Advocacy, Outreach and Collaboration
Recent graduates often express their understandings of a “gap” between the services provided in public libraries and the education that students received in pursuit of their MLIS. Due to the lack of opportunities for virtual students to engage in action based learning projects, this difference may become more pronounced in the context of online education. Reference services to incarcerated persons presents one means to address the perceived gap, providing students with real-world experiences of information provision to diverse populations with contextualized information needs while meeting a critical lack of available services (Drabinski and Rabina, 2015).
Building from a model for reference by mail created by New York Public Library in partnership with instructors at the Pratt Institute, Dr. Austin and Dr. Villa-Nicholas worked together to tailor a reference by mail service - taking shape through San Francisco Public Library’s jail library services - to fit the context of an online classroom. Dr. Austin will discuss processes of creating, promoting, and implementing the program within jails in San Francisco. In a reflection on incorporating this program into the curriculum, Dr. Villa-Nicholas will present the strategies employed to position the project as an exercise in critical awareness and meaningful, intersectionally focused, professional development.
This panel will discuss the partnership between the San Francisco Public Library’s jail library services and the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. It will include a review of best practices on a productive model of collaboration for reference by mail for incarcerated individuals. This includes a discussion of incorporating the reference by mail services into library and information science curriculum through critical intersectional foundations of thought and an analysis of how we actively assess and revise our program as a living project that thinks about power, accountability, and subjectivity in LIS.