ALA Editions Special Report explores Black and African American students’ experiences in libraries

For Immediate Release
Fri, 08/26/2022


Rob Christopher

Marketing Coordinator

ALA Publishing & Media

American Library Association


CHICAGO — Librarianship is still a predominantly white profession. It is essential that current practitioners as well as those about to enter the field take an unflinching look at the profession’s legacy of racial discrimination, including the ways in which race might impact service to users such as students in school, public, and academic libraries. Given the prevalence of implicit and explicit bias against Black and African American people, Amanda L. Folk and Tracey Overbey argue that we must speak to these students directly to hear their stories and thereby understand their experiences. Their new Special Report published by ALA Editions, “Narratives of (Dis)Engagement: Exploring Black and African American Students’ Experiences in Libraries,” shares the findings of a qualitative research study that explored the library experiences of Black and African American undergraduate students both before and during college. Grounding its analysis within an equity framework, from this report readers will:

  • learn details about the study, which focused on the potential role of race in the students’ interactions with library staff, including white staff and staff of color;
  • gain insight into Black and African American users’ perceptions of libraries and library staff, attitudes towards reading, frequency of library usage, and the importance of family;
  • understand the implications of the study’s findings for our practice and for librarianship more broadly, including our ongoing commitment to diversifying the profession; and
  • walk away with recommendations that can be applied to every library and educational context, such as guidance for developing an antiracist organization and more equitable service provision.

Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use.

This new volume complements “Narratives of (Dis)Enfranchisement: Reckoning with the History of Libraries and the Black and African American Experience,” the authors’ previous ALA Editions Special Report. Folk is an assistant professor and head of the Teaching & Learning Department at The Ohio State University Libraries. In addition to serving as the editor in chief for The Journal of Academic Librarianship, she has been published in College & Research Libraries, portal: Libraries and the Academy, College & Undergraduate Libraries, the Journal of Library Administration, and International Information & Library Review. She was the recipient of the 2020 ACRL Instruction Section’s Ilene F. Rockman Instruction Publication of the Year Award. Overbey is assistant professor and Social Sciences Librarian at The Ohio State University Libraries. She won an organizational award for implementing a seed library at The Ohio State University Libraries for students to come and obtain seeds from the library to plant fresh produce within their residence halls. This initiative helped those students and faculty who live in food desert communities. She has also won state and local grants that expose students who live within economically strained communities to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) resources through programming and hands-on explorations. In addition, she serves on the Executive Board for the Black Caucus American Library Association, has published in Public Library Quarterly, and presented conference papers at the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conferences.

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