Transforming Knowledge Creation: An Action Framework for Library Technology Diversity

Article summary for Transforming Knowledge Creation: An Action Framework for Library Technology Diversity by Barbara I. Dewey.

by Kayleigh Septer, Valerie Valicento, Dixie Jorns, Emily Wells, Jennifer Braden for INFO 275(10)


The article focuses on forming an action framework, or plan, to increase diversity in library technology. The action framework developed consists of five dimensions, people, content and pedagogy, embeddedness and global perspective, leadership, and weaving it all together. The action framework is to be developed through knowledge creation. According to Dewey (2015), “the process of knowledge creation needs be inclusive and expansive if its purpose is to advance understanding, solve global problems, and advance the human condition” (p. 1).

Core Research Questions

Each dimension of the action framework has a diversity issue it was designed to improve. Dimension one, people, is designed to improve the lack of diversity and gender equity in computer and information students. Dimension two, content and pedagogy, is intended to improve the gaps in the content of academic libraries’ collection. Dimension three, embeddedness and global perspective, is designed to improve integration and understanding of other groups. Dimension four, leadership, is designed to have librarians play a leadership role by embracing people and their ideas. The fifth dimension, bringing everything together, is an approach to advance knowledge creation through thought, practice, and diverse cultural perspectives.

Methods Used to Answer the Research Question(s)

In dimension one, people; Dewey discusses the Penn State Library Diversity Residency Program. This program is a two-year program that allows graduates from “historically underrepresented groups” to be placed into a two-year academic library position (Dewey, 2015, p. 3). These placements allow the participants to “…develop collegial relationships with Penn State faculty members and provide support in a variety of ways for students” (Dewey, 2015, p. 4). If positions are available, residents of the program are encouraged to seek continued employment with the university after their initial two years.

Dimension two, content and pedagogy, discusses the University of Texas Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative, which is used to collect “radically different but critically important content and the importance of their use” (Dewey, 2015, p. 4). Dewey also looks at Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, an exhibit permanently housed at the Brooklyn Museum. This exhibit provides insight into women’s culture from a feminist perspective.

In dimension three, embeddedness and the global perspective, Dewey (2015), emphasizes “’knowing’ from within groups, cultures, regions and perspectives” (p. 6). This involves looking at the framework from a “global perspective” and acknowledging “the broad context of scholarship, as well as the imperative for diverse perspectives and connections” (Dewey, 2015, p. 6). Looking at the framework from this point of view allows it to be seen with a more critical lens and allows for different perspectives.

Dimension four, leadership, discusses how a leader must be if they wish to be a part of the global framework of diversity. Dewey (2015) states “the leadership traits in dimension four are empathy, strategic vision, and commitment to collaboration” (p. 6). Without these characters, leaders will not be effective within the global framework.

Dimension five is about bringing all of the dimensions together and making the Framework for Library Technology Diversity. All of these dimensions, when brought together, create an effective framework for diversity in the library world.

Findings and Conclusions

Fostering diversity must be recognized as being a core component of the academic institution’s ongoing mission. Contending that knowledge creation is essential to keeping the institution’s libraries relevant, it is critical that this knowledge needs to be inclusive and expansive. In order to accomplish this, it is suggested that academic libraries and institutions must embrace and develop a strategy that addresses training and preparing library technology workers in order to meet the challenges of building and maintaining “a diverse, inclusive, and equitable institution” (Dewey, 2015, p. 1).
As a means of working to accomplish this, libraries must identify training needs and procedures for recruitment in order to develop and retain a knowledgeable staff regarding diversity and inclusion. The five dimensions, as part of the Framework for Library Technology Diversity, work to provide a basic foundation for achieving this goal. With challenges framed within the five dimensions, an approach is provided that will allow organizations to develop a plan of action for technology diversity in the library workplace.

Unanswered Questions You Have and What Future Research Might Address

While the dimensions of the framework are thorough, the article still leaves the question of how well this framework would perform once implemented. Implementation and its effects will not happen overnight, but even at a slow pace there is still a solution. As these dimensions are put into action, research can be done to assess how close each one is to achieving the desired results. Information also appears to be missing regarding how these implementations will be marketed to the community.

Many references are made to improving services for women, but lacks mention of other minority groups or poverty. Also, there is the question of how much input from diverse community members was gathered for the creation of the framework. Did the author do research to find out exactly what positions and programs are desired? Aside from the aforementioned feminist perspective, where else would the proposed indigenous knowledge come from? Most importantly, where will the new leadership come from, and how will the positive traits of that leadership be maintained? It may be important to address potential failures within the framework and how those failures would be handled, especially in regards to bad leadership.

The programs designed to increase diversity in the LIS field were well presented but seem heavily dependent on technology. What is being done to reach those without such capabilities, either by choice or circumstance? If technology is not central to a culture what will be done so it is not forgotten in the greater world of knowledge? Will the diverse hires be encouraged to bridge that gap more often than their non-diverse peers?

Future research must be focused on how the desired programs will be run. It is not wise to assume that applied diversity will result in instant and miraculous changes. What will be done to address existing bias, prejudice and discrimination? If the environment is not willing to welcome diversity, then the newly hired person will not feel comfortable and may leave. An overall adjustment of an organization’s structure is necessary if any of the article’s visions will be fulfilled. The article mentions the necessity of solid and positive leadership without suggesting what is to be done about present leadership. The obvious solution of creating leaders from diverse hires is not mentioned. What is being done to have more diverse library leaders and not just diverse LIS students or staff?

Furthermore, it would be wise to consider extending the time span of the program itself or to have multiple programs through which a person may advance. A long-term mentorship program that starts after graduation and through employment is one possible solution. This program would create a supportive and safe space for those of similar diverse backgrounds to make connections until more diversity is in place.

One thought on “Transforming Knowledge Creation: An Action Framework for Library Technology Diversity”

  1. This article envisions a new framework for library technology diversity which incorporates aspects from five different programs. These five distinct dimensions, are based on programs that were developed in their own contexts and backgrounds. These programs may work well on their own but it is hard to say how effective they will be altogether. In theory it seems logical but as mentioned in the unanswered questions there are bound to be implementation issues. The diagram in the paper showing the five dimensions has a surprising oversight. The two circles for the 1st Dimension – People and 4th Dimension – Leadership do not intersect. In order to have a healthy and diverse organization, the aspects of People and Leadership should overlap or share many of the same qualities.

    The issues and concerns are all described in a thoughtful and timely manner. Mention of future implementation is a strong concern. If the plan is to fulfill its goals, a structure must be set forward to understand how that will be conceived and achieved. Understandably, there should be more focus on technology, as it is so prevalent in our world today. If using technology is not an option due to other circumstances, then another plan should be determined to foster the desired outcome. Lastly, leadership is extremely important in any organization. It is agreed that this plan doesn’t put enough focus on how the members will lead and carry the goals forward.

    One point was made that the program is heavily dependent on technology, but there may be a few reasons for that. First, most things are geared to technology and therefore they don’t want the program to become obsolete. Secondly,it might help to justify not downsizing the program, and lastly it may help with funding.

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