Does It Matter

Have BLM Protests Opened Spaces for Collective Action in LAMs?


  • Sumayya Ahmed Simmons University
  • Rachael Clemens University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Ericka Patillo University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Angela Murillo Indiana Unversity, Indianapolis


The catalytic social justice events of the spring and summer of 2020 led to calls for a racial reckoning within society at large and also within the field of library and information science (LIS). This motivated us to capture the perceptions and voices of professionals across the field about changes they may have witnessed in their workplace, profession, and themselves. We consider the following questions: Have conversations, social spaces, teaching practices, policies, workplace dynamics, and demands, changed in response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, and if so, how? Have institutional changes perceived as responses to BLM protests been witnessed? What are the nuances behind such behavioral changes (e.g., opportunity, compulsion, peer pressure)? 

For this research, we used Critical Incident Technique (CIT) to explore how the 2020 BLM protests impacted the workplace environments of LIS faculty and professionals in libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs). A 27-question survey was administered via Qualtrics and participants were recruited using LAM professional listservs. A total of 645 participants completed the survey. This research provides the preliminary analysis and discussion of those results and provides insights to the impact of the 2020 social justice movements in LAMs.

By capturing voices of LAM professionals, we explore participants’ perceptions of the impact that BLM protests had on their institutions and/or professional associations and document a range of responses at both the individual and structural levels.

Pre-print first published online 9/30/2022

Author Biographies

Sumayya Ahmed, Simmons University

Dr. Sumayya Ahmed is an Assistant Professor at the Simmons University’s School of Library and Information Science. Her primary research focus is documentary heritage in North Africa and the region called the Middle East looking at the societal provenance of historical manuscript collections, the history of archives, and the politics of cultural heritage preservation.

Rachael Clemens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Rachael Clemens is Adjunct Faculty in the School of Information & Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research centers on human information behavior and decision-making within the context of personal crisis.

Ericka Patillo, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Ericka J. Patillo, PhD, MSLS has been a library leader in the higher education arena for over 20 years. She has been a music librarian, a public services manager, a senior level administrator, and a teacher, advisor, and researcher, and currently works as Director of Graduate Studies at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She honors her ancestors and their ways of knowing while working to co-create an academic library culture that is inclusive, collaborative, and authentic.

Angela Murillo, Indiana Unversity, Indianapolis

Dr. Angela P. Murillo is an Assistant Professor at Indiana University, Indianapolis, School of Informatics and Computing, and is the Director of the Applied Data and Information Science program. Her research focuses on scientific data management, large-scale data cyberinfrastructure, and data-related education.