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From Street-level Bureaucracy to Sustainable Communities: Librarianship for Social Justice in Times of Limited Resources

Critical Librarianship

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

ISSN: 0732-0671

Publication date: 17 August 2020

Abstract

Librarians have been urged to emphasize social justice and human rights issues in their library mission, but they may find themselves challenged to provide additional services, such as access to legal information for those who cannot afford an attorney. Social justice services in libraries are seldom adequately funded and providing services in this area is labor intensive. In addition, there is an emotional intensity in library services for social justice that is often not considered in the initial enthusiasm of providing services in this area. Yet there seems to be no limit to the need. An interesting and useful perspective on how a public agency such as a library responds in circumstances of limited resources and unlimited demand can be found in the book Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Service, by Michael Lipsky. In this perspective, lower level civil servants who interact directly with members of the general public exercise a level of discretion in the amount of services provided and how those services are administered. This chapter explores how this can generate tensions between more traditional library bureaucracy and social justice services, such as providing public access to justice resources in law libraries. However, the “street-level” response is evolving into a sustainability perspective as librarians embrace a more social justice–oriented outlook in library service planning.

Keywords

Citation

Jones, Y.P. (2020), "From Street-level Bureaucracy to Sustainable Communities: Librarianship for Social Justice in Times of Limited Resources", Hines, S.S. and Ketchum, D.H. (Ed.) Critical Librarianship (Advances in Library Administration and Organization, Vol. 41), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 65-84. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0732-067120200000041005

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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