Brother Corry Lecture: Social Justice and Information Literacy

By Kevin Quinn, DLIS Graduate Assistant

On Wednesday, November 16th, 2016, St. John’s University Division of Library and Information Science held the 2nd Annual Brother Emmett Corry Lecture on Social Justice in Librarianship, at the Queens campus of St. John’s University. The inaugural Brother Corry Lecture, held in 2015, was a great success that brought together both students and faculty to celebrate the life and mission of Brother Emmett Corry. This year, in continuing to develop the ‘Social Justice in Librarianship’ conversation, the SJU DLIS brought in Katelyn Angell, First Year Success Librarian/Assistant Professor at Long Island University (Brooklyn), to headline the 2016 Brother Corry Lecture. Ms. Angell gave a presentation entitled “Teaching Students to Critique and Question Authority: A Social Justice Approach to Library Instruction.”

The presentation highlighted how Ms. Angell, and colleague Eamon Tewell, approach library instruction by engaging first-year students with a non-traditional approach. Ms. Angell described how decentralizing authority would allow students to have more ownership of their learning. This could include options such as students choosing the topics they learn throughout the semester, and/or students collaborating to create the class syllabi. Ms. Angell also spoke on how she promotes and develops sound research practices and information literacy amongst her first-year students. She shared the detailed, multi-visit, research lesson that she assigns to all of the first-year students during mandatory library sessions. During their time with Ms. Angell, students are asked to group together and solve specific research questions using different mediums. Students must then identify, gather, and discern credible information that could answer those questions, and share their findings during these library sessions.

While these two topics were the crux of Ms. Angell’s presentation, the Q&A portion of the presentation was equally as interesting as questions, comments, and discussion progressed way past the allotted 15 minutes. The audience seemed intrigued by the presentation and had an array of questions and suggestions for Ms. Angell who was very poised, accommodating, and reflective during the conversation.

It’s safe to say that this years Corry Lecture provided both the attendees, and the presenter, with a valuable forum to further the development of social justice in librarianship.

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