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LIS 950: Libraries and community

The purpose of this seminar is to explore an important topic in library and information studies in depth — in all its intertwined historical, cultural, philosophical, and political aspects — through a graduate reading/discussion seminar. The topic varies each time the course is taught; this time around, we will focus on "libraries and community"

Friday, September 30, 2005

Just a few thoughts

This book is really fascinating. Same with Blair, what struck me most is the conflict and reconciliation of the two professions in the process of professionalization which were embodied in building public libraries. Van Slyck must be highly sensitive and insightful to be able to sense all the subtle relationships including controls, conflicts, struggles, cooperations, etc.

However, I am somewhat surprised by the comments on the last two chapters. To me, these chapters make the story complete, both in structure and in content.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The charging desk question

I do not know what I exactly want to make of the central importance Van Slyck places on the charging desk. It almost seems to easy to show the limits the charging desk places on women, but I wonder about the perception of men who worked at the charging desk. Although there was feminization in librarianship male librarians in the United States, seem to be lost in discussion of the impact of the charging desks. In the late 19th and early 20th century, I wonder how charging desks came to be called and utilized elsewhere in the world.

pink collar workers

I enjoyed reading about using architecture to look at social processes and history in Free to All. I agree with Jom in that it altered my thinking.

Van Slyck uses the term pink collar workers and I couldn't find a source for it. Does anyone know where this term comes from or did she make it up?


With all of the discussion about observing others/gaze/etc, did anyone else out there expect Lacan to turn up somewhere along the line?

Chronicle of Higher Education piece on academic library design

Just in time for our discussion of library architecture and social relations tomorrow comes this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled Thoughtful Design Keeps New Libraries Relevant:

The Internet brought predictions of the demise of the library and, on some campuses, the marginalization of librarians themselves. But now librarians increasingly find that administrators, professors, and students see the library building as essential, a romanticized heart of the campus. At the same time, though, libraries have changed radically from the stodgy and stuffy repositories of years past. Some people wonder whether libraries have loosened up too much, and what libraries will look like in the future.

Unlike most Chronicle articles, this one is free to view at the link above. One particular tidbit describes a recent study on library use correlated with library space:

After his library opened at Penn State Harrisburg, Hal Shill was interested in finding and ranking the features that brought people in. He and Shawn C. Tonner, director of the library at Reinhardt College, in Waleska, Ga., sent survey forms to fellow library directors, asking them about various aspects of their buildings and to rate how those aspects affected library use.

The responses from about 180 institutions revealed surprising patterns. For example, Mr. Shill found that the location of a library on a campus made little difference in its popularity among students. Library size did not matter, nor did the number of study rooms in a building or the availability of wireless access. "The presence of a cybercafe -- that was a wash," he says. "It was not a statistically significant feature, but I would recommend it as a creature comfort."

More basic comforts rated highly: the quality of natural lighting, the quality of work spaces, the quality of the heating and air-conditioning system, and the overall ambiance of the building. Computer and Internet access -- such as the number of data ports, the quality of the telecommunication system, and the quality of the public-access workstations -- were also vital to the success of a building.


His report had a salient point: If a library is deserted, it's not necessarily because the Internet has taken over. It's more likely, he says, that the building itself is outdated, poorly lit, underfinanced, and depressing -- say, a 1960s relic that is less attractive than another place to study, like a friend's house or a local coffee shop. It could be that the library has not added amenities like data ports, group-study areas, and casual learning spaces to accommodate the way students work today.

Any thoughts from the class?

Money VS IT Capitalism

I think the ideas from the book denote the ongoing era of capitalism – the use of Carnegie’s money. This makes me to think about our era today. I am seeing it as an information technology era, and there are evidences that IT capitalism, not only financial capitalism, play pivotal roles in library. So, this marks another milestone in library history that IT becomes one of the major causes of reshaping library architecture, culture, processes or cycles of library and information transaction in this era. Is it true that we now need all kinds of richness—IT richness, financial richness, knowledge richness, access richness, and the likes. Whether it is true or not, then, why do we or do we not need them all? Who are actors that can facilitate the ideas on these needs, and how? Although at first I think the book seems plain and straight forward with stories about Carnegie's libraries, I finally think it implies so many concepts that bring out the big picture of American library and its history to me to think about.

I find this book “Free to All” is another very pleasant to read one. It allows me to explore through circumstances and evidences while adding to my knowledge many invaluable points on how the cycles in history illuminate concepts and their causes (why something exists or happens in a particular way) of reality, actions, and relationships among human subjects as well as processes of such action toward the aspects on social, cultures, and the professional. To me, the reading draws my thinking back to the idea of building as a venue for people with or without something in commons. They can choose to use it as a place to socialize with others or even socialize with information, or to become isolate in their private worlds. It is amazing to see many controversial transactions occur inside the frame of architecture and building that planned to serve as provider and controller at the same time. Also, the issue that Carnegie’s libraries have similar patterns or floor plans make me wonder if this is a way to introduce the profession that the service should flow within this particular design. I am wondering how much and to what extent do the impacts of the design have on the library transactions, task orientations, users understanding of the service and their perception of the global picture of the library structure, and etc.

