Critical systems librarianship

Barron, Simon and Preater, Andrew J. . Critical systems librarianship., 2018 In: The Politics of Theory and the Practice of Critical Librarianship. Library Juice Press, pp. 87-113. [Book chapter]

2018-Barron-and-Preater-Critical-systems-librarianship.pdf - Published version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (336kB) | Preview

English abstract

In this chapter we perform a meta-analysis and synthesize existing critical library and information studies work into a cohesive approach to critical systems librarianship, informed by diverse perspectives and ethical lenses. We seek to enable and facilitate a critically-informed, reflective, and reflexive approach to systems work with specific focus on how information technologies are applied in library work. Critical systems librarianship centrally involves critical reflection which allows systems workers to question the underlying values, assumptions, and power relations ingrained in their daily practices and the institutions within which they work: this is essential to both theoretical questioning and developing strategies to contest power imbalances.

Item type: Book chapter
Keywords: critical theory, systems librarianship, privacy,
Subjects: G. Industry, profession and education. > GB. Software industry.
H. Information sources, supports, channels. > HM. OPACs.
I. Information treatment for information services > IF. Information transfer: protocols, formats, techniques.
I. Information treatment for information services > IK. Design, development, implementation and maintenance
L. Information technology and library technology
Depositing user: Mr Simon Bowie
Date deposited: 04 Mar 2018 14:18
Last modified: 04 Mar 2018 14:18


Alam, Shahidul. “Majority World: Challenging the West’s Rhetoric of Democracy.” Amerasia Journal 34, no. 1 (2008): 87–98. doi:10.17953/amer.34.1.l3176027k4q614v5.

Almeida, Nora. “Open Educational Resources and Rhetorical Paradox in the Neoliberal Univers(ity).” Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies no. 1 (2017).

Alvesson, Mats, Todd Bridgman, and Hugh Willmott, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Critical Management Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

American Library Association. “Core Values of Librarianship.” American Library Association, June 29, 2004.

Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. 2nd ed. London: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Barron, Simon. “11 Open-source Alternatives.” Undaimonia (blog), January 7, 2016.

Barron, Simon. “Implementing Kuali OLE at SOAS Library.” Ariadne, June 2015.

Barron, Simon. “Existentialism and Free and Open-source Software: an Attempted Synthesis.” Undaimonia (blog), June 14, 2016.

Berlin, Isaiah. “Two Concepts of Liberty.” In Four Essays on Liberty, 118–72. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969.

Berry, John N., III. “Library Freedom Fighter Zoia Horn Remembered.” Library Journal, August 19, 2014.

Blue, Violet. “But He does Good Work.” Medium (blog), June 16, 2016,

Bolton, Gillie. Reflective Practice. 4th ed. London: Sage, 2014.

Bourg, Chris. “Libraries, Technology, and Social Justice.” Feral Librarian (blog), October 7, 2016.

Bray, Francesca. “Gender and Technology.” Annual Review of Anthropology 36 (2007): 37–53. doi:10.1146/annurev.anthro.36.081406.094328.

Breeding, Marshall. “Market Share Reports.” (blog). Library Technology Guides.

Breeding, Marshall. “Mergers and Acquisitions.” (blog). Library Technology Guides.

Breeding, Marshall. “Library Systems Report 2016: Power Plays.” American Libraries, May 2, 2016.

Brunton, Finn, and Helen Nissenbaum. Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest. London: MIT Press, 2015.

Budd, John M. “The Library, Praxis, and Symbolic Power.” Library Quarterly 73, no 1 (2003): 19–32. doi:10.1086/603373. doi:/10.1086/603373.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. Reprint. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 1999.

Chełkowski, Tadeusz, Peter Gloor, and Dariusz Jemielniak. “Inequalities in Open Source Software Development: Analysis of Contributor’s Commits in Apache Software Foundation Projects.” PLOS ONE 11, no. 4 (2016). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0152976.

Clark, Ian. “The Digital Divide in the Post-Snowden Era.” Journal of Radical Librarianship 2 (2016).

Coleman, Gabriella. “Code is Speech: Legal Tinkering, Expertise, and Protest among Free and Open Source Software Developers.” Cultural Anthropology 24, no. 3 (2009): 420–54. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1360.2009.01036.x.

Coleman, Gabriella. Coding Freedom. Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2013.

Collier, Andrew. “Power 1.5 and the Weakness of Liberalism.” Journal of Critical Realism 6, no. 1 (2007): 111–16. doi:10.1558/jocr.2007.v6i1.111.

Doolin, Bill. “Information Technology as Disciplinary Technology: Being Critical in Interpretive Research on Information Systems.” Journal of Information Technology 13, no. 4 (1998): 301–11. doi:10.1057/jit.1998.8.

Dryden, Ashe. “The Ethics of Unpaid Labor and the OSS Community.” Ashe Dryden (blog), November 13, 2013,

Eubanks, Virginia. “Want to Predict the Future of Surveillance? Ask Poor Communities.” The American Prospect, January 15, 2014.

