Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thanks for a great semester

Folks, our last discussion was way too short and I'm sure I could have moderated/guided it better, but overall I hope you found our class as useful as I did in trying to bring some sort of organization to a century or more of library and information studies history. In the short term, write me a good paper. In the long term, keep arguing about, defending, defining, and redefining your profession -- you are the historical actors today. I'll be around over the summer for anyone staying in Madison -- please keep in touch, especially if you happen to see me down at the terrace on a sunny afternoon. Cheers,



If anyone is interested, there is an article in the May 2006 issue of National Geographic concerning some ancient texts about Judas that are currently being restored by the NGS. I thought there were some interesting quotes that relate to Nicholson Baker's Double Fold. On page 93, the journalist reveals that "the manuscript was so brittle that it would crumble at the slightest touch". This is a quote that undoubtedly would drive Baker crazy, but in this case it is factually true, though it does partake in preservation cliche. The manuscript also is said to consist of "a thousand fragments" much like the 'snow' term he so virulently argues against. It is an interesting blend, nonetheless, of conservation efforts and preservation rhetoric.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Live Homework Help

After doing some research on the Live Homework Help we saw the ad for last week, I turned up some facts. It is a subscription service from a commerial provider located at . Libraries from across the country seem to subscribe to it, though it is not actually affliated with any sort of library. It appears that their various tutors generally work from their individual home computers. Individuals can also subscribe to it on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Cox responds to Baker

Folks looking for the "archivist's response" to Nicholson Baker's arguments may want to check out this essay by Richard Cox in First Monday. Cox attempts to refute Baker's arguments against newspaper microfilming and subsequent destruction one by one:

Novelist and literary essayist Nicholson Baker once again has caused a stir in the library world, this time attacking the sale and/or destruction of original newspapers once they have been microfilmed. Ably and eloquently arguing his case, Baker is still wrong while succeeding in raising public awareness about the care of basic documentary sources and in forcing librarians and archivists alike to re-think basic assumptions and practices. My essay responds to what I discern as Baker's four main points - a lie foisted upon the public about the care of the newspapers, the insidious destruction of original newspapers, the resultant loss of trust by the public in libraries and archives, and a set of wrong priorities leading to the misguided microfilming and destruction of the newspapers. My essay also suggests that we should expect more such public debates as the developing Digital Age brings more intense concerns for original books, archives, and other documents.

As the final reading of the semester in our class -- and a reading which recounts the library history of the twentieth century from the perspective of one who is neither librarian nor historian -- I hope we can respectfully consider and/or challenge Baker's points as Cox does. But I will be curious to see what you think, in the end, of the contradictory meanings of "preservation" and "conservation" that Baker reveals.

Once again, though I know you're sick of it: What is (has been, should be) the social function, social purpose, social value of the library?


A link to LC's Mass Deacidification: An Initiative to Refine the Diethyl Zinc Process and their current, and hopefully safer, initiative.

Baker v. Librarian

Nicholas Baker tells an exciting story about the failures of microfilm and American libraries in general. He uses his years of experience as a fiction writer to craft a doomsday tale so believable that you must keep yourself from running to the microforms office of your local library to protest the destruction of our collective historical record between chapters. Baker sprinkles his tale with histories of paper made from mummy wrapping, exploding vacuum chambers, and connections to CIA torture experiments.

My question to the class is, what of Baker’s story do we believe and why have we done so? Here is a man who has no formal library training, traipsing through some of our country’s greatest information depositories telling us, librarians, how to do our jobs. Moreover, he spends thirty-eight chapters telling the public that we have lied to them about the state of our collections and that our books are not in fact falling apart on our shelves as we have stated for years in our requests for funding. What has driven him to tear apart decades of procedures perfected by library professionals and are his concerns about these practices valid?

Digitization vs. Microfilm

Late in Double Fold Baker addresses the issue of digitization of library materials as a replacement for microfilming. He does not give this subject as lengthy or detailed a treatment as he does microfilming, perhaps because digital reformatting was not yet as important as it has since become. Double Fold was published in 2001, the same year that the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections (UWDC) were established.

Given Baker's opinions on microfilm, how do you think he would feel about digital reformatting today? How do YOU feel about digital reformatting today? Does it have any particular strengths or weaknesses when compared to microfilm, or to print-and-paper books?

If you don't have much experience with digital collections, visit the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections and see what the UWDCC has put online.

Full disclosure: I've worked for the UWDCC for about a year and a half. I'll be talking a bit more about this on Thursday.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Double Fold from an Archivists’ Perspective

In reaction to Double Fold, Richard Cox, a well known archivist within the archival community wrote Vandals in the Stacks?. Cox breaks down Baker’s argument point by point from an archivists’ perspective. The following comments are from Cox’s chapter “Why Can’t the Paper Keepers Keep all the Paper?”. This chapter addresses Baker’s claim that all newspapers should be saved in their original format. Cox discusses that this is impossible to do for a number of reasons.
1. It is impossible to save every newspaper since big city newspapers publish multiple editions daily and libraries often only receive one edition.
2. Archivists do not have the resources to save every newspaper despite what Baker says.
3. Newspapers were never meant to last forever. The quality of paper that newspapers are published on will deteriorate. According to Cox, Baker’s comments about newspapers not deteriorating have little true basis.
Bottom line is that archivists, like librarians, need to make choices about selection. Given the choice, an archivist is going to choose saving correspondence of an important literary figure over a newspaper. So the alternative is microfilming newspapers.

Some Questions to think about:
What do you think about Baker’s idea of saving everything? Do you agree with Richard Cox’s view or more with Baker’s?
Is microfilming of newspaper all evil as Baker suggests?

Literacy 24/7: Where are the libraries?

A blurb in the Isthmus Daily Page connects with our ongoing discussion of the current and historical relationship between libraries, schools, and bookstores. Last weekend was the "Literacy 24/7" event was held at a local bookstore by the Madison Area Literacy Council:

[T]he 1440-minute long event featured marathon reading sessions at the west side Borders. Organized by the council as a fundraiser for its literacy programs, each hour was kicked off by ten minutes of out-loud literacy from a variety of guest readers, including Tammy Baldwin, Pleasant Rowland, and Dave Cieslewicz, not to mention a host of authors.

A quick visit to the MALC web site reveals only a cursory connection to local libraries for this non-profit group. Some of their upcoming events are being held at the Sun Prairie public library, but the MPL system seems totally absent. Surprising?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Books about America ... for Iraq

This article in Slate today talks about an international book translation and distribution effort proposed by a University of Michigan professor who, I can assure you, is no simple mouthpiece for the current presidential administration:

Juan Cole, a blogger and professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan, has come up with an intriguing idea for how to fill this gap. He wants to hire skilled linguists to translate into Arabic the classic works of American political thought -- especially those works that deal with freedom of religion, division of powers, sovereignty of the people, and equal rights. He has in mind the essays and speeches of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Tom Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King Jr., and Susan B. Anthony; a solid history of American Jews and other minority groups; maybe a few good books, written by American historians, about Iraq. Cole also wants to subsidize Middle Eastern publishers to print these books in large numbers and at low prices, and he wants to pay fees to book dealers throughout the region -- just as publishers pay Borders and Barnes & Noble here -- to display the books prominently.

This isn't just an idea. Cole has established the Global Americana Institute and the Library of Americana Translation Project. Since he outlined the idea in his blog late last year, readers have sent him $13,000. He claims that some foundations are 'jumping-up-and-down enthusiastic' to pour in the big bucks, once he obtained the legal status of a nonprofit organization. The federal government just gave him this status two weeks ago. He's filling out the grant applications now. He also recently returned from the Beirut international book fair, where he says several Middle Eastern publishers and dealers expressed great interest in the project (and, no doubt, in the prospect of the money).

Long ago, the federal government did on its own just what Cole proposes to do. The United States Information Agency -- then an independent agency -- maintained libraries in Amman, Istanbul, and elsewhere, filled with translations of American political and literary classics. The Franklin Book Program, a nonprofit company with funding from the State Department and private foundations, published hundreds of titles and stocked them in libraries and bookstores all over the world. The Franklin Book Program shut down in 1977, its international board having determined -- prematurely, it turned out -- that its mission was accomplished. In the 1990s, under pressure from the Republican-run Senate (especially Jesse Helms, then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee), the USIA was absorbed into the State Department; its budget was whacked and its agenda politicized; its libraries were shut down, their books remaindered.


New Verona library described in the press

Is it just me, or does this seem like a strange way for the Wisconsin State Journal to describe the new Verona library?

