Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook, Volume 1: Essays and Workbook Activities. Edited by Nicole Pagowsky and Kelly McElroy. Chicago: ACRL, 2016. 280 p. Paper $56 (ISBN: 978-0-8389-8846-6). Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook, Volume 2: Lesson Plans. Edited by Nicole Pagowsky and Kelly McElroy. Chicago: ACRL, 2016. 272 p. Paper $56 (ISBN: 978-0-8389-8850-3)

As a librarian whose primary passion and daily job duties center on information literacy instruction, I find myself constantly searching for new techniques and resources to engage my students. To combat the dreaded vacant expressions and deafening silence brought to required library sessions by uninterested students, I do my research and plan, plan, plan. I talk about Beyoncé and Game of Thrones and Donald Trump. I wrap critical discussions in goofy jokes and friendly smiles, and I fervently hope that students leave my classroom with enjoyable memories and a smattering of knowledge about the power of information literacy. To convey this knowledge, I strive to use the most thought-provoking, discussion-based activities possible, and I am delighted to announce that Pagowsky and McElroy’s Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook(s) (2016) provide exactly the type of high-quality, thoughtful, progressive resources that every instruction librarian needs.

Volume 1 begins with a discussion about the critical pedagogy’s place in library science, especially in library instruction. Springing from the social sciences, critical theory asks participants to examine the surrounding world in the context of social structures and to seek methods of progress. In the realm of library science, critical theory creates space for librarians and patrons alike to reflect on the social reality created by every library’s environment and to create solutions that promote justice at the individual and community level. The nineteen essays put forth in the first half of volume 1 hold just such a discussion with extremely diverse perspectives, such as Hinchliffe’s (chapter 8) call for academic librarians to incorporate human rights education into information literacy and Shanley and Chance’s (chapter 16) use of the “Girls Rock” method to promote female voices. The second half of volume 1 builds from theory to practice, giving readers eleven examples of activities to apply in their own classrooms.

Volume 2, to my nerdy delight, consists solely of lesson plans, chapter upon chapter of gloriously detailed lesson plans. Each plan offers every element an instructor might need to enact the lesson for herself or himself, including rationale, outcomes, materials, step-by-step instructions, assessment, reflections, and final questions. My one (slightly) negative observation is that the lesson plans of one-shot sessions and multi-lesson activities are intermingled, without labelling at the chapter level to help the reader differentiate between them.

Aside from this small suggestion for improvement, I highly recommend these handbooks to every academic librarian seeking to strengthen their instruction with authentic discussion.—Calantha Tillotson, Instructional Services Librarian, East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma


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