The quote that reads “we must look at all buildings as evidence of social processes in which a variety of attitudes are negotiated in specific social and cultural settings” (p.xxi) is very provocative to me and unburdens my thinking. I am wondering how this uniqueness in Carnegie’s libraries reflected to or was reflected by American libraries in the following decades. Is there a similar trend imprinting the roles of Carnegie’s libraries in other parts of the world?

One more comment

Doesn't the early part of Van Slyck's book talk about the female librarian being "tethered" to the desk, tying her down from her ambition? Yet, later in the book and history, the female librarian was no longer considered "tethered" to the desk, but became a strong and imposing figure. It's all a matter of perception.


I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. Although, I would agree that the last two chapters did seem tacked-on. However, the thread which I most picked up on (and wrote about in my paper) was the design control struggle between architects and librarians when it came to architecture. Van Slyck revisits this throughout in the context of the two camps struggling for professional status. I hadn't really thought of architects and the history of that profession as struggling for recognition of their profession.

Another reaction that I had is the Gladden campaign against Carnegie and the theme of "tainted money” was begun/perpetuated by the Church. Although, I would agree that Gladden’s claim of money that was obtained through illegal or unethical means (20) . . . it is not surprising that this would come from the church who’s own power and position within the community would be threatened. It would be interesting to see how often this occurred in cities and towns where the predominate public fixture would have been the church, which we could [assume] had some conflict as the population's morality and social control were thought to be in the church's province. The theme was alluded to . . . but I'm sure there is much more to discover on the theme of secular vs religious influence/control.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

çonflict and control in the Carnegie library

I found the interplay of control and conflict to be an interesting theme in this book. I think Van Slyke is on to something here. She discusses the notion of the Carnegie library as a mechanism for efficient distribution of books, an idea that appealed both to Carnegie and to librarians who saw their role as akin to factory managers. . But all those pesky immigrant children persisted in seeing the library in their own way, and the librarian as some generic "teacher".

As with the Garrison book, I feel a little too personally close to some of this for totally dispassionate critique. My first job in a library was as the lowliest staff member in a Carnegie-library branch of the Cleveland public library, presided over by a stern factory-manager librarian, where immigrant children were sent to wash their hands before they could touch the books. This really did happen within living memory, folks! And this was not all that long ago.

And the Union City Indiana public library, which also features in VanSlyke's book, was my first library experience. One of my earliest memories is of being really afraid of the librarian who presided high up at the huge central desk in the Union City library. At least it seemed huge to a four year old. I remember fondly walking to the library with my grandfather and then walking home with him and his reading the books to me. But the in-between part, going into the library, was pretty scary. I remember feeling glad that my grandpa was there to protect me in the library. He was "somebody"in Union City, as the retired manager of the Western Union telegraph office, so he was on good terms with the town elite. (I didn't understand this part back then.) And he always took off his hat and spoke politely to the librarian, and she seemed to like that. So I just stuck close to him while we picked out books and I tried to pretend that the librarian wasn't there. We had to go to the library pretty often too, since you were only allowed to take out three books at a time.

So, there are some childhood (and young-adulthood) recollections to round off the last two chapters of Van Slyke. And with hindsight, I see that without Carnegie's philanthropy, a tiny place like Union City could probably not have supported a library at all...

Thoughts & Discussion for Friday on Free to All

I agree with you, Irene, that the last two chapters do not seem to be historically rich as the rest of the book. I was disappointed the book was not enriched by first person accounts relating their library experiences (especially in terms of immigrant children) - though I recognize Van Slyck says there are not enough records about this.

I found it interesting, both Apostles of Culture and Free to All discuss feminization of librarianship and library efficiency. Van Slyck mentions Bertam's emphasis on reducing "elaborate architectual expression" which led to smaller appropriations given to the Carnegie libraries which in turn resulted in "substantially smaller annual maintenance funds." Further, she adds that "library boards were more included to hire lower-paid females for library work." Here, female librarianship is considered a convenience. In Apostles, we read about female librarians as genteel hostesses. How do we reconcile (if that is the case) these views of the feminization of librarianship?

Van Slyck also elaborates on the role of a centrally located charging desk playing a major part in library efficiency and its perception within the library, especially when it was no longer considered a barrier to books. My first thought was whether this "ideal" was carried out today. We now have information desks, reference desks, and circulation desks, so instead of one point of contact, we generally have two. Other libraries have even implemented a triage system. I would be interested to hear other's reactions to Van Slyck's emphasis on the role of the charging desk and how/why it evolved into several service points in the library.

Unlike Apostles, which discusses the East, Van Slyck mentions how in the West, it was "more common for middle -class women to take responsibility for establishing town libraries. Western women were so active in establishing and administering libraries for their towns that in 1933 the American Library Association credited women's clubs with initiating 75 percent of the public libraries then in existence." One question I thought I would throw out into the open is what were the club women's responses to Carnegie libraries (for instance, we read the club women tended to take on the siting strategies of local churches to in order for readers to pursue more wholesome activities)?