Other libraries might have more books, faster computers, more meeting space or a quieter reading room.But topping the view provided by a more than two-story bank of windows at the new Verona Public Library will be tough for any library to match.Visitors taking a break from reading or surfing the net through the library's wireless network may look out through the v-shaped bank of windows and see a hawk, wild flowers or changing cloud patterns above.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Garrison Keillor quote and Baker's "Double Fold"

I'm not in the review group for "Double Fold," but am a big fan of the book. I found the following passage on the back of the Viking/BOMC trade paperback edition of Garrison Keillor's "We Are Still Married" today, and thought it was a perfect companion to Baker's book. With all the library and book quotations posted around SLIS, I had never come across this one. Oh, by the way, it is a lengthy quote, and it may push the limits of copyright law to reproduce it, but as I am putting it on our class blog, I presume it would be covered under Fair Use. If not, Viking can let us know and I'll take it down.

"A silken photo of the author leaning on a porch should occupy this space along with few roundhouse tributes from newspapers but why not instead a few lines about the great and ancient invention you hold in your hand, the Book itself. Slow to hatch, as durable as a turtle, light and shapely as befits a descendant of the tree. Closed, the objet d'book resembles a board. Open, its pale wings brush the fingertips, the spore of fresh ink and pulp excites the nose, the spine lies easily in the hand. A handsome useful object begotten by the passion for truth. The apostle Paul was not the host of a talk show, or else we'd be worshiping famous people on Sunday mornings: he wrote books, a Christian thing to do. The faith of Jews and Christians rests on God's sacred word, not on magic or music, and so technology burst forward into publishing, Gutenberg and Johann Fust and Peter Schoffer making books similar to ours in the fifteenth century. Ages before the loudspeaker and the camera, came this lovely thing, this portable garden, which survives television, computers, censorship, lousy schools, and rotten authors. Along with the Constitution, the blues, and baseball, the democracy of letters is a common glory in our midst, visible in every library and bookstore. These stacks of boards contain our common life and keep it against the miserable days when meanness operates with a free hand and save it for the day when the lonesome reader opens the cover and the word is resurrected. The day can come next month or a hundred years from now, a book will wait."
-- Garrison Keillor

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

American Public Libraries: A Long Transformative Moment

In this article, the author counters the argument that libraries and librarianship is going the way of the 8-track by pointing out what the library is and does: the library is a physical space used by a community for more than just books, that libraries have often been ahead of some technologies, and that libraries provide equal access to technology. In her opinion, technology is not the demise of libraries as so many contend but as a "tool" that libraries use to their advantage.
She maintains that there will always be a need for libraries and librarians but that librarians' and libraries' roles are changing. To keep up with the change, she suggests the following:

-Libraries need strong leadership and need to "assume a key leadership role as the major player in a society that is now based on information and knowledge."
-Libraries need to be more connected, especially with online databases and to other libraries, and through such connectedness, libraries must enrich the content of the technologies available (for example, online databases should have full-text availability).
-Library buildings should be equipped and upgraded to handle new technology and that includes everything from wiring to new computers.
-Staff members need to learn, understand, and stay abreast of new technology, both the hardware and the software as well as online databases and websites.
-Libraries and governing boards must figure out how to reconcile local governance and funding with global technological access, such as the internet.
-Libraries and staff must maintain the goal and mission of equal access for everything the library offers, including technology, to every library user.

Some questions to ponder after reading this article. Are we now seeing the transformation that the author purports must take place for libraries to remain viable? Do you agree with the author as to her argument and solutions?
Consider this from the sides of the library user, a community member and the library staff member: do you see libraries taking active leadership roles in your community or beyond? If yes, how? If no, how could/should libraries be taking such roles? Do you agree that libraries even need to take more active leadership in communities?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Library roles

According to the national survey of public library's roles, from 1993, providing educational support was, for all age ranges, consistently rated higher then the more community-space oriented choices. How does this compare to the priorities of public libraries where you work/have worked? Should this change the way public libraries promote themselves within the community?

Why does it matter that non-Caucasian groups rated the roles of the library higher in addition to indicating a higher per capita expenditure? Do you think this is reflected in who uses the public library, in your observations?

WLA presents some statistics from 2003 showing that "the annual statewide average per capita local and county tax support for public library service in 2003 was $30.59." If you want to read more about the tax support or other library statistics from 2003 the website is:

On Customer Driven Librarianship

John E. Buschman in his book, Dismantling the public sphere: Situating and sustaining librarianship in the age of the new public philosophy, attempts to prove that society is now functioning under a “New Public Philosophy” which is primarily based in economics. The “New Public Sphere” is destroying “the public sphere” and as discussed in the chapter we read, “On Customer-Driven Librarianship,” is causing libraries to abandon its public sphere responsibilities. The new emphasis on a for-profit corporate environment has led to the idea of customer-driven librarianship, where libraries attempt to compete with similar corporations.

Buschman makes an outrageous comparison in the chapter, “On Customer-Driven Librarianship,” between student-driven universities and patron- driven libraries. He claims that universities who cater to students with free booze, GPAs on demand, and few academic requirements would please students but would fall out of favor in society. He uses this example to suggest that that patron-driven librarianship would lead to decreasing public and private support for libraries and would cause libraries to “abandon a number of public sphere roles,” like promoting democracy.

Do we as future librarians agree with this? And, if the library is supported by public tax money what is the harm in placing the library in the hand of the public? Are we as librarians so afraid of that outcome that we are unwilling to relinquish our control and allow customer-driven librarianship to take over?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Shopping for Community: Miller Article

In this article, Miller considers “the use and meaning of the community ideal by examining how it has been manifested in both the rhetoric of the book trade, and the activities and promotional efforts of booksellers” (p. 387). She begins by giving an overview of what is meant by community—the different definitions that have emerged and debate that surrounds the “community ideal.” She argues that even with its myriad definitions and a variety of criteria as to what “true” community entails, it remains an ideal that is very much a part of the American psyche. According to Miller, within social science circles a debate exists as to the social benefits that can come out of achieving the community ideal. On one side there are the “communitarians” who argue that “building a sense of community is necessary for restoring moral purpose to the collective life in the United States” (p. 389). As a society Americans have become extremely individualistic, and therefore we need to move back to this sense of community and working for the common good. Critics of this theory claim that the community ideal is not easily achieved because it often demands a certain level of conformity, and if someone does not fit the values or beliefs of the community, they are excluded.

After setting up this framework, Miller provides a brief history of bookselling in the U.S.—from early bookstores that existed as a sort of community center, to small intellectually elite bookstores, to the emergence of mall bookstores, the resurgence or backlash of the independent bookstores and finally the replacement of mall stores with stand-alone superstores. Following this history she examines ways that bookstores are linked to communities. This includes things such as author/book talks, storytime for children, and singles events. In addition, the inclusion of caf├ęs in many bookstores and comfy chairs make them ideal places to hang out and meet up with other people. In looking at these connections, Miller explores how successfully independent versus superstores achieve the community ideal. In the final part of the article, she looks at the limitations of viewing bookstores as a means of developing a sense of community, particularly given that in the end bookstores are a business and their ultimate goal is making a profit.

Some questions to think about:
Do you agree or disagree with the argument that chain bookstores cannot truly play a role in reaching the “community ideal”? Why or why not? Can independent bookstores play a role? What connections do you see between some of the challenges independent bookstores face in light of the growth of superstores and the challenges libraries face? Do they face similar challenges or are there differences? Even though you do not have to buy anything when going into a bookstore, ultimately they appeal most to those that can buy books or other products in the stores. How does this compare to libraries? Do different sectors of the community use libraries versus bookstores or do the same people use both? Are libraries a more equitable public space than bookstores?

As a side note, one thing I found interesting when reading this article is the fact that the author is from Canada and she does not make any mention of Canada—her focus is on the United States. I was living in Canada from 2000-2002 and during that time the two largest bookstores in Canada, “Chapters” and “Indigo Books and Music” were going through a merger—“Chapters” was in financial trouble and “Indigo” was going to rescue it from completely going out of business. These bookstores are superstores like “Borders” and “Barnes and Noble”. There was a great deal of press at the time of the merger. Some people saw it as a bad thing because it would lead to further homogenization of bookstores in Canada. Others thought it might lead to better competition and actually benefit independent booksellers. Overall many in the Canadian publishing industry and many independent booksellers supported the merger because they feared that if Indigo didn’t buy out Chapters then an American company, like Borders or Barnes and Noble would. This, they feared, would hurt the Canadian publishing industry because these American companies would be less likely to carry Canadian titles. An interesting twist to the community-bookstore link.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Vannevar Bush article

Sorry this is so late! Anyway, I found Vannevar Bush's article quite intriguing, particularily his idea of the "memex". Given today's technological advancements, his proposal seems decidedly absurd. According to Wikipedia "the memex was severely flawed because Bush did not understand information science, or microfilm very well". I was hoping to get some feedback on this issue: what about the memex struck you as probably not very well adapted to the way that people use information? What structural errors did this particular, though hypothetical advancement have, in your opinion, given the ways you use technology? Also, it has been written that Vannevar didn't link up with the library.. where we might think his invention might have a home. How often do you think this happens, how many inventions that may have helped the library just pass on by because of perceptions about the library as an institution.. what might these perceptions be? Lack of funding, lack of use for technology?

