Book Chapter or Section
Libraries are not race-neutral spaces; from an equity standpoint, treating all students the same does not assist those who may begin at a deficit, such as those from historically underrepresented groups. As supporters of the student body, academic librarians are charged with responding appropriately to their student body in a changing world. Librarians can make a concerted effort not to allow stereotypes and biases to dictate how we interact with students and other library visitors during the reference interview. This begins with taking a critical look at the components of reference service and outlining frameworks and practices that can allow librarians to provide a fully engaging and transformative learning experience. Librarians should strive to try to eliminate the barriers to success faced by BIPOC students and others from historically underserved and disempowered groups.
This chapter examines the biases and inequities inherent in the reference interview as it is commonly taught and practiced. It will further consider how the reference interview contributes to white mainstream authority and advantage and how its adherence to neutrality harms students from marginalized communities. This chapter suggests race-centered and trauma-informed approaches and interventions that can be used to create inclusive and collaborative reference interactions with students.