Category Archives: critical pedagogy

July 15, 2015, 10:22 pm

My Final Blog Post

May 22, 2006. That’s when I started The Ubiquitous Librarian Blog. I wrote before at Alt-Ref where I explored new approaches for reference and instruction. But I felt too boxed in. Ubiquitous gave me freedom to roam.

It ends today. Right here.

 407 posts

9 years  1 month  23 days

When the Chronicle of Higher Education informed me that they were dropping the Blog Network I was sad. But after a few days I got over it, mostly. I realized they had given me a gift. This was a chance to move on and do other things.

I’ve probably written and presented too much over the last decade. I’m looking forward to letting that taper off. I want to focus on Virginia Tech and the great people, projects, and programs we have here.


Me as a soldier in the name of greater library experiences.

Rick Anderson says we…

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July 14, 2015, 9:03 pm

Raising the volume on HipHopEd. An interview with Joycelyn Wilson.

JoycelynI’ve had many great conversations with Joycelyn Wilson (Assistant Professor, Education, Virginia Tech) about music, history, Atlanta, and teaching—actually, all of those things combined together.

She came to the library a few years ago seeking guidance with her vinyl collection—it is great to see what she has done with it. Joycelyn is a leader in hip hop and education—I’m glad we got to explore that theme a bit here.

What is the Hip Hop Imagination? 

The Hip Hop Imagination is both conceptual and methodological in that it allows for the use of practices, sensibilities, and artifacts unique to Hip Hop culture in learning environments. Think about it as a pair of glasses; like a lens made up of these Hip Hop-influenced aesthetics. When you put them on you see the world through Hip Hop. It’s primarily informed by the sociological imagination of C. Wright Mills and…

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July 12, 2015, 11:58 pm

Feminisms & Interaction Design. An Interview with Jennifer Sano-Franchini.


I’m a reader for a teaching award at Virginia Tech called XCaliber (shorthand for exceptional, high-caliber work.) It recognizes individual faculty members or teams of faculty and staff who integrate technology into teaching and learning. The award celebrates innovative, student-centered approaches. I enjoy reviewing the packets because I always learn so much about interesting pedagogical approaches all across campus. 


Jennifer Sano-Franchini

A recent recipient was Jennifer Sano-Franchini, assistant professor in the Department of English. She received the honor for a course on Feminisms & Interaction Design. I was fascinated by this combination and asked her some questions. She agreed to be interviewed and provided an interesting model for critical pedodogy. I recommend checking out her Course Syllabus; i…

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July 2, 2015, 12:55 pm

Hip Hop Librarian Spins Info Lit. An Interview With Craig Arthur

Craig Arthur

Craig Arthur (Radford)

Earlier I wrote about Carrie Donovan’s Keynote at the The Innovative Library Classroom Conference. There was another presentation that I found inspiring: Can You Kick It?  Bringing Hip Hop Pedagogy To The Library Classroom by Craig Arthur, Instruction Librarian at Radford University.

During the session Craig used two turntables to lead a discussion on plagiarism. He was kind enough to answer a few questions.

How did you get into hip hop?
I started buying music just as Hip Hop became “popular music.” The earliest memory I have of listening to hip hop music was riding the bus on a field trip seated next to an elementary school friend. He had a copy of a Too Short tape and one of those mind-blowingly fresh yellow Sony Walkmans. He must have owed me a favor because I remember…

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June 10, 2015, 1:56 pm

Practicing Critical Information Literacy. Interview with Troy Swanson.


Troy Swanson

Troy Swanson is the teaching and learning librarian and Library department chair at Moraine Valley Community College. His article A Radical Step: Implementing A Critical Information Literacy Model (published in 2004) was my first exposure to critical theory in librarianship.

Let’s keep these critical interviews rolling before they pull the plug on this blog.

You have stated that librarians have long been champions of intellectual freedom and that you see critical information literacy as an extension of this value. Could you tell me more about that?