The Techonological Revolution

In this article Hamlin works with the idea the last century has been one in which there has been a fourth revolution-namely a technological revolution in the field of instruction. He sepertes the devolopments into three catagories, photographic processes, conservation and protection, and automation and the computer. It was interesting to note the very different opinions on the usefullness of the computers, espicially when comparted to the more widespread support of microform and its successors. I was wondering what people felt about the predicitons of Bush, who was pro-automation and Mason, who was anti-automation, and how they have come to true today if it all? Additionally as a precussor to Double Fold was the wide scale adoption of microform, film, and fiche as beneficial as argued? Finally as the article was written in 1981 I think that we have now experienced another technological revolution in the form of the internet.

Public Libraries Vs. the Internet: Do We Have a Chance?

“The Impact of the Internet on Public Library Use” article outlined the results of a study done by George D’Elia, Corrine Jorgensen, Joseph Woelfel and Eleanor Jo Rodger. The study wanted to investigate the relationship between the Internet and the library in terms of information seeking individuals. They saw that many services which the library offered were also offered by the Internet, and they wanted to see which ones consumers chose, why and how well this decision fit their information needs. This was done by surveying 3,097 English and Spanish-speaking adults (above the age of 18) through a Random Digit Dialing telephone survey on their use of the library and the internet, their information needs and the service they expected (and to what extent received) from both the library and the internet.

After analyzing the data, the group came to the conclusion that at this point the use of the library and the use of the internet are seen by a majority of the public as “complementary.” However, the study also concluded that “…the Internet was overwhelmingly preferred over the library for the majority of uses, many of which fall under the library’s traditional mission of information provision.” When discussing services provided by the library and the Internet, “…the users of both the Internet and the library rated the Internet superior to the library for 10 out of 16 service characteristics.” D’Elia, Jorgensen, Woelfel and Rodger basically recommend that the library begin actively reevaluating their mission statement and role in society, something they don't see happening at this point in time.

In reading the results of this study, were you worried about the future of libraries? Or do you feel it’s impossible to make the issue so black and white? Will library patrons who use the internet really chose between the two and never look back?

To look at this issue historically, is the idea of libraries competing with another service, business or institution only a new phenomenon? Or were there other periods in library history where this occurred?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

interesting intellectual freedom case

I saw this article via the Bookslut blog. In a nutshell, it describes the efforts of the FBI to go through the archived papers of Jack Anderson, a former Washington muckraking reporter and Pulitzer-prize winner who died last year. Citing interest in documents related to the prosecution of two former officials with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee under investigation for distributing information on national defense, the FBI wants to "remove any item they deem confidential or top secret" from the archive. George Washington University, which currently has the papers, is letting the Anderson family fight the FBI. It brings up an interesting twist to how the Patriot Act and other intellectual freedom issues are applied to personal papers and archives.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Whither Libraries? by Lancaster

F. Wilfrid Lancaster's "Whither Libraries? or, Wither Libraries" article tackles the issue of library technology at a point (1978) that he recognized as being a turning point in the debate between print based and non-print (electronic in this case) materials. Early in the article, he announces, "Whether we like it or not, society is evolving from one whose formal communication has, for centuries, been based almost exclusively on print on paper to one whose formal communication will be largely paperless (ie electronic)" (346). Focusing specifically on scholarly publishing in the sciences, Lancaster envisions a future that will have scientists submitting, reviewing and reading papers in an entirely electronic environment, and libraries offering access to the same material via electronic databases. Lancaster cites space concerns, production and handling costs and the time lag inherent in print publishing as motivations for a switch to electronic material, "by the year 2000, [or conceivably earlier]" (355). 2000 has come and gone: are Lancaster's predictions accurate? What, if anything, does Lancaster NOT take into account for the successful transfer to electronic publishing that could be an issue today? Lancaster closes his article by calling for more study on what libraries can do in the new electronic publishing world: what are some ways you have seen librarians adapt to the use of electronic sources?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Another librarian censorship/selection dispute

From Inside Higher Ed comes this tale from Ohio State University ...

Like a growing number of colleges, Ohio State University at Mansfield has decided to ask all freshmen to read a common book, in the hope of creating a more unified intellectual experience for new students. But the effort over the last month to pick a book for the next group of new students hasn’t exactly been a unifying experience. The
suggestion of one member of the book selection committee that an anti-gay book be picked angered many faculty members, some of whom have filed harassment charges against the person who nominated that book. The faculty members in turn are being accused of trying to censor a librarian — and a conservative group is threatening to sue.

Whether the debate at Mansfield is about faculty members standing up for tolerance or displaying intolerance all depends on whom you ask.

You can read the full article for the gory details, but here's the main point: a book recommended by head reference librarian Scott Savage:

As an example of a non-ideological book, Savage suggested Freakonomics. But his comments to the group against picking an ideological book struck some the wrong way. Then one committee member sent an e-mail saying that a controversial book would get more students engaged and debating. The university, he wrote, “can afford to polarize, and in fact has an obligation to, on certain issues.”

With that invitation, Savage offered his own suggestions on books that might fit the bill, including new books by Sen. Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican who is much loved by social conservatives, and by David Horowitz, the conservative gadfly who has pushed the Academic Bill of Rights, which is derided by faculty groups as taking away their rights. But the suggestion that created the furor was another one: The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom, by David Kupelian.

While the book has many targets, gay people rank high as a source of problems, with frequent implications of a gay conspiracy hurting society. Publicity material for the book blasts the gay civil-rights movement for changing “America’s former view of homosexuals as self-destructive human beings into their current status as victims and cultural heroes” and says that this transformation campaign “faithfully followed an in-depth, phased plan laid out by professional Harvard-trained marketers.”

Almost immediately, fellow panel members (and soon others at the university) not only objected to the book (which never seems to have been in serious contention for freshmen to read), but to the idea that it would be offered for consideration.

In the end, the committee selected the book The Working Poor, by David K. Shipler -- but that's not the issue. The issue involves calls to dismiss this academic librarian and charges of discrimination against GLBT students, staff and faculty, as well as the librarian's threatened lawsuit claiming discrimination against Christians. I'd be interested in what LIS569 students think of this article in light of the historical debates we've been considering.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Space for Louise to update us about Ruth Brown?

I asked Louise after class today if she'd share some further tidbits on the Ruth Brown story (and the book), especially anything new that's come to light since the book was published. If she has time, she will comment -- so here's a space for her to do so ...

Communism and black intellectuals

Hi everyone,
As I mentioned in class today, I believe that we need to pay attention to the fact that Ruth Brown and her "very beautiful white [daughter] (51)" were patients of Dr. Dixon, an African-American man, and that this fact may have been the doubly-buried social outrage that led to Brown's dismissal. One of the main objectives of the KKK is and was to "protect southern white womanhood" from black men. Louise mentions the history of the Klan in Oklahoma, but I'd like to know its status at the time of Brown's dismissal. I'm not suggesting that the Klan was necessarily directly involved, but some local people may have shared its hysteria over the idea of physical contact between black men and white women.
A few quick Wiki searches after class, though, also makes me want me to further investigate the authors and activists in the civil rights movement that inspired Ruth Brown. Turns out, both Richard Wright (author of "Black Boy," which meant so much to Ruth Brown) and Bayard Rustin (the openly gay civil rights organizer whose speaking engagement was cancelled) had been members of the Communist Party. Not secret members either- no crypto-Communism or "fellow-traveler-ism" here. For instance, Wright writes about it in "Black Boy," and was editor for a time of a Communist newspaper. Both Wright and Rustin became disillusioned with the Soviet model, as did many intellectuals. It seems to me that these are crucial facts of the case, not much discussed in the book. Does this make Ruth Brown a Communist? Not at all. But the notion that she might have been is not so far-fetched. As I said, it's worth further investigation.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Libraries and Library Board

Okay, let's try this again. Blogger went a little nuts last time I tried to get this posted.

Like many libraries that started during the late 1800's, the Bartlesville Public Library was started by a local women's group. It was one of the libraries started to bring refinement and culture to the workers of the factory town. Do you think its roots, and those of the community, helped to influence the later issues that arose with the Brown controversy? Do you think these roots or the company town nature were what caused such striking differences between the library in Bartlesville and the one in the neighboring town? And how do you think Ruth Brown managed to get circulation figures like she did?

It seems that the (first) library board worked hard to cooperate with what the "community" wanted, while still attempting to maintain what they felt the library stood for. I myself was impressed that they had encouraged mixed storyhours. In the end things of course did not go so well. What examples of this type of situation have you seen or heard of in the modern day? What ideals do you see libraries and library boards holding up despite what the "community" thinks? Some examples besides patron privacy would be good.

Also, I was just thinking as I typed this, I was thinking about how I cannot comprehend what it would be like to work in a segregated library. Or to live in a time where segregation happened as the norm. What are other people's thoughts on this? Have any of you seen major changes in your lifetimes?

