Subtle activism: Using the library exhibit as a social justice tool
The library as the cultural and scholarly heart of both the academic and broader community invites and necessitates a deeper look into presenting hidden and oftentimes uncomfortable histories. Johnson and Simms propose that the use of grant-funded exhibitions within the space of an academic library can be a mechanism to jump-start social justice advocacy. When utilized to highlight difficult histories and spark conversations within the community, these exhibitions can positively impact both the community within the college or university, as well as the surrounding non-academic community. Two librarians used exhibitions within the library to showcase regional history pertinent to the university and broader community, including issues around race, slavery and the civil rights movement to spark conversation and to fill a scholarly void. By visually representing uncomfortable and oftentimes forgotten history, these exhibits became a source of scholarly discourse both in the classroom and within the larger community.