Library Juice Academy

Online Professional Development for Librarians

Exploring and Applying Critical Theory: An Introduction for Librarians

Instructor: Jessica Critten

Dates: Not currently scheduled

Credits: 1.5 CEUs or 15 PDHs

Price: $175

Critical approaches to librarianship help us think about the ways that our work is fundamentally political and theoretical. These approaches firmly assert that social justice should be central goal and professional responsibility of librarianship and are used, therefore, to inform more inclusive policy, curriculum, and communication. As critical librarianship gains in popularity and visibility there is a growing demand for spaces where beginners can explore and unpack what it means to be ‘critical.’

This course will aim to provide such a space, focusing specifically on theory as a core dimension of critical librarianship. Theory is often perceived as a barrier to entry for participation in critical conversations and practices, so this course will aim to explore what theory is and what it does, some fundamentals of theory, and how to identify theories and epistemologies that resonate with each practitioner. We will discuss (among others) the broad concepts of epistemology, ontology, empiricism/positivism, and social constructionism. In the course of exploring the basics of theory in this way, we will also critique how theory is often conceived of and used in scholarly discourse. We will end the course by exploring the way that theory informs practice towards social good (praxis).

By the end of the course, students will have:

  • Examined how theory functions to shape critical projects, specifically critical library work.
  • Identified and discussed foundational theoretical concepts.
  • Engaged in self-reflection to build and/or refine their own theoretical point of view.
  • Explored how theory is integrated into their everyday practice.
Jessica Critten

Jessica Critten is the Pedagogy and Assessment Program Lead at Auraria Library in Denver, CO, which serves the Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and the University of Colorado Denver. Her current research examines applications of standpoint epistemology in information literacy instruction and the rhetoric of evidence-based practice in LIS. She is a graduate of Florida State University, where she received her MLIS and an MA in interdisciplinary humanities.

Course Structure

This is an online class that is taught asynchronously, meaning that participants do the work on their own time as their schedules allow. The class does not meet together at any particular times, although the instructor may set up optional sychronous chat sessions. Instruction includes readings and assignments in one-week segments. Class participation is in an online forum environment.

Please contact us to arrange a special session of this class for a group of seven or more, with a negotiable discount, or to be notified when it is next scheduled.