This exploratory qualitative study examines how whiteness functions in the field of library and information science (LIS) within higher education institutions. Utilizing a critical phenomenological approach, three questions guided the inquiry: (1) How is whiteness embodied by academic librarians, (2) What perceptions do academic librarians hold that contribute to the maintenance or disruption of habits of whiteness in libraries, and (3) How and where is whiteness embedded within academic library settings and the field of LIS?

The aim was to begin understanding whiteness in libraries as an experientially-grounded and systemically reproduced phenomena. Four academic librarians participated in semi-structured interviews that explored participant identity and experiences with race, specifically whiteness, in their professional lives. Data were analyzed using a cyclical coding approach resulting in six themes. This research may contribute to a better understanding of the way libraries function as racial projects and can assist librarians in seeing the importance of adopting critical reflexivity as a tool for recognizing and disrupting systemic habits of white normativity in libraries.


This is a post-print Authors’ Accepted Manuscript. The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in The Journal of Academic Librarianship - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2022.102557


whiteness in libraries, academic libraries, critical race theory, critical whiteness studies, critical phenomenology

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