TS: I have always felt that the value of critical information literacy (applying critical pedagogy to information literacy) is as a lens through which to view the cycle of information production within society. Information products (whether online or in a…

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June 8, 2015, 1:55 pm

From Teaching To Consulting: Librarians as Information Literacy Designers. An Interview with Carrie Donovan.


Carrie Donovan

A few weeks ago I heard Carrie Donovan (Head of Teaching and Learning, Indiana University Libraries ) give a keynote address at The Innovative Library Classroom Conference.

Here are the slides from her talk: Shaking up the Sediment:  Re-energizing Pedagogical Practice while Avoiding Bottle Shock. And here are  slides from the other presentations at the conference.

My main takeaway was the transition that Carrie is experiencing from teaching to consulting. This is a theme that seems to be gaining momentum; I’m seeing fragments of this concept appear more frequently. It seems we are at the doorstep (threshold?) of an evolutionary leap in terms of information literacy and library instruction. I asked Carrie a few questions about this transformation.

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June 5, 2015, 2:53 am

Should librarians challenge the status quo? An interview with Laura Saunders

Should librarians challenge the status quo?

I decided to ask a professor. Laura Saunders is an Assistant Professor at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science, where she teaches and conducts research in the areas of reference and instruction, intellectual freedom, and academic libraries. She also has a strong interest in social justice issues related to libraries.

You’ve mentioned online that libraries should challenge the status quo. Tell me about that.
I think there are a lot of issues and challenges that libraries could weigh in on and hopefully influence for the better.  Perhaps most important is thinking about our communities and the ways in which we serve (and fail to serve) them. While the mission and ethics of libraries center on equitable services, in reality the research shows that certain demographics use our services much more heavily than …

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June 3, 2015, 10:21 am

Conformity vs. Scrutiny: Radical Information Literacy. An interview with Andrew Whitworth

Here is a quick interview with Andrew Whitworth, Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Manchester and Programme Director of the MA: Digital Technologies, Communication and Education. He published Radical Information Literacy: Reclaiming the Political Heart of the IL Movement.

What is radical information literacy?

Well, I did try at points to give clear definitions of key terms. Page 167 is as succinct as I ever get:

“IL, or more precisely, information literate behaviour, can be defined as practices that sustain learning and the potential for transformation within communities and their [information] landscapes. Radical IL is the subset of these practices which lift those potentials up into practice, transforming information landscapes through scrutiny and review of the cognitive authorities that penetrate them.”

Mainstream IL – competency-based,…

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June 1, 2015, 3:16 pm

Shaping Radical Librarianship: (brief) Interview with Rory Litwin

I was in grad school when I first encountered Library Juice – an email-based zine filled with socially progressive essays and other reflections. It was dramatically different than the esoteric journals we were using in class.

The spirit of the work was inspiring. This was pre-blogs — Library Juice demonstrated that you could develop a voice and audience using non-traditional formats. It had a strong DYI ethos and expanded my perspective on librarianship.

Rory Litwin
Photo courtesy of INALJ

Rory Litwin was the creative force behind the project. He went on to start Library Juice Press focusing on theoretical and practical issues in librarianship from a critical perspective.

The infusion of critical theory within librarianship has been gaining momentum. And Rory’s efforts have helped shape many of those conversations…

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March 4, 2015, 4:13 am

Confronting the Unexpected: Pink Time & Intrinsic Learning



A few weeks ago I met up with Tim Baird (Geography, Virginia Tech) to tour the library and talk about pedagogy. We discussed a handful of topics and I tried to capture the spirit of our conversation in this post. Tim has received a lot of attention across campus (here and here) for his Pink Time concept. Let’s start with that.

The short version: he encourages students to skip class three times a semester and to invest that time learning whatever they want. Students then report on what they did and assign themselves a grade based on the experience. The impetus for this approach was inspired by Daniel Pink, hence the name—Pink Time.

Here is a table outlining the students’ Pink Time activities: (from Journal of Geography, 2015)


 The Element of…

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