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Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis

Library Juice. 2018. 322p. ed. by Kate Adler$SPACE$&$SPACE$. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781634000512. $35. PRO MEDIA
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Library reference is on the decline. Fewer questions are asked, and there are fewer staffers to answer them as libraries phase out stand-alone reference desks and reassign reference librarians to other roles. Editors Adler, Ian Beilin, and Eamon Tewell, academic librarians based in New York City, make a powerful case for the relevance of reference services, envisioned within a social justice framework. Twenty-three contributors cover a broad sweep of topics: the New York Public Library's reference-by-mail service for prisoners, efforts to preserve radical pamphlets and dodge censors during martial law in the Philippines, 1970s-era pilot programs to place library science students in urban minority-majority communities, attempts to construct a theory of "lesbian librarianship," and Ukrainian librarians' struggles to navigate volatile political landscapes (in 2015, librarian Natalya Sharina was arrested in Russia on trumped-up charges of inciting ethnic hatred against Russians).
VERDICT This thought-provoking, radical, and persuasive work will excite even the most theory-averse readers and challenge librarians to see reference through a critical theory lens of empathy and social justice.

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