Using Social Justice to Explore the Unreal

Cartographic Literacy in Library Instruction


  • Shelby Hebert Texas A&M University Libraries
  • Sierra Laddusaw Texas A&M University Libraries


Information literacy, cartographic literacy, social justice, maps


At the most basic level, a map is a representation of space. When teaching with maps it is essential to have a holistic understanding that maps are created by people as tools, they represent the ideas and views of their makers, are used to exert control and power, and act as snapshots of the period in which they were produced. This paper provides an overview of interdisciplinary instruction using a library’s map collection focused on imaginary and unreal locations. We address three points through a social justice lens: (1) maps as constructs and reinforcers of colonialism, (2) the importance of identifying who, why, and when a map was created, and (3) the subversive power of intellectual and allegorical mapping. Our work expands on previous efforts to teach cartographic literacy and social justice by introducing imaginary cartographies to a conversation focused on our tangible world. Embedding social justice theories into cartographic instruction embodies radical librarianship by empowering patrons to think critically about the space and place they occupy.






Research Articles