Agency can be defined as the ability of an individual and/or a group to enact power and choice in their surrounding environments. Our understandings of and experiences of agency play tremendous roles in how we experience the world and engage in it, both individually and in community. While often agency is discussed in terms of individual choice and action, literature from the social sciences and critical theory tend to approach the concept of agency in more collective terms, as a phenomenon that is influenced by larger structures and systems and by the unique context of any given moment. Within academic librarianship, our views and experiences of agency are affected largely by our relationships to communities within and beyond various library circles. This is reflected in findings of a survey on academic instruction librarians’ conceptions and experiences of agency that the presenter conducted in 2021.
This interactive workshop will begin with a brief introduction to the concept of agency through an ecological lens, one that takes into account the complex environments and systems in which individuals and groups find themselves and in which they interact. The presenter will then draw from findings of her 2021 survey on librarians’ experiences of teacher agency and share examples of librarians’ working to foster and to grow professional community and to encourage cultures of individual and shared agency. Participants will then engage with the following activities and objectives:
Explore experiences of individual and shared agency, including in relation to community and community building.
Generate ideas for further growing professional communities that support and sustain librarians as individuals and as collectives, and that allow space for shared understandings and values alongside differing views and dissensus.
Type of Library
Community College Library; College Library; Special Library; University Library; Consortia
agency, information literacy instruction, teaching librarians, community building
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Advocating for Individual and Collective Agency Through Community