Renate Chancellor says one of the most vivid memories of her childhood is distributing food to the homeless at a makeshift soup kitchen in the Skid Row neighborhood of Los Angeles. A teacher at her Catholic elementary school had organized the trip, where Chancellor, now an assistant professor and pre-law advisor in the Department of Library of Information Science, first saw another side of life in America.
"I want students to be prepared with a solid foundation in exploring these ethical issues — to think about what they will do as a librarian when confronted with conflicting values."
While her Catholic school education whetted her interest in helping those who are marginalized, Chancellor’s parents imparted a love of books. Weekly trips to the library yielded nightly dinner table conversations. “Whatever the children were reading, our parents read,” she notes. Those two forces came together for Chancellor in a career in library and information science with a special interest in reaching diverse populations.
“When you look at professional librarians, you don’t see many individuals from diverse communities. When people enter a library, it is important for [them] to see some professionals from their own communities,” she says. Active in the Association of Library Science and Information Education, Chancellor drafted a proposal that later became policy for library science educators. The policy encourages the recruitment of diverse applicants to library and information science programs and incorporates aspects of diversity into library science curricula. She also writes and publishes on issues of diversity in the field.
Chancellor sees a significant part of her mission as helping students develop critical thinking skills about the information they access. In her Foundations of Library and Information Science course, Chancellor digs into ethical issues in the profession that sometimes conflict with Catholic teaching. She uses those opportunities to educate students on Catholic theology while promoting dialogue in her classroom.
“Students come from various points of view which yield rich discussions,” says Chancellor. A conflict between personal and professional values is a dilemma that some students will face when they leave Catholic University. Chancellor notes, “I want students to be prepared with a solid foundation in exploring these ethical issues — to think about what they will do as a librarian when confronted with conflicting values.”