IG Showcase: SCIL: “How do we advocate for underrepresented students?: A panel on how critical pedagogy and social justice value the student experience.”

Location: Santa Ana (first floor).

SCIL: How do we advocate for underrepresented students?: A panel on how critical pedagogy and social justice value the student experience


This panel will discuss how critical pedagogy can provide a framework for social justice not only in the library classroom, but also within the library, its resources, and services. The way our communities and students will view librarians and libraries in the future depends on how we reassert the value of student experiences in the learning process and how we advocate for safe spaces that support experimental thinking, creative learning, and open dialogue.


Panelists representing diverse academic institutions and backgrounds will aim to present various experiences and perspectives on how critical pedagogy is intertwined with and affects issues of social justice. While libraries are stereotypically seen as passive actors or, worse, as budgetary burdens within the latent capitalistic ventures of modern institutes of higher education, critical pedagogy provides the necessary theoretical framework for practices of disrupting anti-intellectual, neoliberal, and hegemonic views of academic life.


Librarians’ unique status allows them to advocate for underrepresented groups on college campuses. By existing on a middle ground within academia, librarians are poised to act on behalf of students and subvert the power structures that may oppress them. As revealed by the work of librarian Anne-Marie Deitering on reflective practice, library practitioners exist between omnipresent binaries of academic institutions. Students absorb a never-ending set of beliefs during college — ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’ information, scholarly and authoritative vs. amateurish and ignorant — that may inadvertently turn them away from their true pursuit of education.


The following questions may be used to stimulate dialogue during the panel:

  • What are some existing forms of oppression our students engage with at the academy?
  • How do librarians reinforce those systems of oppression in the classroom or inadvertently within library practices? How do our assumptions work their way into our teaching practices?
  • In what ways does your teaching fall into the “banking concept” of education? What have you done in the classroom to break out of, or dismantle, the banking model?
  • Do our collections and collecting practices assert hegemonic views of education and learning? If so, how can we work to incorporate critical pedagogy into our collection practices?
  • How does queer/feminist/racial theory work itself into your teaching practices?
  • What are some ways in which you design the classroom experience to be a democratic, collaborative, and transformative site?
  • How do we balance the lived experiences of our students with “canonical” sets of knowledge and skills that they are required to learn?
  • How do we provide a basis for a framework that asserts that authority is constructed and contextual in opposition to rote learning and peer-reviewed requirements?
  • How do you view your role as an academic librarian and its relationship to social justice?


Melissa Cardenas-Dow, Reference Librarian, University of California, Riverside

Mario Macias, Instruction and Reference Librarian, Pierce College

Stephanie Rosenblatt, Periodicals & Online Resources Coordinator, Cerritos College

Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Instructional Services and Initiatives Librarian, California State University, San Bernardino

Gayatri Singh, Reference & Information Services Coordinator, University of California, San Diego



Anthony Sanchez, Librarian, University of Arizona, Tucson

Talitha Matlin, STEM Librarian, California State University, San Marcos

Lua Gregory, First Year Experience Librarian, University of Redlands