2013 LACUNY Institute: Libraries, Information, and the Right to the City

The 2013 Library Association of the City University of New York (LACUNY) annual Institute was organized around the theme “Libraries, Information, and the Right to the City.” The event was held on April 5th at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan and over 104 attendees. The conference proceedings will be published in an upcoming version of Urban Library Journal.

In recent years movements of scholars and activists have advanced a concept known as “the right to the city.” As the noted geographer David Harvey puts it “the right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city.” Situated at the heart of a global metropolis the Library Association of the City University of New York (LACUNY) believed that it was in an excellent position to initiate a dialogue about these issues.


To begin the conversation, Professor Christine Pawley delivered a keynote address that examined the history of American libraries in the public sphere. Pawley is the Mary Emogene Hazeltine Research Fellow and former Director of the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After Professor Pawley’s presentation, the day consisted  panels that discussed things such as: how libraries engage in the urban public sphere (or polis), how issues related to the economics of publishing and cataloging inform professional practice, how critical information literacy relates to the right to city, an exploration of the concept of the right to the city and its implications for libraries and democracy, an assessment of how information professionals should react to hate speech online, the corporatization of higher education, outreach to the Occupy Movement. The day concluded with a keynote about the library at Occupy Wall Street in 2011 and 2012 by Jessa Lingel, Ph.D. candidate in Library Science at Rutgers University.

For more information about the presentations please visit the conference web site at: http://2013lacunyinst.commons.gc.cuny.edu/

Jonathan Cope, Assistant Professor
2013 LACUNY Institute chair
Instruction/Reference Librarian