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In the post-War on Poverty years, certain quarters of the U.S. library profession expressed a growing desire to enable librarians to beome more relevant and responsive to low-income, primarily African American, urban communities. This article traces how ideas and trends shifted within library discourse over roughly a decade starting in the mid-1960s, and offers an overview of the urban librarian training programs that emerged in the early 1970s. The latter half of the article, based on archives of internal and external correspondence, funder reports, and other primary documents, examines in greater detail the case of three related projects that were among the most radical, if short-lived, efforts of this era, before concluding with potential lessons that progressive librarians might draw from these programs’ successes and failures. Chapter published in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis.



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