Owing to the scope and pace of change, society has become increasingly knowledge-based so that higher learning and research now act as essential components of cultural, socio-economic and environmentally sustainable development of individuals, communities and nations. In this environment, it is essential that higher learning and knowledge creation involve effective partnerships among academic and non-academic learning institutions and communities to create and apply learning and knowledge with stakeholders that are managing and creating sustainable development initiatives. Growing concern regarding the importance of the contribution that higher education institutions make to society has aroused increasing debate about their relevance and credibility amid escalating social problems. An underlying premise of community engagement is the understanding that not all knowledge and expertise resides in the academy, and that both expertise and great learning opportunities in teaching and scholarship also reside in non-academic settings.
This conference will explore how LIS educators and researchers can develop curricula, programs, and research activities that enable active partnerships with communities and civil society to manage and create change. How can LIS programs increase opportunities for experiential, service oriented, and community engaged student learning? How can we develop further collaboration between LIS programs and their larger communities (local, regional/ state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity?
In 1963, Frances Cummings, an African-American mother and resident of Chicago Public Housing voiced to city officials the need for her neighborhood to have a library. She asserted that the lack of access to a library center would hinder community education. She spoke boldly about the city’s poor planning and lack of insight in public housing communities ("Blast City for Lack of Near Southside Library”, 1963). Frances Cummings was a representative speaker of a group of organized mothers seeking equity of access and justice by using their voices collectively to shed light on the disregard of their community. The nearly eight-year struggle of these women exemplifies what Belenky, Bond, & Weinstock (1999) call the tradition that has no name. Women in this tradition, who are on the margins and designated as ‘other’ come to voice. This presentation will illuminate theoretically the metaphor of voice (Belenky et. al., 1999; Collins, 1998; hooks, 1990; Lorde, 2007)in the context of African-American activist-mothers’ organizing network and recognition of information inaccessibility. It is informed by a case of women fighting for library facilities in 1960’s Chicago public housing (Gray, 2015). The case provides the community view of information access while revealing the influence of informal information community networks. The presentation explores theoretically the concept of voice, examines voice in the African-American female activist tradition, highlights the complexity of the strategic usage of voice within the context of social capital (Williams & Durrance, 2008; Domínguez & Watkins, 2003), and presents a proposed theoretical frame for the collective Black Feminist (Collins, 2000) voice within community-based information environments.