Decolonising and diversifying the library

A number of academic liaison staff have been involved in projects looking at how the library could help with decolonisation and diversification of the curriculum.

Libraries are complicit in supporting constructions of knowledge that perpetuate existing power structures, and how at the same time they may have the potential to serve as sites of resistance and change.

Rosenblum, B. (2015) ‘Decolonizing libraries (extended abstract)’, Brian Rosenblum, 1 February. Available at: http://brianrosenblum.net/2015/02/01/decolonizing_libraries/ (Accessed: 01 February 2021).

The History department have created a reading list of resources on the History of Black, Asian and other ethnic minorities in Britain. This allows staff and students to see all our books and ebooks on this topic in one place.

Business Librarian, Debbie Lenihan helped initiate a reading list Knowledge Sources for Inclusive Curriculum with Sola Adesola, aimed at staff in the Business School.

Jo Akers and Jane Stevens Crawshaw used this work as a basis for the creation of Diverse histories reading lists for staff in the Department of History, Philosophy and Culture.

More work on this has been done by Shani Davis, and she gave a presentation at our June 2020 Teachmeet, highlighting the current work and discussions on the topic of decolonising library collections and practices. This talk drew upon the conference Shani had attended in November 2019, “Decolonising Library Collections and Practices: from Understanding to Action”, organised by CILIP International Library and Information Group and Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Below, Geoff Morgan describes his work with staff in the Technology, Design and Environment faculty.

I was invited to two meetings last summer: one with the School of Architecture and the other with the School of the Built Environment. Academic staff in both schools had found out about the presentation I gave at a Teachmeet in June 2019 and had read my paper on the librarian’s role indecolonising the curriculum. At the two TDE meetings the issue of inclusivity and decolonisation was discussed in relation to the library. Looking

at the Architecture collection, we came to an agreement that it is sufficiently inclusive as we have a vernacular architecture course which deals with all architecture throughout the world of all cultures. The same seems to be true of the Built Environment, and a group has been set up with Tracey Isaac, the course administrator, taking a lead as she has a special interest in this area and has done much research on inclusivity. The positive thing for me in this is that the two schools I met with appreciate the role that the library and its staff can have in helping to make their courses more inclusive, especially when it comes to the reading material/lists.

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