Information technology and school libraries: A social justice perspective

Punit Dadlani, Ross J. Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This research takes an emergent approach to data analysis (Charmaz, 2008) through the use of an emic/etic data coding process, and proposes a typology for understanding the connection between social justice principles and the provision of information technology services in school libraries. The study used data from seven school libraries in the state of New Jersey, obtained from focus groups consisting of forty-eight teachers, eighteen librarians, ten department supervisors, eleven principals/assistant principals, four district directors, and three librarian-teachers. The emergent process and typology employed in this research can aid school libraries in assessing how particular factors of the school/school library environment influence the provision of IT services to school library users. This study confirmed that school librarians and teachers rely on several social justice principles, such as distributive justice, utilitarianism, and egalitarianism, in making decisions regarding how to provide information technology services within the school environment. In particular, it was found that the type of social justice principle used in the school environment depended on the school librarians’ and teachers’ perceptions of the information competencies of their constituents and the availability of resources within the school environment. This research contributes to the study of social justice in the library and information science (LIS) professions in the following ways: first, by expanding ideas of “social justice” in LIS beyond traditional notions of “disenfranchised groups”—such as people having lower socioeconomic status, racial/ethnic or sexual minorities, and individuals with physical or mental disabilities—to include any group that may experience injustice in the context of information, such as school teachers, librarians and students; second, by portraying how social justice principles are enacted as strategies in school librarianship and pedagogy that advance student information-seeking and learning objectives; third, by highlighting the value of social justice to both practice and scholarly research in school and school library environments; and fourth, by proposing a methodology for studying social justice in a library environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-359
Number of pages31
JournalLibrary Trends
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences

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