Productive Interpretations

Encouraging Patron Agency through Cultural Criticism

Ryan P. Randall, College of Western Idaho


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Map showing relationship of Boise and Calgary on map


  • Cultural studies on agency & cultural criticism
  • Traditional LIS accounts of patron agency
  • Examples of how to encourage agency

Cultural Studies & Agency

Cover of Grossberg's Bringing It All Back Home

"Capitol Crawl" for the ADA

Protestors climbing U.S. Capitol building steps as a protest in favor of passing the ADA

1990 protest for Americans with Disabilities Act


Gender Neutral Bathroom sign


Raymond Williams cover
Raymond Williams, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society

Culture as practices not just elite connoisseurship

Cultural Criticism

cover of Reading the Romance

Janice Radway, Reading the Romance and reader response criticism focusing on how readers use texts

Critiques of Library Discourse around Agency

Examples of Using Cultural Criticism

Vivian Harsh, director of Bronzeville library in Chicago:

  • Conversations with poets like Langston Hughes
  • Readers' discussion forums (more than book clubs)
  • Speakers from range of political parties
  • Collecting African artwork & material culture

Laura Burt's "Vivian Harsh, Adult Education, and the Library's Role as Community Center"

Pedagogical orientation

  • Problem-posing rather than banking model
  • Signage that presents a theme rather than a set
  • Investing in & displaying material collection with an eye to its pedagogical potential

Works Cited

Works Cited, cont.

Thank You!