To read this content please select one of the options below:

Collective Praxis: Leveraging Local and Heritage-Based Values for Public Librarian Professional Development

Vanessa Irvin (University of Hawaii, USA)

How Public Libraries Build Sustainable Communities in the 21st Century

ISBN: 978-1-80382-436-9, eISBN: 978-1-80382-435-2

Publication date: 8 September 2023


In Hawaiʻi, two public library systems exist – a traditional municipal branch system and a Native Hawaiian rural community-based library network. The Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS) is the traditional municipal library system that services the state’s diverse communities with 51 branch locations, plus its federal repository, the Hawaii State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. The HSPLS primarily serves the local urban communities of Hawaiʻi, diverse in its citizenry. The Native Hawaiian Library, a unit of ALU LIKE, Inc. (a Hawaiian non-profit social services organization), boasts multiple locations across six inhabited Hawaiian Islands, primarily serving rural Hawaiian communities. The HSPLS focuses on traditional public library services offered by MLS-degreed librarians. In contrast, the Native Hawaiian Library (ALU LIKE) focuses on culturally oriented literacy services offered by Hawaiian cultural practitioners. As the state’s only library and information sciences (LISs) educational venue, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s LIS program (UHM LIS) is a nexus point between these two library systems where LIS students learn the value of community-based library services while gaining the traditional technical skills of librarianship concerning Hawaiʻi as a place of learning and praxis.

This book chapter focuses on outcomes from the IMLS-funded research project called “Hui ʻEkolu,” which means “three groups” in the Hawaiian language. From 2018 to 2021, the HSPLS, the Native Hawaiian Library (ALU LIKE), and the UHM LIS Program gathered as “Hui ʻEkolu” to create a community of praxis to share and exchange knowledge to learn from one another to improve professional practice and heighten cultural competency within a Hawaiian context. Native Hawaiian values were leveraged as a nexus point for the three groups to connect and build relationships for sustainable mentorship and culturally competent connections as a model for librarian professional development. The result is a model for collective praxis that leverages local and endemic cultural values for sustainable collaborative professional development for public librarianship.




This work is the outcome of a workshop presented at the 41st Ethnography in Education Research Forum held at the University of Pennsylvania in February 2020 as part of the dissemination efforts for the Hui ‘Ekolu grant program sponsored by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), 2018–2021. The Hui ‘Ekolu program was cleared by the Internal Review Board (IRB) of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa; thus, all participant locations, quotes, and contributions are presented anonymously with permission. The author gratefully acknowledges Valerie Crabbe, Stacey Aldrich, Rich Gazan, Violet Harada, Sarah Nakashima, and Rae Montague for assistance and support with this research and appreciates the contributions of the 35 participants of Hui ‘Ekolu, its stakeholders, and advisory board members.


Irvin, V. (2023), "Collective Praxis: Leveraging Local and Heritage-Based Values for Public Librarian Professional Development", Williams-Cockfield, K.C. and Mehra, B. (Ed.) How Public Libraries Build Sustainable Communities in the 21st Century (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 53), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 37-55.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Vanessa Irvin