Tuesday, January 29, 2008


This is just a general exclamation of joy: I decided to sit in on this class partly because several of the readings I did for the Information and Labor class I took from Dr. Downey two three (argh!) years ago have become part of my mental furniture, coloring the way I think about my profession and its institutions.

I am just loving all the reading I've done so far for this course (and I will nerdily admit to being a week or so ahead in the reader), and I'm rearranging my mind to make room for more furniture!

Seriously, the Harris article and the reactions to it are pure unadulterated awesome. I hope we get a chance to talk through how some of the attitudes attributed to various parties (from donors to patrons to government to librarians themselves) persist in modern librarianship, because I was seeing an awful lot that feels familiar...

My apologies to everyone for the contentless post -- I'm just happy and wanted to share.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Questions for reading-Week 2

Here are the questions and comments group 2 came up with for the readings for class on Tuesday, Jan. 29.


Theresa and Emily

J. P. Quincy, Free Libraries

Quincy’s article entitled Free Libraries appeared in Public Libraries in the United States of America: their History, Condition, and Management which Dee Garrison writes “was a summation of the knowledge and experience gained in libraries during the period since 1853” (Garrison, 4). The report was commissioned by the U.S. Bureau of Education and “mainly addressed itself to the librarians moral responsibilities,” (Garrison, 4) along with providing practical advice. Quincy discusses issues such as the use of public funds to finance libraries and to provide books that are morally questionable. He also asserts that libraries will benefit public education and that they provide access to people of all economic backgrounds education. Quincy argues that the libraries main goal should be to create a more literate and moral society. Garrison writes that the report became “an indispensable library manual for several years to come” (Garrison, 4). How did these ideas transform the early years of the public library and translate into what we now expect of the public library? Do these issues have any relevance to today’s libraries and if so how?

Quincy believed “We cannot evade a responsibility which has been placed upon us of the passing generation. One of the most promising institutions yet born into the world must be bequeathed to our successors as an instrument always working in the direction of moral and social developments” (Quincy, 399). What are the perceived responsibilities of today’s library? How do librarians fulfill the duties associated with the library’s responsibilities? Quincy concludes “Unlike all other public charities, the free library is equally generous to those who have and to those who lack. It cares as tenderly for the many as for the few, and removes some of those painful contrasts in human opportunity which all good men are anxious to rectify” (Quincy, 402). Was this statement true during Quincy’s time and is it true today?

Jesse Shera, Causal factors in public library development

In this article, Shera discusses what he considers the main forces that contributed to the early development of the public library. These forces include economic ability; scholarship, historical research and the urge for conservation; local pride; universal public education; self-education; vocational influence; and various others. Shera implies that the economic ability of a community was the primary factor in the development of a public library. However, he is reluctant to say that this is the most important factor. Besides economic ability, Shera does not state which factors had greater influence. Shera concludes by saying the underlying factors were “the people themselves-countless individuals in innumerable towns who had faith in the public library and believed implicitly in social value” (Shera 243-244).

As we read this article, we wondered how these factors apply to modern day libraries. When a village/city/town forms a new public library, what are the factors? Is it simply based on community desire? Does economic ability still play a primary role in whether or not a community decides to create a new library?

How “public” were these public libraries? In the development of libraries, did Shera consider the communities or groups that were blatantly ignored?

After reading the articles by Shera and Williams, do you think Williams’ critique of Shera is valid? Why or why not?

Between Quincy’s article and Shera’s, how has the view of the public library changed?

Shera writes “The belief was widely held that reading was a ‘good’ thing in itself and that the act of reading tended to elevate the reader, and this faith in the printed word as an instrument for the building of character is often expressed by the proprietors of corporation libraries” (238). Based on Quincy’s article, would he agree with this assessment of the power of reading?

Robert V. Williams, The Public Library as the Dependent Variable: Historically Oriented Theories and Hypotheses of Pubic Library Development

Williams writes that library historians need combine an idiographic approach which he defines as “statements [that] can be made only about specific time and place” with a nomothetic approach which he defines as “attempts to make universal generalizations about phenomena” (Williams, 329-330). Williams goes on to discuss different theories of how historians have approached library history. He reviews the main theories regarding the development of the public library including: the social conditions theory, democratic tradition theory, and social control theory. In reviewing these theories, he provides benefits and critiques of each. He writes, “the central weaknesses are the lack of specification about the relationships between the variables and the failure to include casually oriented statement that explains the why of public library development” (Williams, 339). He ultimately argues that in the end both approaches, the idiographic and nomothetic, are needed.

