Chapters (Layout Features)

The Academic Research Library's White Past and Present

Beilin, Ian G.

This chapter considers a less-often mentioned aspect of whiteness in libraries and librarianship. It examines the ways in which the physical space of the library may inscribe, overdetermine, and perpetuate the library as a white space. I look at the library not only as a place where people work, study, and gather, but as a distinct(ive) part of the university, one which preserves, reproduces, and transmits certain values and regimes of knowledge. I also try to foreground the ways in which a library may be designed to foreclose certain uses, or certain groups, from asserting their agency, or even being. Reflecting on this dimension of the library will show that even if we were to remedy our longstanding diversity and whiteness problems in terms of personnel or staff, we would still find ourselves in spaces of whiteness and spaces that reproduce whiteness. I then suggest some pedagogical implications of these observations about space, and suggest that library classrooms, along with reference and consultation spaces, are the most important sites of resistance to entrenched structures of oppression in the library.


Also Published In

Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science
Library Juice Press

More About This Work

Academic Units
Published Here
May 7, 2018