Politics and Censorship

I know that most of you have read this book before, but before I move on to the discussion of McCarthyism and censorship I just wanted to say that I was sort of surprised that there was really no redemption for Ruth Brown in Bartlesville. There is an effort today to build a memorial for Miss Brown, but it seems like prior to this there was no real attempt to honor her struggle.

During this period there was a great deal of imposed censorship and also self censorship. In Ruth Brown's case it was the reason for her dismissal, and was also seen as others declined to speak up on her behalf. The "Red Scare" gave people the opportunity to exert a certain amount of social control. One of the arguments for the removal of "subversive" materials from the library was the impact they could have on children. This topic also seems to be a large part of the film (I am just basing this on the description in the book) where the young character, Freddie, becomes fixated on communism. This was discussed a little on the blog last week in regards to parental censorship of children. Do you think there are different levels of censorship in libraries for different groups of people? Should the community be able to dictate what materials are allowed in the library, or is it the library that influences the community?

Bartlesville as a Company Town

In general, a company town is one in which a significant portion of the economy depends on one corporation. Usually that corporation also owns other businesses that provide goods and services to the residents and may also sponsor cultural and entertainment activities. (Wikipedia names Kohler, Wisconsin as a company town.) Did Bartlesville at the time discussed in the book fit this definition?. The city depended mainly on the Phillips Petroleum Company for its economic health. Phillips also exerted a lot of control in other ways, not only on its employees, but also on the residents of Bartlesville. What are some examples? Many residents became angered when Ruth Brown began participating in desegregation activities. Some employees of Phillips also participated with Brown. So how did Phillips respond to those employees? What was the true motivation behind the actions of Phillips?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Gender Issues in "Ruth Brown"

Throughout the story of Ruth Brown, we see numerous females actively participating in community groups, the Library Board, and the self-designated citizen's committee whose purpose was to investigate allegations of "pro-communism" in the library. Most of these women were the wives of employees of the town's largest business, Phillips Petroleum, or their competition, Cities Service. While these women undoubtedly held influential positions on town committees, men always held the leadership positions and seem to have made the final decisions. Conservative groups such as the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), and Pro-America had members who were also part of decision-making in Bartlesville.

Ruth Brown was a member of the COPD (Committee on the Practice of Democracy), and, though other prominent women also were members, they seem to disappear when Brown is confronted with charges of pro-communism and attempting to integrate the library.

So, some questions to think about...Does what happened to Ruth Brown serve to perpetuate the stereotypical librarian (as opposed to her personally)? Thinking about the national state of library affairs at this time (loyalty oaths, etc.), does location have any bearing on her situation (i.e. what if she were a librarian in California)? Did female members of the various community groups (including the COPD, to which Brown belonged) do what they could to help her? Should they have done more? Was more female involvement in the decision to dismiss Brown even a possibility in a town run by a big oil business? What bearing does this case have on female librarians (and males, for that matter) today? Have gender roles changed enough in librarianship and in the composition of library boards?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Attention Group 5 and Group 6!

Hey everyone, I had a quick question. Something came up, and I am going be out of town on the 27th, when my group, group 6, is set to present. I was wondering, group 5er's, if I might join up with your group and present the week before? If you were in group 5, and wanted to join group 6 and present a week later, (we could just switch then) that would be great, so I'm not leaving my group down a person for their presentation. Anyway if you could, I would really appreciate it! Post here, or let me know via email:
Thank you so much!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Note: Quick change to comments on this blog

Since I've gotten some interest in our class blog and class wiki from outside of the class, I'm opening up the comments to anyone who takes the time to register with Blogger (that is, no anonymous comments allowed, but pseudonymous comments are OK). This means you'll have to enter a pesky "security word" each time you post or comment, unfortunately (you'll see when the time comes).

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ethics for librarians

After our class discussion today, Louise Robbins forwarded to me this draft of a Canadian Library Association "POSITION STATEMENT ON INFORMATION ETHICS IN LIS EDUCATION" which is an interesting twist on censorship and intellectual freedom debates.

Knowledge and understanding of pluralistic intercultural information ethical theories and concepts, including the ethical conflicts and responsibilities facing library and information professionals around the world, is necessary to relevant teaching, learning, and reflection in the field of library and information studies and information-related professions. Many important areas and issues currently facing library and information professionals can only be understood in light of their ethical contexts. Also, the contributions that library and information studies can make to knowledge societies can be significantly informed by their attention to information ethics.

As suggested by universal core values promoted by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and other professional organizations and world bodies it is our responsibility to participate critically in the global discourse of information ethics, as it pertains to, at least, the following articles of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

• Respect for the dignity of human beings (Art. 1)
• Confidentiality (Art. 1, 2, 3, 6)
• Equality of opportunity (Art. 2, 7)
• Privacy (Art. 3, 12)
• Right to freedom of opinion and expression (Art. 19)
• Right to participate in the cultural life of the community (Art. 27)
• Right to the protection of the moral and material interests concerning any scientific, literary or artistic production (Art. 27)

The Information Ethics Special Interest Group of the Association for Library and Information Science Education strongly advocates that information ethics should be encouraged as an important aspect of education, research, scholarship, service, and practice in library and information studies and in other related professions. It therefore advocates that attention to information ethics (either through the curriculum, instructor expertise, resources, activities) be developed and enhanced in all programs of library and information studies education. Schools of library and information studies are urged to implement this recommendation to achieve the following desirable outcomes:

1. The curriculum should be informed by information ethics through a unit in the required foundations (or equivalent) course. This unit should cover the following student objectives:

• to be able to recognize and articulate ethical conflicts in the information field;
• to inculcate a sense of responsibility with regard to the consequences of individual and collective interactions in the information field;
• to provide the foundations for intercultural dialogue through the recognition of different kinds of information cultures and values;
• to provide basic knowledge about ethical theories and concepts and about their relevance to everyday information work; and,
• to learn to reflect ethically and to think critically and to carry these abilities into their professional life.

2. There should be offered periodically one or more courses devoted specifically to information ethics. Such courses should be taught by a qualified member of the faculty and be based on international literatures from a diversity of viewpoints.

3. Information ethics should be included in study and discussion across the library and information curriculum. It should be infused throughout the curriculum in such areas as management, young adult services, information literacy training, and information-technology related courses.

4. There should be ongoing engagement with information ethics, as challenging questions and issues need to be revisited through the lenses of individuals, institutions, and societies.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

In Time of War

This article from American Libraries juxtaposes public library actions after 9/11 with their actions during in the 1940s in order to illustrate how libraries responded to WWII in their collection development policies, patron services, and even in their compliance with the federal Office of War Information. Becker writes that intellectual freedom was a "fairly new professional committment" and most libraries/librarians fulfilled requests by the Office of Facts and Figures and the FBI that violated their patrons' privacy. When libraries/librarians objected to censorship or invasions of their patron privacy, they did so mostly on "practical grounds."

So what happened in the next few decades that made the Library Bill of Rights and the ALA's stance on intellectual freedom and censorship central to the profession? What socio-political forces changed the way in which public libraries dealt with censorship? And why were libraries complicit in violating patron privacy and removing "offensive" or "dangerous" materials from their shelves during WWII?

Final Book Report

I, also, have forgotten to post my book info for the final project. I am working on Libraries in the Age of Mediocrity, by Earl Lee. Lee writes postmodern essays on a huge variety of library topics, and it will be interesting to compare and contrast this book to other books/topics from our class.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Censorship and Intellectual Freedom

The encyclopedia article on censorship is especially interesting, becuase it focuses on who exactly attempts to censor reading materials and ideas. Librarians, popes, political leaders, and feminists are just a few of the groups that have attempted censorship of particular materials. All are offended by certain elements and have different means for promoting the censorship of specific materials. The intellectual freedom article addresses the more political aspects of censorship practiced by governments. China, the Soviet Union, and South Africa (and certainly the United States, too) have all practiced censorship and have used to different means to discourage certain ideas and teachings. Governments can simply ban certain materials, or libraries can restrict access to certain areas, or , as in the cases of the United States and South Africa, can practice partial censorship through racial profiling in an attempt to prevent subervise, independent behavior. I think the word censorship certainly has negative connotation, but putting that aside do you think there is value in censorship? Does it prevent the fermentation of certain dangerous ideas? Or does it simply make people more curious about certain materials?

Censorship and fear at the California Library

The Mediavilla article about the California libraries and the CLA has a lot of meaty stuff going on, I don't know where to start!

In particular, I was very interested in the ways that librarians self censored themselves at this time period, the ways that paranoia and fear existed long after McCarthy, and their opinion that if a book was challenged, no one would be there to back them up.

Were their fears justified? In what ways have we seen self-censorship already, and how do you think it functioned in libraries for the rest of the cold war? Have librarians become more bold, or could these fears still be justified today?

