UMD Hosts ALA Spectrum Scholars: Social Justice Collaboratorium Design Symposium

On June 6-7, 2015 the iSchool hosted the next generation of social justice scholars at the Social Justice Collaboratorium Design Symposium. The event was sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), as part of the Spectrum Doctoral Fellowship Program. The Fellowship seeks to “reinforce and expand efforts to recruit racially and ethnically diverse individuals to the LIS professorate.”

Current Spectrum Fellows:

  • Miraida Morales – Rutgers University;
  • Myrna Morales – University of Illinois;
  • RaShauna Brannon – University of Illinois;
  • Mario Ramirez – UCLA;
  • LaVerne Gray – University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and
  • Elnora Tayag – UNC Chapel Hill. 

The Fellows conducted two days of workshops focused along with about thirty researchers and practitioners dedicated to issues of social justice in the field of library and information science (LIS). Over the two days, participants were lead through a series of three exercises that:

  1. Cultivated discussions of how libraries, librarians, information professionals, and many kinds of information organizations address issues of social justice. Discussions centered around the more obvious (at least to librarians) provisions like free access to information, classes teaching digital and information literacy skills, reading programs for children and adults; and on the less obvious activities such as providing safe spaces during times of unrest like the Ferguson Public Library in Fall 2014; offering free summer lunch programs for children who receive free school meals; or offering free immigration and ESOL programs.
  2. Encouraged participants to envision (and contribute to ) how the profession can further contribute to a better world through practices like creating additional coursework in LIS programs or cultivating a more activist image of librarians/information professionals.
  3. Helped participants craft a definition of social justice in the context of LIS.
  4. And, most importantly crafted scenarios and language to aid in the creation of the “Social Justice Collaboratorium.

About the Collaboratorium

The Social Justice Collaboratorium will be a online resource/portal that will provide educational resources, research, as well as a community space for those interested in study of and promotion of social justice initiatives in LIS. The ALA Spectrum Doctoral Fellows are in the process of creating the online resource. Here at the iSchool, we look forward to contributing and working with the Fellows as they make this space a reality.

To learn more about the ALA Spectrum Doctoral Fellows and their projects, please visit:


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