May 17, 2022

Journal Article: “In Search of Shifting and Emergent Librarian Identities: A Philosophical Approach to the Librarian Identity Problem”

The following peer-reviewed article was recently published by Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research.


Sara Klein
Seton Hall University School of Law

Bartlomiej Lenart
University of Calgary

Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research
Vol 15,  No. 1 (2020)
DOI: 10.21083/partnership.v15i1.5113


This paper argues that while the classical, essentialist conception of identity is appealing due to its simplicity, it does not adequately capture the complexity of professional or individual identity. The appeal to essentialism in librarianship contributes to some serious problems for the profession, such as exclusion and homogeneity in the workplace, high attrition rates of minority librarians, exploitation and alienation of an underrepresented workforce, as well as stereotyping. This paper examines the theoretical landscape with regard to the identity question and proposes a more fitting alternative to essentialism, namely the relational conception of identity, and engages in a philosophical argument for the adoption of the relational account as a theoretical grounding for an understanding of the complex, fluid, and emergent nature of librarian identity within our dynamic profession.

Direct to Full Text Article (27 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.