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Implicit Bias and Librarianship

Implicit bias (defined below) is a topic that has been discussed extensively in both scholarship and in the media in recent years, especially in the context of law enforcement and the criminal justice system. But the notion of implicit bias has implications that are applicable to all professions and in all aspects of our lives, and is quite relevant to law libraries (of all types) given that we are a service-oriented profession that works with a breadth of diverse populations in many different capacities. This program would explore the concept of implicit bias via a panel of experts: what it is, how it works, its implications for our profession, and what we can do about it.

 

Implicit bias (vs. explicit bias) is defined by OSU's Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity as follows:

"Also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection. The implicit associations we harbor in our subconscious cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. These associations develop over the course of a lifetime beginning at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages. In addition to early life experiences, the media and news programming are often-cited origins of implicit associations." They describe implicit biases as pervasive ("everyone possesses them") but also malleable ("implicit associations that we have formed can be gradually unlearned").

See http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/research/understanding-implicit-bias/

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