It's been a couple of weeks since my Library Instruction class Skyped with academic librarian Maria T. Accardi. I'm still fangirling and continuing to think about how the work I do is inherently feminist. Maria wrote Feminist Pedagogy for Library Instruction, which for those faithful blog readers, will know that I read this book this summer. So it was nice to reread the book this fall and to have Maria speak to us about the ideas in the book and hear about her own practice of librarianship.
I've put together some of the tweets from that day, which I'll interweave with some of the main ideas of feminist pedagogy in librarian instruction.
For Maria she says, "At its simplest level, feminist pedagogy is concerned with gender justice and overcoming oppression" (2).
So what does this mean? It means being intentional with how we see and do things in our librarian practice. In her book, Maria talks about the value of a narrative, intuition, and experiential knowledge. It means valuing the students' experiences they bring to the table.
This means creating a student-centered classroom/library space, and finding ways to care about the students/patrons/people/community we work with. It means consciousness raising, echoing back to the ideas of Paulo Freire. In our planning, we can find ways to raise critical consciousness, to explain the inherent rules and orders our society creates. Something as simple as choosing a feminist search term (women AND engineering) could results in a fruitful (and informative) search.
In order to do this (to help amplify unheard voices or raise critical consciousness), we need to really know the people we interact with. We have to care about the students/patrons/people/community we are working with and in. And Maria is quick to admit, this level of caring is not easy.
But for me, it's worth it. The results you get when you care are sometimes indescribable. As Maria was talking, I started to see the ways in which feminist pedagogy slips into how I conduct myself as a supervisor in my new job. My job is to integrate myself into two residence hall communities, to know my staff on a personal level, and to figure out how to make the libraries a better place for students to be and to use our resources.
And I've run into students who don't want anything to do with the libraries. However, I have hope. I need to keep reminding the students I am working with that their voices should be heard and finding ways to learn from their experiences.
Maria's talk was so helpful. It was confirming and inspiring and ahhh, the moments where I am reminded why I like being in grad school. That energy, that air, the possibilities. The framework that informs how I live and work and think about librarianship. It's something that has become a part of my thinking and I think it enhances what I do.
So thank you Maria, for your book and for your voice.