Free to All comment

I was wondering if Van Slyck could have left out the last two chapters of the "Free to All" book. I had the feeling that those two chapters were added to make the work a book-length work. Granted, the author states that those chapters will be shorter, due to the lack of historical evidence, and she likely wanted to include more on the larger historical context, yet somehow, those last two chapers did not seem as "rich" as the rest of the book? What do others think?


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A possible Citation for Kate


While browsing Journal of Education for Library and Information Studies, I came across the following article:

"Locating Information Science: Changes in Ph.D. Dissertations During the Past Three Decades" by Woo-seob Jeong. Volume 42, Number 4, Fall 2001. Pages 308 - 324.

Where is Plessy v. Ferguson in Du Mont's article?

In class discussion on Friday we did not get around to talking about Du Mont's article "Race in American Librarianship: Attitudes of the Library Profession". My biggest problem with the article is its failure to talk about Plessy v. Ferguson (the 1896 US Supreme Court case that established the concept of separate but equal, for more information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plessy_v._Ferguson). Only once on page 498 is there a passing reference when Du Mont says "Librarians as a whole, northern as well as southern, tended to avoid the issue of integration even after the legal reversal of the 'separate but equal' doctrine in 1954 brought the whole question into national prominence." So why is Plessy v. Ferguson missing from the article? What utility would Plessy v. Ferguson bring to the article?

I do not know the answer to the first question. When Du Mont says, "in 1940 Gleason had reported that out of 774 public library units in the thirteen states of the South, only 99 provided any service to blacks" (498) I dismayed by the lack of library services available to blacks in the South. If Du Mont had included Plessy v Ferguson this would show that the American Library Association could have mounted a legal challenge to remedy the unequal library service to blacks in the South based on the doctrine of "separate but equal" but choose not to challenge the status quo.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Follow up to today's Katrina/library efforts discussion

Middletown Thrall Library Special Coverage:
Hurricane Katrina Information Guide
This guide provides links to other websites on the Internet about Hurricane Katrina.


This is so well put together . . . It has made my exhausting day end on a high. Sure, there is a TON of information on Katrina relief efforts - but leave it to a small library to:

  1. refine and put out all of these great resources in a very concise and coherent list
  2. have the knowledge of HTML markup and search/retrieval/hits to make sure this comes up quickly in a google search
  3. Not to mention that this is a small town library in upstate New York.

I love it.

Citation Sharing

If anyone is interested, I left in my mailbox (117) a copy each of the syllabus from 569 when I took it and the supplementary reading lists. Feel free to photocopy them.

Links about preservation

Here are the links to the articles I brought up about preservation from the Sydney Morning Herald.

The digital Dark Age.
Lessons of the Domesday project.
For safekeeping, go with 4000 years of the tried and true.

Fun Van Slyck Article

An article by Abigail Van Slyck that I really enjoy is "The Lady and the Library Loafer: Gender and Public Space in Victorian America." It is published in Winterthur Portfolio, Vol 31 (winter 1996) on pages 221 - 241.

Project Proposal

My project will center around Ph.D. programs in library and information science. Mostly, I am concerned with how these programs developed over time. I think I will focus from the time period of the 1940s to current trends of today, but that may be too broad. Especially interesting to research may be what courses directors and faculty considered essential to doctoral studies. Also, I would like to investigate why students chose to enter into doctoral studies. One document I plan to use is a Ph.D. program proposal by the University of Maryland. I also have a few source materials from the 40s-50s.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Project proposal

The public library and the homeless between 1980’s and 1990’s

The American Library Association’s manual 61, ‘Library Services for Poor People,’ in 1990, codified the recognition of possible information inequity of the poor people and the importance of the public library service for them. The manual promised that the public libraries would help the poor to be responsible citizen in a democratic society, through their resources and services.

However, the Kreimer case against the Morristown public library in 1992 showed that some public library regulations, such as prohibiting library entrance of problematic patrons with bare feet or odor, blocked extremely poor people to the public libraries in practice. As the possibly far marginalized people, the homeless obviously belong to their community but their community may easily ignore the extreme poor.

According to the general notion of the public library mission, the homeless people technically deserve using the public library. However, the homeless people should follow social or institutional behavior codes, such as cloths, first, in order to use the public library and also accept the primary mission of the public library, ‘using information’. Personally, I think that it is not easy for the homeless people to follow the social or institutional behavior codes because they do not have any place to do. Furthermore, the information need that is assumed as the primary reason for the public library cannot be the primary for the homeless people. It may be secondary but not the primary. Obviously, they need certain places and the public library can be one of the places. What had the public library’s reaction been to the homeless people? This question is related to the public library’s understanding of their community.

In this study, I select two decades, 1980's and 1990's. The 1980’s was the time when the population of the homeless was increased and the U.S. government and academia, such as sociology and social work, recognized the importance of social issues on the homeless. The situation brought the public library’s attention to the homeless people in the 1980’s. In 1990’s, like the above two cases, the library fields had some important institutional experiences, such as the ALS manual 61 (Library Services for Poor People) in 1990, the Kreimer case in 1992, and establishing Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force, under Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association in 1996.

