Petrella defends dissertation

Julia Burns Petrella
Julia Burns Petrella

Doctoral candidate Julia Burns Petrella successfully defended her dissertation, "Educating Pre-Service School Librarians about Race, Racism, and Whiteness," on December 4.

Her committee included Associate Professor Carol Tilley (chair); Associate Professor Kyungwon Koh; Assistant Professor Rachel M. Magee; and Sandra Hughes-Hassell, professor of information and library science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Abstract: The racial makeup of the field of school librarianship is overwhelmingly white, standing in stark contrast to the racial demographics of today's K-12 student population in our nation. Studies of white educators working with racially minoritized students show many detrimental effects, including deficits-based thinking and lowered academic expectations, highlighting how vital it is that pre-service school librarians learn about topics of race, racism, and the effects of whiteness in their school library preparation programs. Set within a framework of Critical whiteness Studies, this study investigates the structural and individual factors that influence the ways that today's pre-service school librarians are taught about topics of race, racism, and whiteness. The methodology includes interviews with school library program coordinators, course instructors, current school librarianship students, and recent graduates of school library programs, as well as document analysis of several educational standards. This study serves to inform the field of LIS education with descriptions of current pedagogical practices, perceptions, challenges, and successful strategies related to educating pre-service school librarians about race, racism, and whiteness.

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