Sources: Feminist Pedagogy for Library Instruction

Feminist Pedagogy for Library Instruction. By Maria T. Accardi. Sacramento: Library Juice Press, 2013. 148 p. Paper $22 (ISBN 978-1-936117-55-0).

With Feminist Pedagogy for Library Instruction, librarian Maria T. Accardi gives the reader an interesting, innovative, and practical look at the intersection between library instruction and feminist pedagogy. Accardi directs the book towards instruction librarians interested in more progressive and theoretical approaches to library instruction in the academic setting. Feminism is defined in the text, and Accardi highlights her own personal stories about her life and her journey to both feminism and librarianship. This approach gives the reader a sense of what brought Accardi to study and write about this subject and why she feels it is an important addition to the field. She also provides information about feminist pedagogy in academia in general, giving a good overview of feminist pedagogy and what it means to be a “feminist teacher.” Although those who already share her progressive views may be more open to this way of teaching, any reader will gain knowledge of this important area of academic pedagogy, which focuses more on supportive interaction and less on passive learning. The author explains that, in many ways, library instruction has already recently embraced elements of feminist pedagogy: “library instruction favors active learning, a nurturing environment, and learner-centered pedagogy” (57). However, according to Accardi, turning to more explicitly progressive politics in the library instruction classroom creates a more feminist classroom and a path towards social change. As she explains: “Why make politics more explicit? Because this is how social change happens. This is how lives are transformed” (57). The book also describes assessment of learning outcomes from a feminist perspective.

Based on theory as well of years of practice, Accardi’s lessons for applying feminist methods are useful and practical. Most importantly, Accardi gives the reader appendixes with outlined and annotated examples of classroom assignments; librarians will find it easy to incorporate these examples into their own practice. The book also includes an extensive and helpful reading list for further exploration of the topics.

It is interesting to note that, unlike many academic librarians, Accardi claims that information literacy is not neutral or apolitical. It is difficult to avoid agreeing with her when she points out that the subject headings used in libraries are not always neutral or apolitical and that students searching for information on controversial topics cannot help but be influenced by how society views these issues.

Feminist Pedagogy for Information Literacy is a personal, theoretical, and practical approach to using feminist pedagogy to enhance and elevate library instruction and make it a much more respected part of higher education. This book is recommended for librarians, LIS students, and LIS faculty who are interested in expanding their theoretical and pedagogical understanding of library instruction and assessment in a progressive and interesting way.—Jennifer L. Smith, Serials/Documents Specialist, Carol Grotnes Belk Library at Elon University, Elon, North Carolina

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