I'll have more questions about the Burbank attempt at book labeling and the various attempt at legislation for class on Thursday!

The Library Bill of Rights in the 1960’s: One Profession, One Ethic

This article demonstrates how the Bill of Rights was interpreted and how controversy ensued. The article focuses on the views held by David Berninghausen who took a stance on intellectual freedom, on the profession’s response to his views, and the implications it had for the profession.

Do you agree with Berninghausen’s views on intellectual freedom or do you side with the SRRT and why? (It’s a pretty simple question, so please be elaborate in your response. Thanks!)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Book choice-Dear Miss Breed

Sorry, I fell way behind in posting this. For my final paper, I'm reading "Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During WWII and a Librarian Who Made a Difference," by Joanne Oppenheim. It is a book full of the stories of young people in the internment camps of America and their letters to one librarian who kept them supplied with books and kind letters. The internment camp was in Arizona, though the occupants were from elsewhere, including California, where they were patrons of Miss Breed's library. It is a book that just came out this year and is targeted at a YA audience, but so full of primary source material on a darker part of our nation's history that it is a good read for anyone who is interested.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Libraries talked about in weblogs

An interesting local weblog posting on the Madison Public Librarymakes me wonder how today's blog musings will work as the primary sources of tomorrow's library histories. For example:
At the library again. The computers are all taken up by Madison's homeless, who spend most of their time playing online video games until their two hours are up. I'm not exactly sure why the library allows this; it seems like it should be against some kind of rule. There is a small, hooded Asian kid to my right watching Wrestlemania clips, and an elderly black man to my left doing his taxes. His half-hour session is almost up, and he's not finished. Across the aisle, a stubble-cheeked guy with a stack of VHS is looking at Craigslist postings of sublets. Every so many minutes I hear a different person complaining to the young woman at the tech desk about how the computer won't let them log on, and she has to explain about the two hour limit. Again. Everyone turns around to watch because the tech desk girl is pretty. The Asian kid just got busted for using multiple cards to log in past his limit. I had no idea the library was such a hotbed of intrigue.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Public Library Inquiry

This article by Robert Leigh describes the results of a study investigating the status of public libraries in the 1950s completed by a group of social scientists. The questions below come from Molly, Alycia, and Tonia.

The social scientists who performed the inquiry into the public library system entered into their research with a set of basic assumptions and premises about the public library system based on their conceptualizations of the type of society our library system had originated from. The author outlined his six basic assumptions in regards to freedom of communication, the opportunity to learn, popular control and expert direction, special groups and mediating function, centralization and local participation, and technological change and institutional tradition. Are these issues still the six most important issues when looking at the functionality of libraries? Have the interactions between these factors changed due to changes in our legislation, level of technological advancement and popular culture?

The study also predicted that “conflicting concepts and values will appear in the description of library policy and practice,” and that many of the public library’s main problems would arise out of their attempt to reconcile those conflicts (11). Are any of the conflicts and problems later discussed in the study “new,” or are these problems that have also been coming up within the profession in library history up to this point?

What does the Leigh article, which describes the status of public libraries at the end of the 1940's tell us about who was using the library in the Barelson article? Does Leigh's article add any perspective as to why some groups would or would not appear prominently at the library, or do you think Leigh's perspective differs from librarians of this period in terms of what he thinks is valuable reading material? How do the problems or controversies regarding popular fiction (that we have discussed in the past and that are
mentioned here) inform us about who might use the library in this time period or about who might find the library the most useful?

From Christine Pawley's book we know that there were often many diverse groups of people within one geographic area served by a public library, and that within a larger community there may be smaller "imagined" communities networked through commonalities in thought or opinion. Do you feel that Leigh or Barelson are making assumptions here about who they are referring to when they talk about the "community" or were users of the library (any readers of these articles) predominantly white, middle class urban folks so that it is justified to use assumed values of the middle class in arguing against having popular culture, fiction and "trashy" or "unorthodox" materials widely available in the library? Does the dominant culture (whatever it may be within different libraries or areas) always dictate what is found in the library rather than "imagined" communities or minority groups and values? Does the Library Bill of Rights have any effect on this?

What does it mean that Leigh's study was 1. completed by sociologists
(or non-librarians) within a sociological framework 2. requested by the
ALA and 3. funded by the Carnegie Corporation, if anything at all? How
should these facts inform our reading from what we have learned of
these aspects in class thus far?

Do the social scientists’ conclusions about public libraries differ from the perceptions provided by librarians? How does their conclusion regarding library schooling that “it would seem desirable to distinguish sharply between instruction for nonprofessional technical jobs…and graduate instruction for the professional degree” compare with our knowledge of library schools and the desire of librarians to establish themselves as professionals up to this point? Consider the conflict between the status of professionals and paraprofessionals in libraries today. Has the social scientists’ recommendation for library schools been resolved?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Book for final project

I just realized I forgot to post this! Sorry! I'll be reading "Privacy in the 21st Century: Issues for Public, School, and Academic Libraries" by by Helen R. Adams, Robert F. Bocher, Carol A. Gordon, and Elizabeth Barry-Kessler. It is a brand new book that just came out about two months ago, so I'm looking forward to being on the cutting edge of relevency.

Berelson, "Who Uses the Public Library?" II

"By and large, the older the people, the less they use the public library." (p. 23)

Berelson uses a good deal of his article to discuss age as a determinative factor of who uses the public library. Through several figures, he rigorously illustrates that in 1949, a large proportion of library users were school-age youths, between the ages of 5 and 15. He states one possible reason for this could be the physical ailments associated with age, i.e., lessened energy or "eyestrain." I wasn't really buying that reasoning.

Yet, he makes a much more compelling argument when he links age and education. He states that increasingly, younger adults have had more formal education than their elders and therefore more experience with written material in general, and the public library specifically. He even speculated that as the number of people exposed to formal education increased, the age of patrons would correspondingly rise. I am curious about the progression from Berelson's observations in 1949 on age, education level, and the public library to age and education level in the public library today. Do school-aged youths still make up a higher proportion of public library patronage today? If Berelson's predictions have turned out correct (and I think it seems that they have at least in part) is it solely due to the proliferation of formal education in our society? Is this a strictly linear progression or have other factors played a role in raising the age of patrons?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Nuns vs. Librarians

The today show did a segment about a week ago on a spelling bee between a group of nuns and librarians. It's pretty entertaining and the clip itself is only 2 minutes long. To see it, go to, click on video highlights, and where it says "MSN Video Search," replace with "nuns". The video is titled "Spelling nuns get the buzz for bees again". Click and enjoy.

"Who Uses the Public Library?"

"It is also relevant, and perhaps more important, to inquire into the relationship of the occupational composition of the public library's clientele to that of the population as a whole. Is the library's clientele a representative sample of the total adult population by occupation? Again the answer is "No." Professional and managerial people, students, and white-collar workers make greater use of the public library, relatively speaking, than do the other occupational groups." (pp.33-34)

"The young use the library more than the old, the better-educated more than the lesser educated and women more than, and differently from, men. The public library serves the middle class, defined either by occupation or by economic status, more than either the upper or lower classes."

Good social progressives that most librarians are, it is taken a priori that the number of working-class and poor people who use the library should be increased. But working people, as a single homogenous group, generally do not go to libraries. The homeless go there; some immigrants go there; and often the children of the poor (especially the children of recent immigrants) go there. But the people librarians most desperately want to reach out to--working-class adults--never do.

Is that a problem? Are we wasting our time, having been chasing these people now for almost a century?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Discussion on Libraries & War

In class on 3/23, we will be giving you some time for small group discussions on one or both of the following questions. We would like you to start thinking about these issues, but please do NOT post anything about it here to the weblog until after class.

Question 1: How does the ALA response to censorship, loyalty investigations and other privacy issues from 1930-1950 as discussed in this week’s readings compare and contrast to what you know of the ALA’s response to the current Iraq war and specifically the Patriot Act?

Question 2: The weblog discussion of our last reading (Pawley’s book) raised the question of how future historians can do research on patrons’ reading habits given the lack of current library records that link an item to a patron’s record. How do you think we can balance patrons’ privacy concerns in the 21st century (particularly in the current climate with the Patriot Act laws) and the desire of future library and print culture historians to study reading trends for our time?

book review part deux

On the other hand, I may just look at Unprofessional behavior : confessions of a public librarian by Will Manley. It sounds pretty interesting and I'm sure there may be some insightful reflections on the trials and tribulations of a public librarian. So yeah, maybe that's the way to go...

book review

I think I will most likely look at portions of "Patience and Fortitude: Wherein a Colorful Cast of Determined Book Collectors, Dealers, and Librarians Go About the Quixotic Task of Preserving a Legacy." I would like to look at the library's role in preservation of information in contrast to access of information. Does that make sense?

Book Review

I keep changing my mind, but I think that I am going to read Defining Print Culture for Youth edited by Lundin and Wiegand. We have touched on this subject a little bit with previous readings, but I thought it would be interesting to read more about children's lit in depth.

