Social Justice and Cultural Competency: Essential Readings for School Librarians

Libraries Unlimited. Dec. 2019. 200p. pap. $50. ISBN 9781440871207.
Published in partnership with the International Association of School Librarians (IASL), this collection features ten selected papers previously published in IASL’s peer-reviewed journal, School Libraries Worldwide. It seeks to document “empirical social justice and cultural competence research taking place in international school libraries.” To that end, the papers are grouped into three sections: social justice, cultural competency, and innovative practice. Each section opens with an overview “newly written” for the volume “by an expert researcher or researchers.” The research addresses a variety of high-interest topics, including culturally responsive pedagogy, information competence in high-poverty areas, representation in youth literature, access to technology, and the role of the school librarian in supporting new teacher retention. While some of the studies are more introductory in nature (such as one focusing on trauma-informed school library programs), many are academic in tone and assume or require some familiarity with the topics discussed; overall, this is not an entry-level title. However, a wealth of additional resources and suggestions for further reading are provided, some of which are quite extensive. Several studies present program ideas, strategies, or approaches that readers may implement in their own libraries. Also notable is the collection’s global perspective on school librarianship, with research specific to libraries in Canada and Brazil, for example. Even so, it should be noted that the majority of papers are Western in focus—an issue that is touched upon in the final report on global standards for research ethics and practices.
VERDICT Absorbing and thought-provoking, this title is well worth any library professional’s time and consideration.

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