Including the Voices of Librarians of Color in Reference and Information Services Research

Amy VanScoy, Kawanna Bright


Librarians of color make up a small proportion of information professionals, but their perspectives should still be included in theory and best practices. This study seeks to create an inclusive understanding of reference and information service (RIS) by exploring the experience of RIS for librarians of color. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, the experience of RIS for eight librarians of color, from various ethnic groups and types of libraries, is analyzed. Five themes of experience emerged from the analysis: uniqueness and difference; broad range of professional skills; messiness and beauty of the human interaction; working in a web of outside forces; and learning, growth, and change. In relation to prior research, findings show that these librarians of color experience reference and information work as multifaceted and user-focused, in common with librarians in general. However, they have unique experiences of reference and information services work because of microaggressions and discrimination and because of their focus on serving as a role model or mentor.

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