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“Nice White Meetings”: Unpacking Absurd Library Bureaucracy through a Critical Race Theory Lens

“Nice White Meetings”: Unpacking Absurd Library Bureaucracy through a Critical Race Theory Lens

Lalitha Nataraj
California State University at San Marcos
Holly Hampton
California State University at San Marcos
Talitha R. Matlin
California State University at San Marcos
Yvonne Nalani Meulemans
California State University at San Marcos
A B S T R A C T
Although the issues of diversity and representation are often discussed within academic
librarianship in Canada and the United States, the field has made little headway in being inclusive
of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) who work within it. If academic libraries
are to become truly authentic and inclusive spaces where BIPOC are central not only to shaping the
values of a library but also to determining how those values are accomplished, we must examine the
traditional ways in which libraries function. One of these traditions is a reliance on bureaucracy
and its associated practices such as structured group work and meetings, which are presumed to
be inherently neutral and rational ways of working. Critical examinations of bureaucracy within
higher education reveal how its overadoption is absurdly at odds with the social justice–oriented
missions of most libraries. Furthermore, not all who are involved in libraries are equally harmed
through this overreliance on bureaucracy; this article employs Critical Race Theory to uncover the
insidious and specific deleterious impacts bureaucracy can have on BIPOC library workers. The
antithesis of a neutral system, bureaucracy instead functions to force assimilation into a system
entrenched in whiteness.
Keywords:
Critical Race Theory
library bureaucracy
meeting culture
white supremacy

Posted on: January 7, 2021, 6:14 am Category: Uncategorized

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