Toward a Transdisciplinary Model of Social Justice in Academic Librarianship: Promoting Critical Awareness Within Advocates and Privileged Allies
Academic libraries are largely comprised of White, middle-aged females, and as part of the overall diversity crisis within higher education, grapple with issues of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and ableism. This mixed-methods study uses an original theoretical framework of critical transcendence, based on the philosophies of Carl Jung and Paulo Freire, to examine what triggers and/or preconditions lead some academic librarians to reflect upon and interrogate their worldview to become actively engaged as advocates and social justice allies (SJAs). An online survey was conducted that obtained data from a sample of 113 academic librarians regarding their interest and commitment toward advocating for social justice and found a significant positive correlation between social justice interest and social justice commitment. Qualitative and mixed analysis included a thematic review of several open-ended questions (OeQs) as well as interviews with six academic librarians who self-identified as SJAs in the quantitative phase. Collective themes emerging from the narratives indicated librarians believed it was a culmination of environment, education, and experience that led them to become SJAs. Strategies they found most impactful were directly engaging with marginalized and underrepresented groups, creating external pathways to success for students and staff, and forming alliances with like-minded allies. When applicable, narrative results were dovetailed with the OeQs to gain a holistic understanding of why academic librarians choose to advocate for social justice. Thus, by examining multiple aspects of the phenomenon, my work provides greater insight as to the motivational factors for social justice advocates and allies within academic libraries and beyond.