Access and accessibility to knowledge for research and professional practice has implications for social equity and democracy. Library and information services have many opportunities to make knowledge discoverable, retrievable and useable, but on many occasions are instead (actively or passively) complicit in maintaining a status quo that feeds social inequality. In this presentation, Lauren will combine work by key theorists in the field, empirical research into information experiences and practices, and her own experiences of establishing an evidence search and summary service for the social services workforce of over 200,000 across Scotland. She will explore issues of access, accessibility and user experience to consider the social justice implications of practices in library and information services, including scholarly communications and systems.
This talk will articulate how imbalanced power relations across librarianship and the systems we promote reflect those of society, and offer insights into how, through evidence-based, reflective practice, we can harness the transformative potential of library and information services to improve outcomes for society through democratising access to knowledge. It will explore how critical approaches to user experience, privacy and openness could act as as springboards to change structures within library and information services. With these tools we may mitigate against the inequalities caused by problems such as inaccessibility, algorithmic bias and ideologically-driven policies in the context of educational and workplace information practices, and maximise beneficial outcomes for the public good.