In this time period, this study will investigate the following questions in a certain area which is not decided yet but it can be a big city around Madison, Wisconsin. Also, I write possible primary resources for individual questions:
1. What had the public library understood the homeless as?
: Library organization or public library’s documents, such as mission statements or defining their patrons as well as scholarly research journals on the issue
2. What had the public library done for the homeless?
: Public library’s services for the homeless people and their regulations for their patrons as well as scholarly research journals on the issue.
3. What had the homeless used the public library for?
: Newspapers and scholarly research journals on the issue
4. What had the rest of community thought of the homeless in the public library?
: Newspapers and scholarly research journals on the issue.

Some thoughts from 09/23 readings: fundamental of theory development?

First, I thought that the readings offer illustrations and concepts of acts and community issues such as “change and continuity”, “community cohesive”, and even “deliberation” that exist concurrently with the development, changes, and continuity in the history. Then, in the overall concept, I perceived a clearer vision of theory and its approaches. Starting with Hay’s article, I found it is persuasive and exciting to read, after some undeniable difficulties in getting into details. It is fascinating to see ideas on theory development inlaid in the content. Especially, the paragraph discussing “modernizing theory” on page 36 brings concepts to my thinking that a theory development process involves essential elements which are observation, identification, representation, and later on in the article, reflection, and distinction. It is very useful to me to be introduced to the elements and characteristics for theory and its development and approaches. Even toward the end, I am wondering if anybody finds the suggestions useful for our project. I found it illustrates ideas and creates a mental model on “how” to bring problems of changes and continuity more into historical study. To what extent do you think the concept of theory and its construction or development important to us in developing study toward library history?

Then, in Woodford and Du Mont, the cases in the readings definitely provide ideas on representation – especially the library’s representation of a community. Breakthroughs in history marked patterns of changes and continuity, and even to me, as an outsider of American society, the stories seem pleasant and comprehensible.

Williams’ confirms and provides more knowledge on the definition of theory and its approaches through presenting meaningful theories related to social system and library. To me, I found the last article, Harris & Hannah, fulfilling the question “why”. Although, they signified importance of the definition, culture, and power of library as essential issues in library history, I found their idea toward “reality”, as for my understanding, is another key factor for us to study in the concept of “why”.

The major impression and inspiration from the reading is the knowledge of theory development and how researchers disseminate and interpret what, when, why, and how toward the existence of social process, changes, and continuity as well as distinct different uniqueness in different concepts, process, settings, time frames, and so on. This is personally very useful to me.

As I have often wondered about the marginalization of genealogy and library services to genealogists, I applauded Hays' mention of the need of examining change through intergenerational patterns, including Hay's comment: "Hence my long-standing plea to bring genealogy into history, as both a teaching and a research device." (p. 44).

I do question Woodford's repeated assumptions without pesenting evidence (or presenting little evidence) to support his claims. Some of our earlier readings contradict what Woodford claims.
I also noticed that Woordord wrote this article in 1966, during the turbulent 60s, yet he still holds firm to some of the conservative ideas of the early library leaders and scholars (though its seems library historians didn't start revising earlier theories until the 1970s).

Below are some of Woodford's statements that made me yell, "ARGH!"

"No structure of a public type more closely touches and effects the lives of the people, or exerts a more profound influence on the characteer of its community than does the public library" (p. 34).

"The original library as an implement of education was chiefly intended to meet the needs of the primary level.... Popular and universal education begins iwth the library, pjrincipally the public library. The ability and the desire to read does not begin in the classroom. It starts with the book, and the book is the library.... they can reach their fullest development only where the books are." (p. 35).

"the library contributed to the development and grouth of the automotive industry. It provided at least, the place where ideas were born.... as a new breed of millionaires came on the local stage, it is understandable that cultural horizons expanded, and the library's departments ddevoted to the arts--music and drama, literature and the fine arts, rare books --came into being." (p. 36).

"One can only speculate about what dind of men wrote tat clause, who had the foresight to see the need and devise the means of support for public libraries. They were frontiersmen, farmers, country lawyers, small merchants." (p. 37).

"It might also be pointed out that no one benefits more from public librareis than the worker and his children." (p. 41).


Some thoughts on Hays

I also found Hays' idea of change and continuity very insightful and intriguing although I am not familiar with the state of historical research. He also points out many useful directions and perspectives for scholars to do historical studies. However, I feel that something is missed in his article. It would even more interesting if he could have pointed out the best ways to combine the studies on the "given moments" with the changing and continuing course of history because such studies provide rich resources for studying the changes and continuity over time, and only when we understand the "given moments" can we analyze the differences between the "given moments", namely, changes.

Another thing is about the "breakpoints" and "periodizing". If I understand him correctly, he suggests that a breakpoint for a certain phenomenon does not necessarily a good one for others. So how one periodize the history should depend on one's subject, perspective and emphasis. Is that correct? He suggests we redefine the periods of history to emphasize the change and continuity, and the first step is to study a "given phenomenon". I am thinking, even in one single discipline, in a given period of time, we have so many options as to the topics or phenomena. Depending on one's perspective, one can choose whichever phenomenon as the starting point to redefine the periods and find out a set of breakpoints in that particular phenomenon. Wouldn’t it be confusing sometimes? If we all use different sets of breakpoints and periodize the history in different ways, how can we get the general and holistic picture of the history? Or did I somewhat misunderstand his suggestion?

