"The Soup We are In”: Reflections on Post-neutrality Librarianship

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

The concept of neutrality has long been central to debates on and within librarianship. In the fall of 2021, the online symposium Post-neutrality Librarianship gathered library professionals from research and practice to discuss the concept of post-neutrality and how it manifests regionally, contextually, in societies, and communities. The papers and presentations represented international perspectives on neutrality and post-neutrality in relation to academic, university, and public libraries. From the perspectives of two participating researchers, this paper offers a reflexive summary of the symposium. Although post-neutrality librarianship was the theme of the symposium, a central part of the discussions centered on the questions of neutrality or post-neutrality and whether being neutral is, in fact, possible. Such questions impose a binary reading of neutrality and post-neutrality, which echoes historical debates about library neutrality. This paper problematizes such binary readings of neutrality and post-neutrality. By introducing examples of historical neutrality debates through a discourse analysis framework, the paper seeks to exemplify how the concept of post-neutrality bears with it certain narratives and discourses about neutrality, which co-exist within librarianship today. Acknowledging the interrelation between these concepts allows for reflexive readings and nuanced discussions of librarianship in the era of post-neutrality. The paper, then, summarizes central discussions from the symposium under three dominating themes: the role of libraries, the role of librarians, and the role of LIS education, all relating to how and why LIS professionals, librarians, and researchers should navigate in the future.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Library Quarterly
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)602-621
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 326673121