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Information Access, Systemic Oppression, and Incarceration
Dr. Jeanie Austin, San Francisco Public Library 

State control of information is foundational to incarceration in the United States, from religious penitentiary libraries and efforts to bar people who were enslaved from becoming literate and to contemporary jail and prison practices.  This presentation positions State efforts to regulate information access within carceral institutions against organizing by people who are incarcerated and their advocates.  The contested forms of control described include prison and jail efforts to wholesale ban access to physical books or letters, the lack of funding for prison libraries, and tacit or explicit censorship.   While people who are or are formerly incarcerated have promoted the humanizing value of having access to desired information, these calls have not broadly been taken up within LIS.  The work of groups who provide free book access to people who are incarcerated, education programs within prisons, and publishers and media production groups that specifically promote work by incarcerated people provide examples of how LIS might push against systemic oppression by increasing the avenues for incarcerated people to access information.  Jeanie Austin earned their PhD in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Their research interests and activities include the provision of library services to people in juvenile detentions, jails, and prisons.  They primarily examine the complex political and social systems that surround this work. They are interested in the incorporation of critical praxis in LIS and in the critical evaluation of technology’s roles in carceral institutions and policing practices.

Mar 25, 2021 12:30 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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