Authors sue Google

I found an article about Google being sued by authors over the Google Print Library program. Follow this link to the article Writing on the wall as Google fights to build digital library. I do not exactly know how this fits into our dicussion of libraries and communities but I thought it was note worthy.

Paper Proposal: A First Pass.

Sorry for the all the posts on the same topic below. I think that the Wireless Network came in and out right when I was sending.

For my paper proposal I think that I would like to further explore the history of censorship in public libraries and the impact on “library community.” Although I have not narrowed the specific time frame for this, I would likely be focusing on the past twenty years with a focus on the Internet and government regulation/filtering in libraries. How has filtering of Internet content affected the sense of community in public libraries? Many are very torn between protecting children from harmful materials and the right to free and open speech. Obviously, this has had an impact on funding – but more importantly – how the “library” perception has changed due to increased government regulation and adoption of filtering software. Much of this debate can be researched looking at official publications, proceedings, speeches etc . . from the American Library Association. Also, several recent Supreme Court cases between the United States and the American Library Association would be key to any historical writing on this topic.

Follow up to my early post

How would Frank Woodford's approach to writing in "Second Thoughts" be logically and meaningfully altered if we were to run it through what Hays proposes? I've tried (in my head) to apply this to something simple like the example of the Ford Motor Company / Henry Ford example and I feel like I'm grasping.

Follow up to my early post

How would Frank Woodford's approach to writing in "Second Thoughts" be logically and meaningfully altered if we were to run it through what Hays proposes? I've tried (in my head) to apply this to something simple like the example of the Ford Motor Company / Henry Ford example and I feel like I'm grasping.

Follow up to my early post

Here is a case in point: How would Frank Woodford's approach to writing in "Second Thoughts" be logically and meaningfully altered if we were to run it through what Hays proposses? I've tried (in my head) to apply this to something simple like the example of the Ford Motor Company / Henry Ford example and I feel like I'm grasping. Sure, one could interject examples of patterns of continuity during this time in Detroit.

Hays or hazy?

I have just re-read the Hays article and I’m struggling a bit. Similar to Bridget’s reaction, I thought the idea of looking at history while keeping in mind both continuity and change was helpful. I have often felt that many historical writings have focused to much on the change or event and have not examined specific aspects or “components” of continuity. What hasn't changed is just as important to discuss when considering historical contexts. I think that what may be helpful . .. If I had time . . . is to look for an article which adopts Hay's formula in terms of practice. Would be good to read a subsequent article that adheres to these methods as stated on page 53. Maybe Hays (or others) has followed this up with his own examination of history (events) based on his suggestions?

Awa's Proposal

E-resources Licensing and the Academic Library's User Community

From mid 1990's, "licensing" was widely adopted by information vendors as the marketing strategy to sell the electronic information products to libraries. When libraries negotiate with vendors on licensing agreements, how to define "authorized users" of the target e-resources is an issue that both parties have to consider because it is directly related to pricing methods, technical requirements, copyright issues, and so on. Some licenses define users as students, faculty, researchers, and staff of institutions, some include walk-in users of the institutions' library facilities as well, some also permit remote access by authorized users, and include students in distance education programs.

My purpose is to, by studying how academic libraries (or academic library consortia) define their "authorized users" and negotiate this issue with vendors, find out how libraries (or library consortia) define the community that they are serving, and find out whether there are some changes in the way that libraries look at their user community. For now I will narrow this topic down to one library or one library system, say memorial library or UW library system since it is not possible for me to investigate a larger scope in one semester. The specific questions that I will try to answer include:

1. How did/does the library see itself and its user community when defining "authorized users"?
2. If there were/are different versions (in time or for different e-resources) of "authorized users", why? Based on what assumptions and expectations did/does the library make such different policies?
3. If there was/is difficulty balancing the needs of the user community and its own limitation (e.g., financial restriction and technical limitation), how did/does the library deal with the situation?

The primary sources would be the licensing agreements that this library signed throughout the years, the licensing guidelines that they adopted, conference presentations and journal papers of the librarians in this library on related issues, and personal interviews of librarians concerned.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Project Proposal: The Thordarson Collection and the University Community

For my research project, I am going to examine the relationship between the Thordarson Collection and to the larger university community at UW-Madison. The Thordarson Collection contains about 11,000 volumes and is particularly strong in English scientific literature. In 1946, the University Library purchased the collection for $300,000—the collection was estimated to be worth $3,000,000. About the time the Library purchased the Thordarson Collection, the University re-activated the History of Science department. I wonder if those supporting the purchase of the collection considered the History of Science department as a community that would benefit from the purchase of the collection. I seek answers to two specific questions.

Question 1: For which campus communities did the university library purchase the Thordarson Collection?
Question 2: How has the Thordarson Collection benefited the History of Science program at UW-Madison?

