ALISE Historical Perspectives SIG

History for Impact


  • Joseph Winberry
  • Beth Patin Syracuse University School of Information Studies
  • José Aguiñaga
  • Nicole Cooke
  • LaVerne Gray
  • Toni Samek
  • Brenda White



pedagogy, Critical librarianship, Social justice, Sociology of information, Archives


Thirty years later we look back to ALA’s Library History Round Table (LHRT) Statement on History in Education for Library and Information Science and consider how we elevate the perspectives of the historically marginalized in the telling of this history.
Toni Samek Celeste West (1942-2008) has a role in the cast of people I teach about. She co-founded the first women-owned American library publishing house, engaged in activism, lived as an out lesbian and polyamorist, and took her own life. For years, students found it harder to find information about West as subject (vs. author). She Was a Booklegger: Remembering Celeste West (2010) was born. The co-edited book (Toni Samek, K.R. Roberto & Moyra Lang) champions a librarian who was 'unbossed and unbought'. Let’s embrace the freedom to speak about Celeste West!
Nicole Cooke In 2016 I published an article about 30 Black MLIS students who attended the University of Illinois – the Carnegie Scholars. This research ignited my passion for telling the stories of librarians who have come before us, as their history absolutely has an impact on our profession, education, and advocacy. I have since soft launched the Black Librarians Project, which includes Culture, History, and Society and a forthcoming collection on Black women librarians. Not only do these previously unknown, and suppressed, stories help us correct the historical narrative of the profession, they enable instructors to enrich LIS curricula.
LaVerne Gray The Art of “Uncovering”: Teaching Black Memory, Information, and Justice Uncovering a Black past in an information studies classroom presents an ideal opportunity to blend community, artifacts, and scholarship. The course examines relational information collectives, history, memory, and justice activities in the Black experience. Areas of emphasis explore how culture(s), class designation, gender, and community location are fashioned in a Black informational perspective.
Brenda White Since fall 2020, the University at Buffalo’s Department of Information Science has offered a course “The History and Role of Libraries as Social Actors” which examines the history and social roles of public libraries in the United States during the 19th Century through the present. Getting students to recognize the historical realities of library history—that they have been guilty of the same kinds of institutional racism and ignorance of marginalized communities as every other component of American society—is crucial to moving libraries forward.
Jose' Aguinaga Transitioning from being a BIPOC academic librarian for the past twenty-eight years to now being a tenure-track LIS faculty & scholar allows me to encourage my colleagues (students) to share their experiences with the scholarly content explored in the present and future coursework. Learning about the past and then creating space to understand the contributions of marginalized voices will be structured via the digital counter-storytelling framework using Rendon’s sentipensante (sensing/thinking) pedagogy (2014), which encourages the discovery and dissemination of future contributions to the scholarship and contributes to the ethos of social justice.


American Library Association Library History Round Table (1989). Statement on History in Education for Library and Information Science,

Pawley, C. (2005). History in the Library and Information Science Curriculum: Outline of a Debate. Libraries & Culture, 40(3), 223–238.