Critical Literacies: Digital Literacy, Social Justice, and the Academic Library


The realities of position scope creep faced by many librarians, and the urgent needs of our students, mean that digital literacy instruction has become an integral part of the labor performed by many librarians engaged in reference, instruction, and other student support functions. In attempting to meet student needs in the moment, are we doing our students and ourselves a disservice? How could bringing planning and intention to the provision of digital literacy support services help students and empower librarians as advocates for student needs?

By speaking to these difficult questions, I hope to problematize the assumption made by many instructors, administrators, and even librarians that students who are “digital natives” are entering college with the computer proficiency they need to succeed. By shedding light onto the often unseen, unacknowledged and uncompensated labor many librarians are putting into supporting these users we reflect on how such invisible labor may in fact mask larger issues of educational inequity.

After exploring the social justice implications of limited access to digital literacy support for already marginalized students as well as the effects of related scope creep on librarians, this presentation will describe how a reference coordinator and instruction librarian at an urban public comprehensive university has begun to strategically address gaps in students’ digital literacy competencies.

Attendees can expect to leave this session with strategies to help librarians define an acceptable scope for their digital literacy instruction services, identify opportunities to integrate digital literacy competencies into existing instruction, develop campus partnerships, and advocate for the necessary resources within and outside the library to support this essential work.

Maggie Clarke, Reference Coordinator, CSUDH
Fri 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Engaging in Practice