LIBR 565 Progressive and Radical Information Work


MAS students: Completion of the MAS Core courses, plus permission of the instructor.

MLIS and Dual students: Some electives can be taken in conjunction with the MLIS Core courses; consult with the MLIS Program Chair for recommendations.

GOAL: Bringing together issues of social justice and librarianship throughout the graduate program, this course focuses on the role of libraries and information professionals in resisting or reinforcing unequal and unjust balances of power in society. Within the context of a broad range of information professions, this course explores librarianship’s progressive ethos: how libraries and librarians have been agents of social justice and how they have not. Students will engage with information studies scholarship from diverse perspectives and learn how to amplify marginalized voices in the profession. Students will further develop their critical lens through which to examine a number of contemporary issues facing the scholarly and professional community, from rights to information and privacy to changing labour relations in information work. Students will be expected to relate topics in this course to the rest of their program and to professional experiences. Throughout this course, we will develop professional skills to prepare students to act as inflexion points between information institutions and community advocates.


  1. Describe and critique progressive and radical norms and ethics in the information professions, particularly librarianship.
  2. Describe the principles and ethics of critical information studies and the influences and contributions of related fields such as science and technology studies, gender studies, and race studies to this field.
  3. Identify and analyze a range of information-related challenges and opportunities that face diverse individuals, communities, and organizations, particularly those marginalized or misrepresented in information services.
  4. Critically evaluate information institutions’ programs and interventions with regards to potential to address or exacerbate marginalization and imbalances of power.
  5. Articulate the ideas and concepts of critical theory in a variety of communication modes, particularly oral and written.
  6. Synthesize and apply existing scholarship from information studies, critical theory, and cognate fields to identify and develop significant practical questions.
  7. Respond to the information-related challenges and aspirations of diverse individuals, communities, and organizations through collaboration, support, and humility.
  8. Advocate on behalf of marginalized constituencies that the profession serves.
  9. Participate in and facilitate respectful and rigorous discussions on critical issues of social justice in the professions.


  • The scholarly heritage of critical librarianship and critical information studies
  • Neutrality and the progressive ethos in information professions
  • Radical, progressive, and social justice librarianship
  • Codes of conduct and ethics in contemporary information professions
  • Marginalized voices in information studies scholarship
  • Recent and ongoing library programs and interventions affecting marginalized communities
  • Indigenous, postcolonial, anti-racist, feminist, queer, disability, and anti-capitalist theory in information work
  • Communication obstacles and strategies in social justice
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