Libraries. We’ve all spent our fair share of time cramming, talking and sleeping in their vicinities. The reality is, they are more often than not a focal point of any university, with students at rival universities often debating about the differences in provision and facilities. What else do libraries do apart from serve us usefully in their capacity as a physical space? They hold books, thousands of them, lining the shelves of every corner, pouring their contents into the minds of every student that walks through those doors, learning and growing with each volume consumed. It’s important for us to play the role of devil’s advocate in questioning the things we’re exposed to.
Is the actual content within these books accurate? Is it diverse and representative? Does it stimulate critical thinking and meaningfully develop the understanding of the reader? The reality is, that our collections, alongside almost every library in UK universities, are inherently biased. They favour narratives which are overwhelmingly transmitted through a Eurocentric lens, a worldview which is centred on, and in favour of, western civilisations over their non-western counterparts.
How familiar are we with the pervasive effects colonial history have had and continue to have on our society? Think about all the scholarly knowledge and narratives that have been hidden from us all this time, there’s so much for us to learn! Ultimately, decolonising/liberating our bookshelves and libraries involves looking at the books we need and love, and examining whether or not they’ve had a role in upholding acts of colonialism. It means actively seeking out authors and genres disadvantaged by colonialism and western dominance, and giving them their rightful space on our bookshelves.
And so, that brings me on to our wonderful Library services team, who have come up with an initiative to finally Liberate City. To get involved all you need to do is follow the link, complete the online form and request a book for the library to then purchase and stock Library https://blogs.city.ac.uk/library/2020/02/04/liberating-citylibrary/.
We need to come together in this quest to diversify our libraries, reading lists and universities! Keep us updated on any recommendations you put forward, and know that with every addition you bring to our bookshelves, you’ll be helping our 19,000+ students to learn and grow.