As part of the Lilac Spring Training event, Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, and Eamon Tewell led a very interesting conversation on the connection between reference work and social justice. This is a conversational format, which was very helpful in terms of hearing not just from the presenters, but from the community.
Among the topics that were discussed were space issues (including eliminating the reference desk, on-call reference etc.) and the real importance of finding venues for substantial conversations with students. We discussed the power dynamics that are behind many of the academic structures that we take for granted. We also debated whether standard librarian best practices are social justice oriented already. We discussed the difference between reference as passive knowledge transfer, and reference as a conversation.
This was a very worthwhile and interesting event.