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Title:Political economy in the LIS professions
Author(s):Paradis, Adam D.
Subject(s):Library and information science education
Abstract:How are we to approach the gaps in LIS curriculum, to discover that there are any gaps at all in the midst of our education and training? So often we encounter (and ignore) these absences only once we are embedded in the professions, as archivists, librarians, records and data managers. When our training always comes with the caveats “it depends” and “in practice, though” we need to be able to anticipate and be prepared to encounter glaring problems in our education illuminated by our practices. The only way to make them obvious, to prepare us for the our imminent future, is to critically engage the profession by theorizing practice and bringing practice to bear on theory. My talk will offer some examples of how to begin spotting–and articulating–the gaps. Through the lens of critical theories that articulate the political economy and production of information work, the relations between power and our profession, and the values and institutions we tacitly reproduce, we can become engaged information professionals who can effectively shift and work within the constraints left silent in our training. By introducing with such critical lenses, we will bolster our roles in and for society while contributing to glaring gaps both in our training and education and in the literature that theorizes our work. In this presentation, we will offer a critical appraisal of the profession, a realistic articulation of the work and production of information professionals, and the types of institutions, organizations, and ideologies we support–whether tacitly or explicitly–in information work. In lumping together these professions we have to acknowledge, too, that there are incongruences among them: the service profession elements, the quickness of response, the direct hand in general education so crucially a part of library work is absent in archives, for example. And yet if we take critical theory lenses to both professions we can ask the same question: whom do we serve, what is produced and reproduced, and what is compromised in the always already embeddedness of our professions? The failure of theoretical work to adequately address our professions in practice means that we need to work to fill in those gaps as well. This can be done on the one hand, with a realistic understanding of information work and, on the other, a shrewd understanding of the problems of theory. On the one hand we have the practice of the profession, on the other, a theorization of the profession without the practice. This talk will be a speculative talk: we look at the profession, then the theory, and then how each must inform the other. This will not only bolster both theory and practice, but it will, in turn, re-callibrate the professions. Through symposia like this, resource sharing, discussion and criticism on the many media available–even our forays into professional societies–we can engage our profession, grow the profession, and enhance the profession by becoming aware of their limits and the problems inherent to the work that we do.
Issue Date:2015-04-11
Series/Report:Proceedings of the 2015 Symposium on LIS Education
Genre:Presentation / Lecture / Speech
Rights Information:Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-06-16

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