Dislocations of Multicultural Librarianship: A Critical Examination for a Liberatory Practice

2008 Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture

Dr. Clara M. Chu


The power of information and cultural institutions, thus libraries, play an essential role in whose voice is documented and heard or ignored and silenced.  In addressing the needs of its diverse communities, libraries have a responsibility to provide equity of access to information and its services.  History has shown that libraries have not always been accountable, resulting in mainstream society and its culture being privileged and some groups, based on race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, gender and other factors, being denied service or misrepresented.  Contemporary societies cannot overlook the diversity of our communities and the impact of globalization, and the need for all libraries to address diversity.  Cognizant of this, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has adopted the Multicultural Library Manifesto.  This talk will provide a critical examination of multicultural librarianship, grounded on the theoretical concepts of positionality, dialogue and transformation to dislocate library services to culturally diverse communities as we know it.  Models will be discussed that examine our knowledge, attitudes and actions towards liberatory practice, and developing critical multicultural librarianship.

About Dr. Chu

Dr. Clara M. Chu, an Associate Professor at the Department of Information Studies, UCLA, specializes in the social construction of information systems, institutions, and access in order to understand the usage of and barriers to information in multicultural communities.  Her transnational and ethnic minority experiences provide her a distinctive and critical lens to examine information issues, to educate students, and to inform professional practice.  She is an active member of professional associations addressing multicultural librarianship and is serving on the Steering Committee of IFLA’s Section on Library Services to Multicultural Populations.  She is author of “Raison d’être for Multicultural Library Services,” which has been adopted by the IFLA Library Services to Multicultural Populations Section, and is available in 12 languages. http://www.ifla.org/VII/s32/index.htm   She was recipient of the 2002 ALA Equality Award and was named a 2005 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, which recognizes people who are shaping the future of libraries.