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: http://www.wla.lib.wi.us/legis/relevance.htm

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. http://www.bartlesville.org/womensnetwor/ruthbrownletter.html

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: babillman@wisc.edu.
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.

Thoughts?

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.