Library Science Service Learning and Border Pedagogy

By: Alex Mc Allister  

Librarians must be equipped to consider numerous cultural issues in providing services to diverse groups of patrons. This is not always a priority of library science educators and practitioners in the United States. Henry Giroux’s theory of radical democracy and border pedagogy is one framework that can be used to examine libraries as traditionally hegemonic institutions controlling services and collections. Giroux’s attention to equity, freedom, and justice (radical democracy) reveals many issues prevalent in the field of library science. By encouraging students to explore new borders to deconstruct culture, power, and history, Giroux’s theory provides a framework whereby students can learn to create a sustained dialogue focused on respect for otherness. This study highlights library science student work, including journals and a service-learning project, which are used to build connections through community and culture. Students developed perspectives and self-reflection through journaling during a course on building connections through community and culture. The distance education students also work with community libraries to assess services and collections, and discover suggestions for improving connections to various cultural groups. As students learn to cross disciplinary, cultural, and political borders through a series of readings and the class project, their connections are informed by the spirit of Giroux’s theory to consider how underrepresented or marginalized groups are being served.

distance learning, libraries
Reading, Writing, Literacy, and Learning
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Alex Mc Allister

Humanities Librarian/Assistant Professor, University Libraries, Appalachian State University

Alex McAllister is an Assistant Professor and Humanities Librarian for the Belk Library & Information Commons at Appalachian State University. He is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, where he majored in Journalism and Mass Communication. He also holds two master's degrees from the University of South Carolina at Columbia: an MM in Music History and an MLIS. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at ASU in educational leadership with a focus on higher education. His research interests form an intersection of critical theory, poststructuralism, and library science. In addition to his research, Alex teaches courses in library science as well as information literacy classes working with students and faculty from the Art, History, English, Theatre and Dance; and Cultural, Gender and Global Studies departments.