Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Philosophies of Librarianship

Through the invention of print, books became numerous enough to warrant personal collections. Through these collections, there came opinions on what should be collected, how it should be arranged, and the “conceptions of purpose, obligations and techniques of a good librarian.” From the 17th century to folks like Shera and Ranganathan, this article gives a brief look into the historic philosophies that were dominant in librarianship up to ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and Broadfield’s ideas of freedom of choice. In terms of the United States, McCrimmon describes, “The philosophy of American librarianship, therefore, gradually developed as an aspect of the national philosophy, centering on intellectual freedom, the infinite possibility of progress, public support of education as a necessary part of responsible citizenship in a democracy, and the value of continuing education throughout life” (495).

What, if anything, has been added to the philosophies of librarianship after this piece leaves off around 1950?
What do you feel was not mentioned in this article? What other philosophies do you feel are missing? Where does the user, or different types of users, fit into these philosophies?
Do you feel like you can relate your library life to any of these outlooks?

3 comments:

Lia said...

What, if anything, has been added to the philosophies of librarianship after this piece leaves off around 1950?
What do you feel was not mentioned in this article? What other philosophies do you feel are missing? Where does the user, or different types of users, fit into these philosophies?
Do you feel like you can relate your library life to any of these outlooks?

These are great questions. I feel like the one thing that the article does not go into depth on is digital technology and the philosophies around that. The article is over ten years old, which is partially the reason, although, as the article indicated, professionals have been talking about technology/information science for several years. I don't know if we can simply take some of the old philosophies and apply them to today. Looking at Ortega y Gasset's philosophy that "unbridled publication" will turn users away from books, we can see that the technology of today is already moving away from books and paper. Can librarians still have control, as Ortega y Gasset had advocated for? With Google, a private-but-free uber-search engine, becoming increasingly popular with so many people (as well as monopolizing many web related entities), will libraries have to start gaining private support? Or is that a mute point?

Kristin said...

Earlier today, I happened to read an article, which may begin to answer your question: What, if anything, has been added to the philosophies of librarianship after this piece leaves off around 1950? In order to figure out what has been added, we need to figure out what the current philosophies are. The Library Journal article, Rivkah Sass—Librarian of the Year 2006 by John N. Berry III, offers one perspective of current philosophies of librarianship. Here is the link to the full text: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6298433.html.

The article paints a picture Rivkah Sass’s work as the director of the Omaha Public Library with frequent quotes from the nominee. From her statements, we can piece together some of the current philosophies of librarianship. Sass believes librarians should take an active role in their community:

“We had librarians doing nothing but checking out books. They weren't out in the community. They weren't really managing. They weren't taking care of the collection,” says Sass.

She has taken on an active role to advertise and promote library usage:

Since she arrived at OPL, Sass has given some 50 presentations where she talks about the library and what the citizens of Omaha ought to expect from it. She covers the circuit, addressing literary groups, service clubs, neighborhood cliques, and many others.

She emphasizes staying current:

“The libraries were too full of too much old stuff…we've added downloadable audiobooks and ebooks and put money into our DVD collection,” Sass asserts.

There is still a suggestion of censorship: “‘You may not find Legally Blonde in the DVD collection, but you will find last year's Sundance winners and other important movies.’”

The author’s summary adds a bit more: “Rivkah Sass is a librarian unafraid of, indeed energized by, risk, happy to force change, and rooted in a library philosophy of service and ‘give 'em what they want.’”

Her philosophy can be simplified to “have what people want and make sure they know you have it.”

Quinn Fullenkamp said...

The article made me wonder what type of legacy I will leave in my own library work! We (in SLIS) are not asked to formulate our own philosophy of librarianship, and I wonder why we do not? I am in the process of formulating my teaching phliosophy for LIS 620, but why not one for librarianship? Is it time that we librarians form a new one to reflect the time in which we live, and the world we face tomorrow?