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2022 TxLA Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) Annual Summit: Home

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Shanna Peeples

2022 LIRT Keynote: The Civic Commons: Libraries as Sites of Social Justice

Social justice, as a term, has become a catalyst in political fights over how and what students learn in schools. According to Education Week, forty-two states have introduced bills or taken other steps to restrict or limit how concepts such as racism and sexism are taught and discussed. In Texas, this year has seen a lawmaker circulate a list of 850 books to ban, the removal of books in multiple school districts, and a coordinated campaign to fill school board seats with members opposed to social justice-oriented books. But what is social justice, why is it so contentious, and what do libraries have to do with it? The John Lewis Institute for Social Justice defines social justice as “a communal effort dedicated to creating and sustaining a fair and equal society in which each person is valued and affirmed” which should “push us to create a civic space defined by universal education and reason.” Libraries and librarians fulfill this vision and act as a bedrock defense against what Kurt Vonnegut called “anti-democratic bullies.” Whether they work to highlight the scholarship of minoritized authors in academic institutions or create displays that interpret the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion through the lives of people just like their patrons, or whether they host “teach-ins” for their communities to bring information into the public square, libraries are more vital than ever. This keynote offers a continuum of entry points for libraries to join or increase the work of social justice as well as invites attendees to share their own practices and experiences.

Shanna Peeples, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, took the road less traveled on the way to her classroom. She worked as a disc jockey, medical assistant, and journalist before teaching, as she says, chose her. She taught middle and high school English in low-income schools in Amarillo, Texas for 14 years. Because Amarillo is a resettlement area for refugees, students as diverse as the Karen people of Myanmar to the Bantu people of Somalia, make up classes in her former assignment at Palo Duro High School. West Texas A&M University appointed her as the Dr. John G. O’Brien Distinguished Chair in Education in 2020. Her work emphasizes adaptive change grounded in adult development principles to help schools create equity-centered, sustainable learning experiences. She graduated with her doctorate in Education Leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2020 where she was a Teaching Fellow for graduate and undergraduate classes. Shanna is the author of Think Like Socrates: Using Questions to Invite Wonder & Empathy Into the Classroom. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Observer, Educational Leadership, Literacy Today, and multiple publications on the Medium platform.

2022 LIRT Keynote Jamboard

2022 LIRT Keynote Wakelet