To answer Question 1 I will need to find correspondence, meeting minutes, and other records that discuss purchasing the collection. I will visit the University Archives tomorrow to see what records I will be able to examine. The History of Science department also has various files about the department that might talk about purchasing the collection. There are articles that were published about the collection purchase in The Daily Cardinal and the U. W. Library News.

To answer Question 2 I will need a list of the volumes in the Thordarson collection and then will compare sources cited in the PhD dissertation in History of Science to see if they used the collection. I should be able to obtain a list of the volumes in the Thordarson collection. A list of the PhD dissertation in History of Science should be available from the History of Science department. From the list of dissertations, I will need to probably decide on a subset to compare their sources with items within the Thordarson collection. In addition to the sources directly related to my questions, I hope to talk with the former History of Science departmental bibliographer about the Thordarson collection and its role in the Department.

Project Proposal: Hmong in Wisconsin

I am interested in Hmong in Wisconsin. The ideas of this project is an exploration of materials on Hmong and a search for correlation between numbers of Hmong immigrants and numbers of the materials in UW-Madison’s Library collection. Sources for the project include librarians at UW-system campuses, the Historical Society, experts/researchers on Hmong, and materials on UW-system libraries. The project is aimed at answering the following questions:

Question 1: What is the growing number and geographic distribution of Hmong and their communities in Madison and vicinity (or Wisconsin)?

Question 2: What is the pattern of the development Hmong collection in UW-Madison’s Libraries? What appear as top subjects of materials on Hmong? What are the roles of the collection in serving the academic society? Is it related to or used as means to “Americanization” or “Social Control”?

Question 3: How was the first concern on Hmong materials arisen in collection development and acquisition?

Question 4: To what extents have studies on Hmong’s history in Wisconsin been conducted and disseminated to whether both American and Hmong communities?

The findings will not only answer the questions, but also provide information and perspectives on the issues of diversity and movements of new ethnic groups, such as the Hmong, and their impacts on the history of library development especially the collections and services.

project proposal

I'm thinking about the German Book Exhibit held in Chicago in 1925 as my project topic. This exhibit was organized by Theodore Wesley Koch, at the time the librarian of Northwestern University. The exhibit was brought together fairly quickly and was promoted as the first exhibit of German books since the war. A similar (or maybe the same) exhibit was held somewhat later at Columbia University. A list of the books was published, and information about the exhibit appeared in the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times, as well as in library periodicals.

The idea of a book collection as a kind of ambassador for the acceptance of German history and culture back into the mainstream community intrigues me. If I can I'd like to find additional information about censorship or withdrawal of German materials from libraries during World War I so as to place the exhibit in a bigger context. The list of books themselves also is interesting: since the materials were selected in cooperation with the German Bookseller's association, do they tell us something what seemed appropriate for this kind of display? What kind of aspirations might have been part of creation of this exhibit?

I have looked at Library Literature, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times for sources from the time, along with the booklet of "notes" and bibliography from the exhibits organizer, Theodore Wesley Koch. The Milwaukee Public Library has the only set I can find in the Midwest of the journal of the German booksellers association from these years so I'm hoping to go there and see if there is anything there I can use. I'm also going to try to get to the ALA Archives in Champaign- Urbana, since I'm going there anyhow in October, to see if there is useful information there.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More thoughts for Friday

More thoughts for Friday

....woops, sorry. I lost my connection.

3. Williams too suggests that the library needs to be considered as having an impact on a social system, though he uses a social-science model to make his point, urging that historians need to pay more attention to theory and predictability. Do you agree that a theory is defined a a systematic statement of the relationship between variables? He offers theories that historians have presented so far, such as "democratic tradition"and ""social control"and offers critiques of these theories. How do you think that the history we have read so far fit s into this suggested approach to history? Is this a useful approach to history? What can we gain if we take this approach to looking at the past?

4. DuMont presents an agenda for analysis of race as a factor in the library profession, after discussion of some of the outlines of this history and some of the questions raised. She presents several themes and suggests that scholarship of the South needs to be related to the history of public library services to Southern blacks. What do you think of her suggested agenda in the larger context of the library and minority or disadvantaged populations?

Those are some of the questions I had as I prepared for our discussion on Friday--I think our readings this week presented us with a lot to consider...

Thoughts for discussion on Friday

Our articles for this week have presented us with several different themes:

1. Hayes emphasizes continuity and change over time, and suggests a need to break out of standard periodization. How does a differing concept of periodization affect historical questions? He suggests that historical inquiry needs to be organized around new break points. How might a focus on "community"interact with a more fluid concept of relevant time periods? And, am I the only one who is somewhat concerned that the notion of continuity and change might lead to false assumptions -- for instance that past actions/activities might too easily be seen as simply forerunners to now, or that we might consciously or unconsciously fall into thinking of the past as simply the march of progress until now?

