The Self as Subject: Autoethnographic Research into Identity, Culture, and Academic Librarianship. Anne-Marie Deitering, Robert Schroeder, and Richard Stoddart, eds. Chicago: American Library Association, 2017. 361p. Paper, $70.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-8892-3).

Joseph Aubele

Abstract

Much of the professional literature in information and library science focuses on bringing new, sometimes significantly different, perspectives on what is already known. From reference services to information literacy instruction, collection development to patron services, innumerable works have been published with the intention of drawing the attention of the profession on how to enhance the work we do and challenging readers to think about that work differently. Instead of where much of the professional literature focuses upon the activities of librarians, what if the research were to focus upon the librarians themselves, and the general understanding that can be gained from the experiences of individuals? Librarians at varying stages of their respective careers view themselves and the profession differently, and the unique stories they tell may help others better understand their own attitudes about their work. Meanwhile, in recent years the matter of identity, how each of us sees (and defines) ourselves and how we wish to be perceived by others, has become increasingly complex. Matters of racial, ethnic, and sexual identity have moved from something socially constructed toward something much more personally defined. Specific to librarianship, the various and sundry librarian stereotypes are well known, and compounding those stereotypes, at least for academic librarians, is a general lack of knowledge about what we do. At the intersection of these two, disparate spheres is this collaborative effort to illuminate who academic librarians are, and how that impacts their professional endeavors. Using an autoethnographic methodology, they provide a unique and welcome approach to revealing some of the diversity, both professional and personal, to be found among librarians.

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