Voices on the Margins: Libraries, Community Agency, and Black Public Spheres
Keywords:Public libraries, Dr. Elfreda Chatman, Black library professionals & patrons, and agency
Scholars of library and information sciences have addressed the critical roles of libraries in energizing the public sphere, or the social spaces in which ideas and opinions are exchanged. But seldom is the discussion of race, racism, and marginalization examined in public libraries. The concept of the public sphere represents a critical foundation for examining the roles libraries play in illuminating voices in the civic culture of a society. Who is the public, and why are their voices important? How can libraries respond to the reconfiguration of contemporary publics? How should libraries engage in the production, organization, and distribution of information access? Drawing from public sphere perspectives, this paper explores not just how libraries can be more responsive to the changing political, economic, social and educational climates of the 21st century, but also how expanded conceptualization of public roles might contribute to democratic revitalization.
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