2. Woodford focuses on the importance of recognizing institutions -- specifically the library as an institution. He emphasizes the library's relationship to education and to the book. He discusses the library as both actor and acted-upon in the development of the city, and gives examples of the interrelationship of economics and politics in development and role of the library. He takes as a given the idea that the library has a profound impact in the lives of people. I couldn't help but think of the tremendous changes that have occured in Detroit since this article, and the book it refers to, were written -- social,economic, cultural, physical. I wonder if today's institutional history of the Detroit Public Library might have a different emphasis?

makes sense

I love the section in Woodford's article about Ford's Motor Company. This is how I see the public library -- you want to know about something, you go to the library and get information on it. It's so straightforward and I feel like librarians want to make the library more than that -- a community center for example. Which is fine, but I like seeing an example of the library used in its most rudimentary way too.

Hays article

The Hays article makes history sound slippery and hard to hold on to -- I thought the idea of looking at history while keeping in mind both continuity and change was helpful. Especially as I'm thinking about the research paper right now and it's hard to tie down a "time period" with hard edges on both sides that I can fit what I'm looking at into. This was hard to do and the way that I chose to do it was to pick the date when the journal began because something significant must have pushed the journal into being and ended the period that I looked at it when they had financial troubles because of the earthquake (I got this from reading issue 16, also Ginny stopped getting the journal then so I'm assuming there is some sort of a gap before it started up again). Also, three years seemed like enough time to really look at something, but not so much time that the issues changed too much from beginning to end.


I'm going to look at Booklegger magazine issues 1-16 from 1973 to 1976. This is a counter culture librarian magazine published in California. I'm going to focus in on the youth services articles, using the ALA Youth Services division journal and meeting information as mainstream comparisons. CCBC also has newsletters that include the workshops that they were offering for youth librarians at this time that might be interesting to look at. So far one of the most interesting things that has jumped out at me is the intellectual freedom issue. The librarians seem to be having a difficult time both supporting intellectual freedom and bashing sexist books.

Monday, September 19, 2005

My Paper Prososal

In the 1990s, to meet the growing need of information and communication among librarians serving Genealogists, a loosely organized group of professional librarians across the United States formed the "Librarians Serving Genealogists" professional group, with a corresponding website and listserv.

I wish to examine the archived posts to this listserv from its inception until the present, in order to examine the role of this listserv in establishing and promoting Community among these librarians, both geographically and over time. As it is early in the Semester, I do not know yet what I approach I will use in this research, but I look forward to this project.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

My Proposal ;-)

During the early half of the twentieth century, the Americanization Movement worked to assimilate new immigrants. Complicit in the propagation of this movement was the American Library Association and, consequently, American public libraries. Specifically, during the years immediately preceding, during, and after World War I, libraries engaged in the dissemination and production of materials and initiated programs intended to help assimilate the “foreign born,” while renewing the patriotism of citizens within communities (Wiegand 1989, Jones 1999). During this period, libraries (coordinating with the U. S. government) operated as, borrowing from Bordieu, institutions imparting “Symbolic Capital” to immigrant populations, using literacy as an “instrument of domination” (1991).

To assess the role of libraries during the Americanization Movement, we must address the following questions: How did libraries across the U. S. enact assimilation programs? How and what did libraries communicate with one another, the American Library Association, and the U. S. government? And perhaps most importantly, when libraries asserted this role as educators of immigrants, where did communities meet? Where were “contact zones” located, and how did these communities (immigrants, libraries, government) “grapple with each other” (Pratt 1991).

Using Brandt’s approach of identifying and analyzing “sponsors of literacy” (1998), this paper analyzes the ways in which essays in professional library journals such as Library Journal created community among librarians engaged in Americanization projects. In particular, I focus on essays written by practicing librarians which describe Americanization programs, explain the ways in which these programs might be replicated elsewhere, and encourage their fellow librarians to ‘take up’ with this national project. In addition, I analyze statements addressed to librarians from the U. S. Committee on Public Information (established by executive order in April of 1917 with the intention of selling the war to the American public) and documents published and distributed by the American Library Association’s Library War Council. Through these materials, I examine the ways in which libraries operated as hegemonic tools to assimilate new immigrants using literacy programs, and the resistance to and acceptance of such programs as described in these publications.

Friday, September 16, 2005

the fiction issue

The Horn Book Magazine had an article this month that ties into what we were talking about this morning with the fiction issue. It's called The Curious Incident of the BBC Radio Show by Madelyn Travis. Apparently, there was a whole panel of people on BBC talking about the dumbing down of society. The pointed to the prevelance of adults reading children's book (esp. Harry Potter) as a sign of this but also blamed reading children's books as the cause of society being dumbed down. The people on the show felt that children's books shouldn't be read by anyone including children because they should be reading classics. It isn't posted online yet, just in the hard copy of the magazine.

Boys & Reading in 1918

For those interested in children's reading and gender, I just found the article "The School and the Boy's Books and Reading" in the January 1918 The Wilson Bulletin. (vol. 1, iss. 12)

In many ways, this could have been written today!

Blogs and Community

There is an article in Kairos, an online journal focusing on rhetoric and technology, about blogs as places. The link to the table of contents is here: http://english.ttu.edu/kairos/10.1/

Actually, the whole issue looks great.


more Dewey

I appreciate Barbara's comments. I hadn't thought about this being one of the first looks at Dewey's life -- it makes more sense if he's looked at as another myth to explode, as Garrison is doing with class and gender. However, I still think that the depth and breadth that Garrison gives him should have been in a stand alone work and not in this particular work. It's a whole biography in the middle of a book claiming to be about the public librarian and American society.


