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Dr. Randall Jimerson: The Myth of Information Neutrality: Archivists and Social Justice

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Abstract

Librarians, archivists, and other information professionals have long believed that their role is neutral and impartial in providing essential information for other people to use and interpret. In the aftermath of theorists such as Marx, Freud, the deconstructionists, and the postmodernists, this myth of information neutrality cannot be sustained. This presentation argues that information professionals cannot remain neutral, but can and should still provide objective and honest services to all sectors of society. This model for social engagement follows what Nelson Mandela depicted as “the call of justice.” Although based on the roles of archivists, this social justice model could be adopted by other information professionals.

About Randall Jimerson

Randall C. Jimerson is professor of History and director of the Graduate Program in Archives and Records Management at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. He is a Fellow and past president of the Society of American Archivists. He is a former president of New England Archivists, which presented him the Distinguished Service Award in 1994. He is author of Archives Power: Memory, Accountability, and Social Justice (Society of American Archivists, 2009), editor of American Archival Studies: Readings in Theory and Practice (SAA, 2000), and author of The Private Civil War: Popular Thought During the Sectional Conflict (Louisiana State University Press, 1988). His most recent book is Shattered Glass in Birmingham: My Family’s Fight for Civil Rights, 1961-1964 (LSU Press, 2014).