Libraries Promoting Reflective Dialogue in a Time of Political Polarization

Libraries Promoting Reflective Dialogue cover

ACRL announces the publication of Libraries Promoting Reflective Dialogue in a Time of Political Polarization, edited by Andrea Baer, Ellysa Stern Cahoy, and Robert Schroeder. This collection explores the various ways in which librarians experience and respond to political polarization and its effects, both in our everyday work and in our professional communities.  

As political polarization has continued to grow within and beyond the United States in past decades, the challenges of engaging in open and constructive dialogue have become increasingly apparent. The effects of this tension are evident in numerous aspects of library work, including interactions and relationships in our local contexts and in our larger professional community, as well as all areas of the library—classrooms, collections, technology, management, programming, LIS programs, and library spaces.

Reflective dialogue asks us to pause before reacting, to ground ourselves in a sense of compassion for ourselves and others, and to use that grounding to open a space to listen and to speak with the goal of recognizing a shared humanity and appreciating difference. Libraries Promoting Reflective Dialogue in a Time of Political Polarization explores ways to incorporate this practice into your work in four sections:

  • Libraries as Dialogic Spaces: Limits and Possibilities
  • Dialogue amid Polarization and Extreme Skepticism: Challenges and Opportunities
  • Special Collections and Archives: Past and Present in Conversation
  • The Information Literacy Classroom: Uneasy Questions, Creative Responses

Divisive times can spark positive social change with more intentional reflection, listening, and empathy across social groups and identities. Libraries Promoting Reflective Dialogue in a Time of Political Polarization can be a catalyst and a resource for reflective and constructive dialogue, and a prompt for asking hard and sometimes uncomfortable questions about what reflective dialogue is, what forms it might take and in what contexts, who it does or does not include, and what its possibilities and limitations are.

A companion website to the book is also available.

Libraries Promoting Reflective Dialogue in a Time of Political Polarization is available for purchase in print and as an ebook through the ALA Online Store; in print through Amazon.com; and by telephone order at (866) 746-7252 in the U.S. or (770) 442-8633 for international customers.