Thursday, April 27, 2006
"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
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
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
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
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 cafés 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
“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
Monday, April 17, 2006
Saturday, April 15, 2006
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
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
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?
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?
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
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
Thank you so much!
Friday, April 07, 2006
Thursday, April 06, 2006
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
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?
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
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!
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!)