Library Bill of Rights

I'm just throwing this out there, but it sounds like the Library Bill of Rights is similar to a kind of legislation or constitution of some sort. Is there any sort of punishment though if libraries don't uphold these rights? It seems like there is a problem with the actual following through of ideas and organizations, despite the fact that they are "official" or in print. Their reality isn't always as effective as their ideals. Should their be some sort of accountability for libraries nationwide? or is this ridiculous?

Final Book Review

I'm going to read An active instrument for propaganda" : the American public library during World War I by Wayne Wiegand. I'm an advertising major so propaganda really interests me. I'm thinking this book is going to be great and, you've gotta support Wayne :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

book for final report

For the final book report, I intend to read Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. I think Putnam's book will be a good match to what we have read in class in general and Pawley specifically and I will consider what role libraries and print culture have had in light of the arguments Putman makes. I also think that Putnam can provide some valuable insight into the roles of libraries in the future, as growth of technology creates a society that is interlinked even more, but paradoxically feels more physically isolating.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Book selection: Running a Message Parlor

I've selected Gordon McShean's Running a Message Parlor: A Librarian's Medium-rare Memoir about Censorship because it reminds me of the "Radical Librarian" articles and it presents a librarian's view of the Swinging '60s/'70s and his struggle against the unhip censors from the DAR and John Birch Society.

This is probably also the only book about librarianship with a cartoon of a naked man on the cover.

final paper book selection

I have chosen A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World by Nicholas A. Basbanes for my final paper. I chose this book because I am interested in archives, preservation, and book collecting. I'm hoping to be able to draw parallels between A Splendor of Letters, Double Fold, and possibly Reading on the Middle Border.

final paper

For my final paper I'm looking at reading Making the List: A Cultural History of the American Bestseller by Micheal Korda. I'm interested in looking closely into why people read what they do, and how current events affects people's choices- or, if it is more closely linked to longevity of popular authors, or popular series (ie: Grisham, Steele, etc). A common thread in our readings so far this semester is our excitement over what people considered "good" and "bad" reading, as we've looked over books that were considered risque at some point, or in some locations. I think Korda's book is going to be interesting in that regards, to show how what might be considered controversial might still be popular. I think libraries really need to be in touch with what people are interested in, and alot of times I think they rely on the bestseller lists to show them what to order- Korda uses the Bookman lists and Pub. Weekly, so it might also be interesting to find circulation records on those books deemed popular in a year, as well as to examine if some genres are represented more often than others, if there are "male" and "female" books still today, and overall, how today's society, and past societies have shaped and reflected (or not) what people read.

Final Book Review

I will be reviewing Reading Sites: Social Difference and Reader Response, ed. by Partocinio Schweikart and Elizabeth Flynn. I chose this book because I am very interested in the issues of reading practices and gender, race, ethnicity, class and other "social categories" as they relate to librarianship and the history of libraries and librarianship. This book "examines a host of genres, from nineteenth-century working-class autobiographies and twentieth-century women's confessional magazines to detective fiction and book-club selections, to question how various groups of readers and authors identify with competing social hierarchies." I think it will be very interesting to apply the theories and issues discussed in this book to library history and the themes we have examined in this class.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Final Book Review

For the final paper I will be reading The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. As I am sure most people are aware, this book discusses the 'flattening' of the world that is occuring with the internet spreading information more quickly that ever before. I'm not completely familiar with Friedman's entire thesis, but I believe he proposes that information is now spread by multinational corporations rather than countries. Due to economics, political/government control over the spread of information is weakening, while the internet and corporations are spreading information faster than ever.

I'm interested in exploring how the spead of information and the multinational corporation's control over information is affecting libraries and patrons. Additionally, I would like to explore how users interpret a library's function/usefulness in light of the internet and economic influences on information.

Final Book Review

I chose Censorship and the American Library: The American Library Association's Response to Threats to Intellectual Freedom 1939-1969 by Louise Robbins for the final review. In this book Louise Robbins examines how the ALA addressed censorship and challenges to intellectual freedom, but she also traces how the profession developed as it responded to these issues. I wanted to read this because these issues are so fundamental to library and U.S. history. In addition, library science and history are still very new to me and I wanted to read a book a could provide a good foundation.

Final Book Review

For my final book review, I will be reading Carnegie Denied: Communities Rejecting Carnegie Library Construction Grants 1898-1925 edit by Robert Sidney Martin. This is a collection of seven stories of communities that rejected Carnegie funding for their public libraries. The communities discussed in this compellation include a wide geographic scope and encompass a range of reasons for rejecting Carnegie's money. I am particularly interested in the communities where unionized labor was vocal is the rejection of this money after the Homestead strike of 1892.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Book choice

I will be reading The Gutenberg Elegies: the fate of reading in an electronic age by Sven Birkerts for my final book review. I think this book will be interesting in comparison to Pawley's history of print culture in terms of how it might be affected by the electronic age. I am also interested to see what Birkerts has to say about the impact technology has on literary culture, particularly as it relates to some of the library trends exposed in Double Fold.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Final Book Review

I will be reading A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel for my final book review. I chose this book because of our recent discussions regarding the history of print culture and how libraries fit into that history. I think that this history of the transitions of written word will also provide insight to the changing ways that people read over time. It will be interesting to see how changing ways of reading corresspond to the changes in libraries over time.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

book review

I have chosen to read the Professor and the madman, a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the oxford english dictionary: by Simon Winchester.I am choosing this book because of my interest in the title of the book, and the fact that I was supposed to read it for another class that I dropped for this one (I really wanted to read it.) I'm very facinated with the notion of where we draw the line between brillance and madness and the title eludes that this book will be dealing with insanity. There are some very interesting ideas that are thrown around when talking about Melville Dewey and his obsessive compulsive issues and how this most likely shaped many of the ideas of how the library greatly shifted from a place for the upper class to work and play to a place for everyone; the public domain.

Final Book Review

For my final book review, I am choosing to read Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles, a rare book librarian at Harvard. The book discusses the social meaning of the library and how that shifts over time throughout the world. Battles discusses library buildings and burnings (both books and buildings) and specifically recounts the book burning done in Nazi Germany during WWII (a subject of particular interest to me). According to Publishers Weekly (courtesy of, Battles' theme is "despite the rule of barbarians or megalomaniacal kings, angry mobs and natural disasters, people's hunger for books has ensured the library's survival." And if that's not a hopeful thought for spring, I don't know what is....

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Final book review

For the final review I plan to read The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System by Siva Vaidhyanathan. I want to read this book because I like the title.

I also want to read this book because it looks pretty interesting. Per a Publisher's Weekly blurb on, the book is a follow-up to Vaidhyanathan's Copyrights and Copywrongs and covers contemporary issues of information and technology in society while framing those issues in a historical context.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Final Book Review

I'm reading "Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World," by Nicholas Basbanes. The author looks at how we learn about historical figures based on what we know of what they read and how such figures as diverse as John Milton, Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, the Marquis de Sade, and even Hitler were shaped by what texts they perused and found of worth. Basbanes also looks at "some of the most articulate readers of our time," in an effort to explore the importance of this type of historical research. Basically, he claims that by looking at what has been read throughout history, we can get a much broader understanding of the societal beliefs and views of a particular time in history, which is what we have been discussing in class, especially in relation to Pawley's book and what those library records tell us about the Osage community at the turn of the century.

Final Book Selection

I have chosen to write my final book review on Evelyn Geller's "Forbidden Books in American Public Libraries, 1876-1939." After reading next week's readings on censorship and librarianship, I realize that this book is probably old hat to seasoned veterans of SLIS. Yet, as a student new to the study of librarianship in general, I've found one of the most fascinating historical tensions we've studied so far is the question of "right" vs. "wrong" kinds of reading. I certainly never realized this was still such an issue in librarianship today. I'd like to read Geller's book because it seems to offer an in-depth look at censorship as a reaction to changing American politics, economics, and social norms in the late 19th and early 20th century. Though the readings for next week go into some detail, I'd like to look even more deeply into just what kinds of literature were considered dangerous, and why.

Monday, March 13, 2006

"In Service to the State: Wisconsin Public Libraries During WWI": The upside of "Bowling Alone"?

Ignoring the section on censorship and fervent, frankly toadying desire of librarians to be seen as "patriotic", even the first part of this article on libraries' efforts to support the war effort serves as a cautionary note for those who claim that a robust civil society is an unalloyed good. Someone should send a copy of this to Robert Putnam. The slavish obedience with which libraries and "150 other organizations" mentioned in this article offered to the federal government to support the war demonstrates a kind of cheerful insanity.

To me it seemed that mere jingoism and hysteria isn't enough to explain to ardour with which librarians went about this awful work. It seems more that they wanted so badly to be seen as real "professionals"--and particularly, to convince, "Young men that library work is a profession." (emphasis mine)--that ethics fell by the wayside. You could even see this as a miniature parable of modernism or of the First World War itself: A desire to be "modern" and "useful" that blinded people to the idiotic consequences of their actions.

