Presentation delivered at the 2021 Charleston Conference.


As educational institutions consider our values and ethical standards in the wake of 2020, libraries need to scrutinize how those values and standards connect with our licensing and purchasing decisions. “Critical Librarianship”, which is based on a foundation of social justice, the belief that everyone deserves equal opportunities and basic economic, political, and social rights, is at the forefront of work being done by librarians across the country. There is an existing body of literature about the contents of the library collections themselves, with respect to issues like decolonization and open access. These collections, used by students, instructors, and researchers, are integral to the learning ecosystem of the university. However, there is little research regarding the specific business relationships we maintain in order to acquire these resources. Are the values of our partners in the publishing ecosystem aligned with ours? What should we do if a publisher makes decisions or takes actions that go against our stated principles, but their content is relevant to the ongoing work of our users? What are the broader implications for our communities of doing business with these publishers? Precisely whose values need to be taken into account when making these decisions? Balancing the needs of our users with the principles of critical librarianship is a challenge faced by all collections librarians. Librarians from Purdue University take a critical approach to identifying the values of their institution at multiple levels, including a newly released Libraries strategic plan, to create a values-based rubric for future collection assessment. This presentation will address these difficult questions and discuss the process of turning institutional values into a tool for collections decisions. We will also discuss the larger implications in education licenses and purchases beyond the library and how this model could be expanded to consider additional business relationships on campus.


collections, critical librarianship, critical collections, values, publishers, publishing, rubric, values based decision making, ethics

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