote progressive community-wide changes. Contributors include LIS researchers, practitioners, educators, social justice advocates, and community leaders who identify theories, methods, approaches, strategies, and case studies that apply these intersections in mobilizing community action to deliver tangible community building and development outcomes.
Demonstrating and articulating these community outcomes are particularly important today, as stakeholders increasingly require LIS professionals to provide evidence of relevance and accountability. This timely book offers a unique perspective in identifying what LIS professions are doing (or can do) in the contemporary context of the 21st century.
The critical theoretical base of the book frames a proactive, less-traditional concept of the LIS professional. It showcases and markets LIS in new ways that highlight its role in taking progressive social actions, bringing positive community changes, and developing relevant community services.
The frame of study is inclusive of (though not limited to) academic, public, school, and special libraries, museums, archives, and other information-related settings. An international context of analysis is included along with a focus on social impact and community involvement in LIS practice and research, education, policy development, service design, and program implementation.
About the editors:
Dr. Bharat Mehra is Associate Professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee. His research furthers diversity and intercultural communication and addresses social justice and social equity agendas to meet the needs of minority and underserved populations (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people; racial and ethnic minorities; international communities; low-income families; rural residents; amongst others). He has applied conceptual frameworks in LIS (e.g., human information behavior, information seeking and use, social informatics, etc.) in combination with interdisciplinary approaches from critical theory, feminist and cross-cultural studies, postcolonial literature, race and gender research, and community informatics or the use of information and communication technologies to enable and empower disenfranchised communities to bring changes in their socio-cultural, sociopolitical, and socioeconomic circumstances. Drawing on the intersections between the research-teaching-service missions in the American academy, Mehra’s work helps to re-conceptualize institutions of higher learning in an expanded capacity of community engagement to partner with people on the margins of society to bring significant changes in their everyday lives.
Kevin Rioux, PhD, is Associate Professor of Library and Information Science at St. John’s University, New York. In his teaching and research, he uses social justice metatheory, information behavior frameworks, and integrated human development models to explore issues related to information access and information technologies as tools of social and economic development in both local and international contexts. Rioux is also a Senior Vincentian Research Fellow and is on the faculty of St. John’s Center for Global Development, which offers a hybrid Rome-based M.A. program in global development and social justice. His work with the Center involves supporting graduate curricula and research on the causes of poverty and social injustice in urban areas, slave labor practices, human migration, education, gendered health issues, food security, and sustainable development.