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The High John Experiment: An Analysis of Library Outreach in A Historically Marginalized Community

In 1967, the UMD School of Library and Information Services created a public library in Prince George’s County, Maryland, known as the High John Experiment, to encourage upcoming Library Information Science professionals to work with underprivileged communities. From the creation of High John to the present day, UMD publications and unaffiliated works credit High John as a cutting-edge experiment that propelled interests in diversity and inclusion in public libraries. This presentation serves as an expose on how High John failed in its mission and violated the trust and privacy of the community it served. High John’s creators published a seventy-three paged report and additional publications that confirm a gross violation of ethics towards the community High John purported to serve. Exposing High John will change the experiment’s reputation for being innovative and successful to a cautionary example of poor LIS pedagogy and community outreach.