Final Book Choice

For my final book review, I am reading Libricide: The Regime-Sponsored Destruction of Books and Libraries in the Twentieth Century by Rebecca Knuth, a professor of the University of Hawaii's Library and Information Studies department. At first glance, this does not seem a likely book for a class titled "History of American Librarianship." However, Knuth discusses the cultural processes regarding book burning and library looting/destruction and I feel this has relevancy to America's history of censoring books and libraries, intellectual freedom and access to information issues, and how culturally significant libraries are as well as their place in societies, all topics we will have discussed by the end of this class. I am especially interested in how Knuth will construct an argument for the reasons people "consider the destruction of books a positive process" since it still happens today even in the U.S., in addition to her final conclusion that libricide destroys not only books and libraries but the "common cultural heritage of the world" since that places libraries in societies and history as particularly special cultural agents (which we as a class would all agree upon but not necessarily other entities). And I am really intrigued by the concept of "libricide."

Final Book Review

For my final book review, I have chosen to read Genevieve M. Casey's "Library Services for the Aging." I want to read this book because I am interested in working with elderly individuals after I earn a degree in Social Work and I feel this book will allow me to analyze the library resources available to that population. This issue is also highly relevant because the growing elderly population will heavily impact multiple aspects of American culture, including the public library.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Final Book Choice

For our final assignment, I have chosen to review Revolting Librarians Redux, a sequel to the book Revolting Librarians from the 70's. Redux was edited by Katia (K.R.) Roberto and Jessamyn West in 2003. I am interested in this work because it contains the thoughts and feelings of a collection librarians first hand, and it presents a picture of active librarians speaking out fairly recently. I am also interested in comparing this work to its earlier predecessor and also in looking at this work in terms of the historic yet lingering struggles of librarians that we have covered in class (feminization, pay, etc.).

Friday, March 10, 2006

Final Book Choice

For the final review, I plan on reading Cultural Crusaders: Women Librarians in the American West 1900-1917 by Joanne E. Passet. I chose this book because I am interested in women's roles in the early formation of libraries, and I also think it will be a nice compliment to some of the other things we have read in class. It will provide another perspective since most of what we have read so far has been centered on the East coast and Midwest. Also, I liked Passet's writing style in her article we read for class.
For the book report I had orginally planned on reading Forbidden Books in American Public Libraries 1876-1939 as I am interested in the changing role of censorship in our society but I just foundNicholas Basbanes Patience and Fortitude which is a romp through the history of books, collections of books, and their collectors. I am intereseted in this book as it was well reviewed and seems to cover a number of interesting subjects related to the history of books and book collections and the importance they have to society.

"Out of the Flames"

For my book report, I plan to read "Out of the Flames" by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. The book is about a 16th century Spanish scholar, Miguel Servetus, who was put to death for heresy for his book "Christianisimi Restitutio," which laid out the foundations of Unitarianism. Servetus was burned at the stake along with--so it was believed--every existing copy of his book. It turns out that three copies survived and over the next four centuries, passed through a huge number of different hands, handled by many later-famous people, surviving revolutions, wars and book burnings, ending up in France, Britain, and the United States. I'm interested in the book because its sort of represents the "perfect storm" of censorship: A book that simply could not be done away with, despite the best and most vicious efforts to do so.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Final Book Review Choice

I thought I would get this out of the way before springbreak. The book that I have chosen to read for the final book review is Lives of Women Public Schoolteachers. This book looks at the lives of various women schoolteachers from different regions of the United States during the late 19th and early 20th century. I am interested in comparing the feminization of schoolteachers with the feminization of libraries.

Availability of popular Sage Library books

A quick follow-up on my comment about in class today (because I'm a bookselling geek, not because I don't think Amazon is a good proxy for current "cultural profile" of books). Of the four titles listed as "unavailable" from Amazon, all can be found at Warner's books appear to be scarce on the market, the single copy of Clay's title probably more indicative of the large number of titles she published. Note- the market for forgotten 19th century novelists is extremely small, so it is likely that many copies are uncatalogued, sitting lonely and dusty in boxes or on bargain shelves of used bookstores and resale shops. These sorts of books often come to booksellers in boxes from "grandpa's attic," along with old encyclopedias and Reader's Digest condensed books. Consequently, they are often rejected for purchase or warehoused.

1. A Brave Lady by "Miss Mulock"- 12 copies currently for sale, at reasonable prices.

2. For Another's Sin by Bertha M. Clay- none listed under pen-name Clay, one listed for $16.50 under author's real surname Braeme. Hundreds of copies of other titles by Clay are listed, 18 of them containing the word "Sin" or "Sins" in the title.

3. Diana by Susan Warner- 3 copies for sale, for $35, $45, and $150.

4. The Letter of Credit by Susan Warner- 3 copies for sale, for $100, $132, and $356.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

On pages 180 and 181 of Reading on the Middle Border, Pawley discusses the role of the newspaper as a community advocate while telling the story of the death of Price V. Evans. The headline about his death said that he committed suicide but the article goes on to question the plausibility of the act. While creating speculation throughout the community, the paper is quick to point out that the Evans family is well educated and from a “highly respectable background.” Earlier in the chapter, Pawley claims that the press was a vehicle to perpetuate the prejudices of white, Protestant Anglophones, which is evident in questioning of Price Evan’s act of suicide. Similarly to the Mitchell County Press in 1895, this week’s edition of Newsweek perpetuates national prejudices through its representation of Hurricane Katrina evacuees living in Houston, TX. The two images used in this article show two extremes of citizens forced to relocate. First there is a photo of a black women being arrested after a “domestic fracas” and second there is a white man in a wheelchair with his few possessions in a sad looking hotel room. How do these images perpetuate the racial stereotypes that are present in our country? Was the Mitchell County Press as obvious in their perpetuation when denying the plausibility of the suicide of a boy from a good family?

Library Records: the future of our history

In addition to your personal library habits, I would like to discuss the practice of maintaining library records for historical research. Pawley was able to access records that indicated which books a patron checked out and how often a patron visited the library. Libraries today take very serious measures to make sure those exact records are not accessible, and in many cases, do not exist. Do you believe that this practice will have an affect on the quality of library history that is written in the future? If so, how do we strike a balance between protecting personal information and providing a true historical record?

Library practices in Osage vs your family

In Pawley’s chapter on the Sage Library, she discusses the reading and library use patterns of many families, from their similarities in material selection, to the number of books that a family member would have checked out at one time. One example is the John L. Whitney household. From their library records Pawley demonstrates a pattern of weekly charges to each of the children until they were approximately seventeen or eighteen, when she predicts that they left for college. She also discusses the possibility of a number of family members reading a book that was checked out on a single account. She acknowledges that this would affect the reading statistics of Osage but that it also affects the consumption of print culture within a family.

I am interested to know if anyone can recall any print consumption patterns from their own childhood. Did you take weekly trips to the library with a particular family member? Was there a limit to the number of books you were allowed to check out on those visits? Was there a specific time of day when newspapers filled your dinning room table or when you recall you family reading?

To you get you thinking...

Population Overview: Osage, IA

Population Overview: Madison, WI

Religious Affiliation: Mitchell County, IA

Religious Affiliation: Dane County, WI

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Capital Times article on UW-Madison libraries

Let's think about this weekend's Capital Times article on UW-Madison libraries as an historical document. For example, think of all the claims and assumptions in this short excerpt:

The cafe is one of several changes UW-Madison library officials have taken in recent years to keep the libraries relevant, enticing and cost-effective.

Many stodgy, book-heavy university libraries have used business models to retool their product for a new, technologically savvy generation. Although libraries do not have to make a profit, they do need to justify their existence to state policymakers, campus administration and, increasingly, private donors. And that means bringing people in the doors.

Libraries, once bastions of silence, are quickly becoming the academic equivalent of the student union.

Those of you who have worked and/or studied in our Memorial and College libraries might want to give the full article a read and comment below as both historical voices and historical analysts ...

Statistics from Class Activity

The following are the statistics we used during the class activity.

During the nineties, 9 out of 10 public, academic and school librarians were white.

8.61% of 1995-96 MLS graduates considered themselves non-white.

13% of 2001 MLS graduates considered themselves non-white.

7-10% of librarians today are gay.

62% of gay men have disclosed their sexual orientation in the workplace.

33% of lesbians have disclosed their sexual orientation in the workplace.

In 2002, 5.75% of full time library science faculty were African American.

In 2002, 9.49% of full time library science faculty were Asian American/Pacific Islander.


