How to Move Forward: My Thoughts on “Mapping Whiteness at the Reference Desk”

Can libraries be a site for social justice? How can topics about diversity, equity, and inclusion be integrated into information literacy training? These were just some of the questions that we started to explore during our discussion of Hathcock and Sendaula’s “Mapping Whiteness at the Reference Desk”. Before discussing this book chapter, I never really thought about the connections between how an individual is treated at the reference desk based on their perceived gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other identities, emphasizing some of my previous stereotypes about librarianship. Despite taking numerous classes at Carleton that have addressed prejudice within the workplace, I never considered how individuals could experience microaggressions or overt acts of prejudice while working at the library. Instead of having answers, this discussion ended up leading to multiple questions about how we can move forward, combating frequent microaggressions, and helping dismantle whiteness at the reference desk? Also, I started to wonder how Carleton has worked towards making these changes? While I think frequent discussions about this topic are a great first step, there need to be concrete initiatives in place in order to make the library a welcoming space for both workers and patrons.

Clara Posner