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Widening Participation Praxis and Library Leadership

Critical Librarianship

ISBN: 978-1-83909-485-9, eISBN: 978-1-83909-484-2

Publication date: 17 August 2020


This chapter theorizes academic libraries and library workers as partners in social justice work in higher education, linking the core concerns of critical librarianship (or Critlib) to library leadership practices that can enable and facilitate widening participation as a political project. 1 Widening participation, as a policy imperative and higher education practice, attempts to improve access to higher education among underrepresented groups. However, rooted in the logic of marketized, neoliberal higher education, liberal approaches to widening participation are instrumentalist and contribute to a cultural discourse which reproduces inequity and unequal educational outcomes.

Drawing on Nancy Fraser's model of social justice and critical sociology of education, particularly the work of Penny Jane Burke and Diane Reay, this chapter develops a critical theory of library leadership which radically reframes widening participation practice as a project of recognition and inclusion. In connecting the rich scholarship of Critlib movement, particularly critical information literacy and library pedagogies, to shared commitments to social justice between library and other education workers, this chapter deepens our theoretical understanding of libraries' contributions to widening participation.



Preater, A. (2020), "Widening Participation Praxis and Library Leadership", Hines, S.S. and Ketchum, D.H. (Ed.) Critical Librarianship (Advances in Library Administration and Organization, Vol. 41), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 21-40.



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