“Louder for the people in the back”

Amplifying historically marginalized voices through qualitative research





Qualitative Research Methods, Social Justice, Community Engagement, Underrepresented Populations


Racial segregation in publicly funded libraries in the United States was generally accepted until 1964 when the Civil Rights Act made it illegal. Today, public libraries continue to be beset by underrepresentation and discrimination. Current literature calls to improve the LIS landscape by integrating social justice and equity into research, education, and practice while also confronting systemic racism. In this paper, we posit to improve LIS research by diversifying representation through qualitative methods by including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) perspectives and participation to help address the persistent negative impacts of racial discrimination. We demonstrate how qualitative methods are vital to more fully elicit the stories, experiences, feelings, and perspectives of historically marginalized populations. We include advice through verbatim quotations from a BIPOC community leader with extensive experience with LIS research which promotes understanding and empathy as LIS continues to confront historical and contemporary racial discrimination.

Author Biography

Kaitlin Montague, Rutgers University

Kaitlin Montague, MI is a PhD Candidate in Library and Information Science at Rutgers University in the School of Communication and Information. Montague's research focuses on human information behavior, but more specifically, she looks at the information practices of mobile populations (i.e. people living in vans). Montague received her MI from Rutgers University in 2016 and was a public librarian for four years working with both children and adults before returning to Rutgers for the PhD program.


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Juried Papers