Go Back and Get It: From One Narrative to Many
Marginalized people have been educating, shouting, crying, and demanding justice for decades. During the global pandemic, the world finally began acknowledging systemic discrimination that suppresses their voices and erases their histories. Calls for social justice, though, fall flat without examining and bolstering the foundations upon which our institutions are built. Similar to the example set by works like The New York Times 1619 Project, Library and Information Science educators must begin examining the complex history of our own profession and institutions. By including a more nuanced, honest look at our own history, we can infuse more cultural humility into the library profession.
“Go back and get it” is one of the literal interpretations of the term Sankofa, a symbol used by the Akan people of Ghana. The Sankofa is generally depicted as a bird with its head turned backward taking an egg from its back. It is a metaphor reminding us of the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress. It is a command, a direction that we must undertake now in order to hear the voices of people who were left behind. It forces us to rewrite our history as we shift from a single to a complex narrative in order to incorporate unacknowledged knowledge and wisdom so that we can make positive progress. The concept of “Sankofa” is entering the collective consciousness of library professionals as evidenced by conferences such as the 2021 National Conference of African American Librarians. As LIS educators, we must prepare future generations of librarians to take part in this evolving LIS landscape.
Incorporating marginalized voices into the narrative of LIS education requires us to respond to difficult questions. As educators we must ask ourselves how we may be perpetuating systems of injustice. How might LIS education move beyond performative “diversity” efforts toward measurable, significant, lasting change? How do we continually re-adjust our programs to prepare our students to fearlessly challenge injustice? The ALISE 2022 Annual Conference invites participants to add their own voices to the LIS narrative by sharing your innovations, research, pedagogical tools, and unique perspectives.
The theme of The ALISE 2022 Conference, “Go back and Get It: From One Narrative to Many” signifies our intention to provide a fearless space to examine how the history of LIS education, and academia as whole, impacts the profession in the present. It is designed to encourage participants to ask difficult questions and to provide a platform for transformative conversations.
Amplifying multiple voices from the past and present demands engagement with a wide range of topics, pedagogies, and research methodologies. Such wideranging dialogue can only occur through proposals from the entire spectrum of LIS and related fields. We welcome responses to the conference theme via proposal submission to ensure we have meaningful dialog at the conference.
2022 Conference Programing Planning Committee Co-chairs:
Jenny Bossaller, University of Missouri
LaTesha Velez, University of North Carolina Greensboro