Farkas, Meredith. “Never Neutral: Critical Librarianship and Technology.” American Libraries, January 3, 2017.

Feenberg, Andrew. The Philosophy of Praxis. London: Verso, 2014.

Feenberg, Andrew. “A Critical Theory of Technology.” In Information Technology in Librarianship: New Critical Approaches, edited by Gloria. J. Leckie and John E. Buschman, 31–46. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2008.

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish. Translated by Alan Sheridan. London: Penguin, 1991.

Foucault, Michel. “The Subject and Power.” Translated by Robert Hurley and others. In Power: The Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954–1984. Volume Three, edited by James D. Faubion, 236–48. New York, NY: New Press, 1981.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Translated by Myra Bergman Ramos. 2nd ed. London: Penguin, 1993.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of Hope. Translated by Robert R. Barr. London: Bloomsbury, 1994.

Galvan, Angela. “Architecture of Authority.” Angela Fixes Things (blog), December 5, 2016,

Geek Feminism Wiki. “Richard Stallman.” Geek Feminism Wiki.

Geek Feminism Wiki. “Timeline of Incidents.” Geek Feminism Wiki.

Givens, Cherie L. Information Privacy Fundamentals for Librarians and Information Professionals. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress. Oxford: Routledge, 1994.

Hudson, David J. “On Dark Continents and Digital Divides: Information Inequality and the Reproduction of Racial Otherness in Library and Information Studies.” Journal of Information Ethics 25, no. 1 (2016): 62–80.

Jaeger, Paul T., and Lindsay C. Sarin. “All Librarianship is Political: Educate Accordingly.” The Political Librarian 2, no. 1 (2016): article 8.

Kriss, Jesse. “Anti-Capitalist Human Scale Software (and Why it Matters).” Medium (blog), February 10, 2016.

Lawson, Stuart, Kevin Sanders, and Lauren Smith. “Commodification of the Information Profession: A Critique of Higher Education Under Neoliberalism.” Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 3, no. 1 (2016): eP1182. doi:10.7710/2162-3309.1182.

Leckie, Gloria J., and John E. Buschman. “Introduction: The Necessity for Theoretically Informed Critique in Library and Information Science (LIS).” In Critical Theory for Library and Information Science, edited by Gloria J. Leckie, Lisa M. Given, and John E. Buschman, vii-xxii. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.

Library Freedom Project. “What is the Library Freedom Project?” Library Freedom Project.

Lichtblau, Eric. “F.B.I., Using Patriot Act, Demands Library’s Records.” New York Times, August 26, 2005.

Macrina, Alison. “Accidental Technologist: The Tor Browser and Intellectual Freedom in the Digital Age.” Reference and User Services Quarterly 54, no. 4 (2015): 17–20. doi:10.5860/rusq.54n4.17.

Mashcat. “Mashcat: Mashed Catalogue Data / Cataloguers and Developers.” mashcat.

Mortimer, Mary. LibrarySpeak: A Glossary of Terms in Librarianship and Information Management. Friendswood, TX: TotalRecall, 2007.

Neary, Mike, and Josh Winn. “Open Education: Common(s), Commonism and the new Common Wealth.” Ephemera 12, no. 4 (2012): 406–22.

Preater, Andrew. “Free and Open Source Software and Distributed Innovation.” Andrew Preater. Always-already librarianing. Bread and roses (blog), December 1, 2016.

Riedsma, Matthew. “Algorithmic Bias in Library Discovery Systems.” Matthew Reidsma (blog), March 11, 2016,

Rogaway, Phillip. “The Moral Character of Cryptographic Work.” Presentation at Asiacrypt 2015, Auckland, New Zealand, December 2015.

Rogers, Jenica. “Considering the Librarian Tech Skills Gap.” Attempting Elegance (blog), March 25, 2013.

Rundle, Hugh. “Building a Richly-Featured Integrated Library Management System that Puts Patron Privacy First, Using Meteor and Mylar.” Presentation at VALA2016 in Melbourne, Australia, February 2016.

Sadler, Bess, and Chris Bourg. “Feminism and the Future of Library Discovery.” Code4lib Journal 28 (2015).

Schroeder, Robert, and Christopher V. Hollister. “Librarians’ Views on Critical Theories and Critical Practices.” Behavioral and Social Sciences Librarian 33, no. 2 (2014): 91–119. doi:10.1080/01639269.2014.912104.

Smith, Elizabeth. “Teaching Critical Reflection.” Teaching in Higher Education 16, no. 2 (2011): 211–23. doi:10.1080/13562517.2010.515022.

Tillman, Ruth Kitchin. “Editorial: Introspection as Activism, or, Getting Our Houses in Order.” Code4lib Journal 35 (2017).

Tronto, Joan C. “An Ethic of Care.” In Feminist Theory: A Philosophical Anthology, edited by Ann E. Cudd and Robin O. Andreasen, 251–63. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.

Underwood, Ted. “Theorizing Research Practices We Forgot to Theorize Twenty Years Ago.” Representations 127, Summer (2014): 64–72. doi:10.1525/rep.2014.127.5.64.


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item