Adkins, Denise and Espinal, Isabel. “The Diversity Mandate.” Library Journal 129(7):

Cooke, James C. “Gay and Lesbian Librarians and the ‘Need’ for GLBT Library
Organizations: Ethical Questions, Professional Challenges and Personal
Dilemmas In and ‘Out’ of the Workplace.” Journal of Information Ethics 14(2):

Grady, Jenifer and Hall, Tracie. “The World is Changing: Why Aren’t We?” Library
Worklife 1(4)

Lynch (1998) Racial and Ethnic Diversity Among Librarians: A Status Report

Thursday, March 02, 2006

US race and religion statistics

Since we talked about this in class today, I pulled up the census figures for race. (See

White -- 75.1%
Black/African-American -- 12.3%
American Indian or Alaskan Native -- .9%
Asian -- 3.6%
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander -- .1%
Other race -- 5.5%
Two or more races (multiracial) -- 2.4%

"Hispanic Origin" is a seperate census category, with 12.5% of people identifying as Hispanic or Latino.

The US census does not ask about religion, but the Purdue Association of Religion Data Archive (see lists the following as the largest religious groups in the US:

Christian -- 84.12%
Jewish -- 1.92%
Muslim -- 1.55%
Buddhist -- .91%

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Gays and the Oklahoma library

I came across this today on some of the LGBT blogs and thought people might want to know about it, since it kinda ties into the article about gays and libraries.

Officials To Segregate Controversial Children's Books

The Metropolitan Library Commission voted on Thursday to add a special parenting section to libraries across Oklahoma City.

The book "King and King" left some parents calling for a change to where certain books were placed in the library.The commission's plan will move books from 12 recommended topics, including homosexuality, child abuse and drug abuse, to the new parenting section.

The article is short, but you can also see some video footage here:

Wiki update

The wiki is filling with some very interesting content. I have two requests as people post their tidbits of library history:

(1) Please leave "backlinks" at the top and bottom of each of your individual entries, corresponding to the areas of the wiki that your entry is connected to. For example, "Back to 1850s" and/or "Back to race/ethnicity issues in librarianship"

(2) Please add your name to the bottom of the front page of the wiki as an "author" so the whole world wide web can congratulate you.

Libraries to the People!

Sanford Berman, can you dig him? In Libraries to the People, Berman, clearly identifying with some part of the revolutionary movement, tells us what exactly is wrong with libraries. I'm not going to do alot of summary- the article was short and I think one of the more engaging ones we've read. So, published in 1972 by the Bootlegger Press, Berman's style is extraordinarily different from anything we've read this semester. Take a minute to glance over it again (its short) and first, for class tommorow jot in the margins some ways this style is different then, quickly, take a highlighter, and mark phrases or words within the piece that serve to mark his style. Berman writes that the library is sorely lacking in its promise to provide materials for everyone. (Though the article was written in 72, let's be thinking of the ways this perhaps, holds true today). Freely offering ideas of magazines and journals that could be added to balance out the library collection, Berman sees some hope in the state of libraries as they were. However, even if each patron made a wish list for their library, and this list was implemented, would that be enough? Or, is it the library always inherently going to fall short of pleasing every patron. Berman concludes with commentary about the card catalogue.-" chances are overwhelming that it contains an unbelievable pile of crap" Berman touches on what we discussed a few weeks ago, regarding the inadequacies of the card catalogue, just a little more forcefully than in previous weks. So, what do we think of Berman? Is he saying what we're all thinking? How do we view this article in relation to being a part of Library History? To play devil's advocate, is Berman only preaching to the choir in this article? Or, is the library not as useful to certain groups of people? Who is supposed to care after reading this? Would a more "professional" piece (what does that mean, anyway) speak louder to librarians, or are they already on the same page as Berman? Is there a widening gap in patronage today- the "straight-lacers" and the "hip" and if , what can libraries do about this- keeping budgets in mind, and other factors?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Gays in Library Land

This article discusses the American Library Association’s the inception of and subsequent activities of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The article is written by a lesbian non-librarian who describes herself as an activist. Barbara Gittings took over as coordinator for the Task Force after its first year and led it for another 15.
Gittings discusses her own realization of sexual identity and her search for literature that represented her. Her activism eventually led her to the ALA and librarians working for change within libraries and the Association itself following the Stonewall riots of 1969. The missions of the Task Force in the beginning were about raising awareness of the Task Force, raising awareness of gay and lesbian patrons’ needs within libraries (and beyond). To that end, they created bibliographies, awards for best gay and lesbian books, workshops, and discussions. In its first year, the Task Force pushed the ALA to adopt a platform of recognition and tolerance of gays and lesbians. As society grew more accepting, so did the publishing and library fields, which offered more literature by and for gays and more accessibility to that literature in libraries. Much of the article describes the actions, accomplishments and failures of the Task Force throughout Gittings’ time with it.
Considering this is written by a non-librarian (a “lay” person, in her words), is there anything missing from this account of the history of gays in librarianship and if so, what? Whose history is this article discussing? How helpful is this history in constructing a broader history of gays and lesbians in librarianship? How are libraries presented in this article? Librarians? Because Gittings is an activist, what do you think of her call to action by librarians? Do you agree? Lastly, since this is the only article about gays we have had to read in class (and may be the only one), why do you think this article was chosen?

Monday, February 27, 2006

"Race issues in Library History" - Wiegand and Davis

Wiegand and Davis’ article, “Race issues in Library History” (1994) focuses on library race issues in relation to the American Library Association (ALA), rather than adopting a broader lens on the history of race in libraries and librarianship as a profession. They state their narrow scope in the opening sentence: “…this article considers the issue of race mostly from the perspective of the history of the American Library Association, the oldest and largest professional library association in the world…”.

Keeping with the stated focus of study, Wiegand and Davis discuss various ALA landmark events concerning race relations in librarianship such as the ALA’s first concern with library service to blacks (1913), ALA’s Round Table on “Work with Negroes” (1922), the 1954 push to create one ALA chapter per state rather than have segregated chapters, and the addition to the Library Bill of Rights stating library use cannot be denied to people because of race, religion, national origins or legal views (1961). All of these events are important when studying race relations in library science; however Wiegand and Davis’ limited study of only the ALA does the issue injustice.

This becomes apparent when comparing the encyclopedia article with “‘The Place to Go’: The 135th Street Branch Library and the Harlem Renaissance” by Anderson. This article offers incite as to true race relations in libraries, instead of simply focusing on the ALA’s response to these racial issues. The fact that the creation of a library “Division of Negro Literature, History and Prints” in 1925 goes unmentioned by Wiegand and Davis illustrates the failure of the article to paint a history of race issues in libraries.

Wiegand and Davis could not have picked this limited scope without reason; why did they choose to focus on the ALA’s response to race issues instead of focusing on occurrences in libraries such as the desegregation of libraries and the hiring history of black librarians?

(P.S. - It has been pointed out to me that this article is by Josey, Weigand and Davis are the eds. Whoops. So, when reading this please mentally insert Josey rather than W&D. Apologies.)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

"The Place to Go" Anderson Reading

In this article, Anderson explores the role that the 135th St. Branch of the New York Public Library (located in Harlem) played in the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s. The Harlem Renaissance represented a period of prolific literary and artistic output by African-Americans. Anderson points out that “many…memoirs and histories of this period hint at the significant role that the library played in the Harlem community, but the mention is often little more than a sentence” (p. 384). In her article, Anderson attempts to examine more fully the relationship between the library and the community around it, as well as looking at the influence of Ernestine Rose, the white head librarian during this time period. Anderson highlights Rose’s progressive views on library management and mission and how this led to the success of the library in the community and the strength of its legacy. The centerpiece of Rose’s leadership style was connecting with the community; she “…understood ‘how vitally important it is that [a librarian] should study people and their interests’ and that by connecting with those interests he or she can make the library ‘ a living, vital force, to touch these interests at as many points as possible, through his book collection, through the personnel of his staff, through his method of approach, his publicity and his activities of all kinds” (p. 387). Throughout the article we see how Rose did all of these things at the 135th St. Branch. In this way, Harlem’s library became an integral part of the Harlem Renaissance. A place where writers, artists and actors could both cultivate their talents and have an audience with whom to share them. It provided a space for voices that had previously been silenced by society to be heard. Finally, Anderson looks at what she feels is the most important legacy of the 135th St. Branch, the history and development of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which today is one of the preeminent collections of information on black history and culture.

A few questions that came out of the reading for me:

How much of the success or the influence of the 135th St. Branch can be attributed to Rose and how much can be attributed to the community’s own initiatives? Was it the library influencing the community or the community influencing the library?

In the article, Anderson talks about the library becoming a “black public sphere” –a place for members of the community to come together and discuss/debate issues that are important to them (p. 409-410). She lists several different places that can fall into the “black public sphere”, but she says that at this time, “…it was the library that proved capable of encompassing the greatest range of voices” (p. 410). Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why or why not?

In terms of its service to the community around it, do you think the 135th St. Branch was unique in comparison to other libraries in predominantly black neighborhoods around the U.S. at this time or was it representative of such libraries? How representative is it of libraries today in neighborhoods with large minority populations?