According to the United Nations (2018), social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.
Libraries have become essential to upholding the sentiments expressed in the quote above. In this era of divisiveness and exclusion, they endeavour to foster access to resources and information for their patrons and the general public. They also educate their students and faculty on issues regarding privacy, confidentiality, information privilege, and the ethical use of information. Libraries are also a beacon of intellectual freedom, striving to ensure that different points of view are represented.
In celebration of United Nations World Day of Social Justice (February 20th), two librarians at a multicultural metropolitan research university decided to organize Crowdsourcing Social Justice, a one-day event of workshops, lectures, and collaborative activities promoting equality and the elimination of barriers due to gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, or disability.
The workshops combined the use of various open access software and platforms such as Scalar, Wikipedia, ArcGIS Online, and Worldcat with social justice issues such as accessibility, healthcare, gender equality, and education. Attendees received instruction on how to work with the technology before embarking in collaborative projects.
The merging of these technologies with social justice issues was no accident. The librarians had been working with many of these tools for a long time and had noticed their value as storytelling devices. They believed the event would demonstrate to the university community the power these tools can have beyond the academic world while reinforcing the librarys role in fostering and promoting inclusion and social justice. It was also an excellent avenue to remind students of the privilege of access to information and technology, and encourage them pay it forward and by using their own access to promote access for all.
This paper will discuss the process of organizing Crowdsourcing Social Justice, from choosing the issues and tools to be explored (and their challenges) to reaching out to partners in the university community. It will also explore the promotion of the event as well as informal feedback from participants. Finally, it will discuss plans for the future including a possible collaboration with another institution.
United Nations. (2018). World day of social justice. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/events/socialjusticeday/
Discover the potential of different technologies as storytelling devices
Discover the potential of the library and the different technologies as tools for activism
Identify potential opportunities for hosting similar events at their home institutions