Williams gives us the main theories and shows us how they fail and provides us an alternative, but where do we start? Especially given the fact that “our community of scholars is small and the issues so diverse” (Williams, 330). Do you believe that one of these theories provides us with a better starting point? Williams writes “The three candidate theoretical explanations of public library development considered thus far have all treated the library as a dependent variable, subject to factors within the social system but having no direct effect on the social system or, indirectly, on itself” (Williams, 338). How does this tie in with Quincy’s view of libraries as a moral center in the community? If the initial expectation of libraries was to have a specific effect on the community, what are the implications of overlooking this effect in historical research? How would one study the impact of the library on its community?

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Hi LIS 569,

I'm Emily and I am a first year SLIS student. I am interested in working in an academic library, possibly in reference services. Right now I work at the SLIS library, so you might see me behind the desk. See you all in class!


Hey-I'm Theresa, a first-year SLIS student. I entered the program with the intention of going into public library work, but have since changed my mind. I'm not sure exactly what area I want to go into, but I'm open for anything. I tried uploading a picture, but my internet connection is quite shady, so I was unable. I'll try again later. Looking forward to an interesting class! Okay, I tried and here is the picture.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Hola. I'm Tammy.
I am a second year SLIS student. My focus is on Youth Services and Outreach to recent immigrants. I am most passionate about second language acquisition, that is - how children get ready to read when they are learning two languages at once and therefore I am always working to master Best Practices for Bilingual Storytimes...

I'm from Minnesota and
a single mother of a beautiful 4 year old girl named Isabel.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Hi - I'm Peter\Petey - known in the blog as Belle Et Sebastian after one of my favorite bands, Belle and Sebastian. I've lived in Madison most of my life, save for university in Minneapolis, and a short stint in Boston. I'm most fascinated by the interaction of technology with traditional library resources. In particular I am interested in the controversy around the inclusion of devices such as IPods , MP3 downloads and game systems within library holdings.
When I was younger I enjoyed playing table soccer. Hence, I have decided to include a picture of myself playing table soccer this past summer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Hello LIS 569!!
My name is Joslyn Rosen. I am currently a senior here at UW-Madison majoring in Psychology. I am looking very forward to this class!

Intro: Angela

Hello, LIS 569! My name is Angela. I am an undergraduate history major here at the University and I plan on applying to the SLIS program in the Fall. I grew up in Northfield, Minnesota to a working-class family and I will soon join my sister as one of the first college graduates in the family. I began working at the Law Library about a year ago and I enjoy it a great deal. I am excited for the spring semester and learning about librarianship. I plan on traveling to Washington, D.C. in the spring, and the Library of Congress will be the first on the list! I hope it lives up to the praise from the vintage video in class.

Intro: Kristina Glodoski

Hello LIS 569 bloggers!
I am enrolled currently as a special student (within SLIS), but plan to enter the SLIS grad program in Fall 2009. I have worked for the Memorial Library since 2001, and have been working as a full-time LSA since I graduated from the UW in 2003 (BA: history and communication arts). I have lived in Madison for all my 27 years, and I am very much looking forward to this class!

Intro: Dorothea Salo

By Greg's leave, I will be sitting in on 569 this semester. I'm the Digital Repository Librarian for the University of Wisconsin System, which means that I run this service. I am also a SLIS graduate, class of 2005.

No pictures, sorry; I hate having pictures of myself on the internet. Also, I apologize in advance for being late to class today; I have to run a meeting at 2.

Looking forward to the course!

Post an introduction! (With a picture.)

Hi folks. By now you've all received an invitation from me to join this weblog as an author. My first challenge to you is to make a short posting on this front page where you introduce yourself. And for the brave: See if you can figure out how to include a picture of yourself as well!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Spring 2008 syllabus coming soon

Hi folks, welcome to our class weblog. I almost have the articles and assignments set for Spring 2008. Everything should be ready by the first day of classes -- watch this space.