Yesterday the Washington Office welcomed Associate Professor Renate Chancellor of The Catholic University of America’s Department of Library and Information Science for a breakfast discussion on the history of library advocacy and activism. Her presentation spanned the decades, from the work of E.J. Josey to the legacies left and continued by Augusta Baker and Sandy Berman.
Dr. Chancellor led a discussion that covered luminary library activists and dived into issues in the profession, from intellectual freedom to diverse books to bias in subject headings. She also provided some insight about how her students are learning about activism in libraries, from her current cohort’s desire to talk about librarians’ foreseeable role in social justice issues happening on campuses and in neighborhoods across the country today, to the concepts of John Kingdon around becoming a “political entrepreneur,” a term which she defined as someone “who, from the outside of the formal position of government, introduce, translate, and help implement new ideas into public practice.”
At Catholic, Dr. Chancellor oversees the law librarianship program. Her research interests include legal information seeking behavior, social justice in library and information services, multicultural library and information services, and transformative leadership. She also writes and publishes on issues of diversity in the field. She is now working on a book about E.J. Josey—a pioneering librarian, instrumental in integrating the American Librarian Association and founding its Black Caucus—documenting his life as a civil rights activist and leader in the modern library profession.
The Washington Office appreciated the opportunity to hear Dr. Chancellor’s insights on a range of critical issues that have shaped the history of advocacy within the field.