Liberate the Library: What it Means to Decolonise and Why it is Necessary

Clarke, Marilyn. 2021. Liberate the Library: What it Means to Decolonise and Why it is Necessary. In: Jess Crilly and Regina Everitt, eds. Narrative Expansions: Interpreting Decolonisation in Academic Libraries. London: Facet Publishing. ISBN 9781783304974 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This chapter will discuss the commitment to anti-racist practice by library workers who seek to engage with social movements - predominantly led and created by university students and progressive academics - calling for social justice in educational spaces, in particular, the westernised university, which has many sites around the world due to the ongoing influence of the Empire and colonialism. It will look at how our praxis as library workers is steeped in racism and coloniality, hence the use of the term ‘decolonisation’ and/or ‘decoloniality’. It will also focus on the work of the Liberate our Library initiative at my current institution, Goldsmiths, University of London, which posits itself in the arena of critical librarianship, which draws from critical theory, critical information literacy, and critical race theory (CRT) which asks library workers to ‘consider the historical, cultural, social, economic, political and other forces that affect information’. (Gregory and Higgins, 2013,7). hooks writes of the classroom as a space to experience freedom and eventually empowerment through rethinking teaching practices that lead to systemic changes around race and representation. So too can library workers ‘transgress’ by rethinking professional practices that disempower and silence certain voices and experiences, and instead work with educators and users to empower the voices kept silent for far too long.

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Book Section

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This is a preprint of a chapter accepted for publication by Facet Publishing. This extract has been taken from the author’s original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive version of this piece may be found in 'Narrative Expansions: Interpreting Decolonisation in Academic Libraries', Jess Crilly, Regina Everitt, 2021, Facet, London and can be purchased from The author agrees not to update the preprint or replace it with the published version of the chapter.


anti-racist practices, library workers, decolonisation, critical librarianship, Goldsmiths

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9 December 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

20 Dec 2021 12:00

Last Modified:

20 Dec 2021 15:14


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