Random Thoughts

p. 60: "If the library profession stood slightly in advance of the educational bureacracy in its support of reform, it was chiefly because the library, unlike the school, was relatively untrammelled by tradition, was peculiarly sensitive to popular opinion, and was freer to evolve as conditions warranted." I had trouble with the "untrammelled by tradition" part; was not the issue of clinging to tradition one of the main points of some of her arguments?

p. 140: It's it interesting the it was Dewey himself who, while at Albany, "reduced the already meager clerical salaries by 25 percent, and hired more employees with the savings." Did he start a trend (no, salaries already were low), but perhaps it was Dewey's influence over the professions that contributed to the continuing problems of low wages and troubles with professionalism.

I would like very much to read the book on librarianship in the West (I forget the title). I am so tired of reading about New England. As a History major in college, the whole history of the United States always seemed to be taught from the New England experience.

Garrison makes generalized statements about the present, but offers no sources or supporting arguments; for example: p. 194: Beccause sexist attitudes still prevail in this society..."

pp. 89-90: "the increasing predominance of women had the effect of causing the library to become more and more demand-oriended, since most librarians did not feel strang enough either as individuals, or as professionals, to assert themselves in the face of public demands."
Is this a claim without supporting evidence?
Also, p. 92: "Although their subservience to thier clientele's wishes was strengthen by the feminization of librarianship, their passivity was also a result of the library's peculiar position as a tax-suppoted institution."
Something just doesn't seem right here.

p. 215: "the Jewish youngsters, whose cultural heritage prepared them to cherish books and learning." Isn't this a stereotype, without sources to back up her claim?

How much authority does Garrison have to analyze and draw conclusions on Dewy's psychological make-up?

Isn't it interesting that intellectualism became equated with stagnation, which was equated with the old order?

p. 185: Professional women stressed the social value of their work. They rarely described thier right to work as an individual need for human expression and happiness."
Did Garrison do a thorought check of primary sources to back up this claim?

Language: I found it troubling the way Garrison always used the term "spinster" with its negative connotations. Am I being overly PC?


melvil dewey's childhood

I enjoyed reading Garrison's book again. It seems that it is itself a historical document now. So much of what she said was new and disquieting at the time, and just taken for granted now. The section on Dewey, for instance. Before Garrison, nobody in the library world ever talked about Dewey as anything other than the god-like creator of the revered classification system. Sandy Berman's iconoclasm with Library of Congress Subject Headings, for instance, was still in the future. To learn that Dewey was driven, eccentric, and anti-Semitic was to realize that one had been uncritically accepting of things that needed rethinking. Does Dewey's character and personality, and the tenor of his times, influence his creation? That's the interesting question for me.

Likewise, the notion that womens' inequality is rooted in the foundations of the library profession provided women librarians at the time (the 1970's-1980's)with ways of focusing on what had before that been somewhat incoherent realizations that the structure and dynamic of work in their profession were flawed. A feminist analysis of librarians was a new idea then, and energizing. It opened the door I think, for other uncomfortable considerations: why were librarians complicit in racial segregation, for instance? did any rebel? what sorts of things are librarians complicit in now? It opened the door to a lot of thinking about social issues that hadn't had much consideration before. A history of the feminist movement of the 1970's and how it played out in libraries has yet to be written, as far as I know, and Garrison's book would be a primary source for it.

But, in retuning to this book now, I question Garrison's reliance solely on a few individuals as carriers of an argument that is much broader. I question her somewhat uncritical reliance on the records and discussions of the ALA, at the time a small organization mainly composed of chiefs and administrators. I wish she had looked for other kinds of indicators. But, truly, I am finding it hard to be so very critical of a book that was for me and others a kind of watershed in how we thought about what we were doing and why we were doing it. So much that is just accepted now was new and controversial then, and Garrison's book and its reception and the controversy it contributed to in the library world if not in the world of history are part of the recent past that forms the basis for things that are just taken for granted now.


Thursday, September 15, 2005


What about the overuse of Dewey? Jacob mentions the critique of Garrison only using 8 women librarians but what about chapter after chapter about one library leader? He may have been influential but I felt that the points that Garrison was trying to make got lost in the excrutiating detail of Melvil Dewey's life. I could have done without learning about his troubled childhood (among other things).

Possibly people have other ideas and can enlighten me on why this is an effective way to support her argument?

On the supporting of Garrison's sources side, she did use letters and diaries (to bore me to death about Dewey, but still) as well as newspaper clippings and journals. The specific examples that Jacob gave aside, she seemed to me to use a wide range of pertinant sources.


Good discussion points Jacob

Jacob has started us out with some good discussion points. I would like to respond briefly and then engage more fully in the class discussion.

Sources of Evidence: Jacob writes: Is Library Journal the best source to demonstrate the “popular concept” of a librarian? If Library Journal is a good source what makes this the case? If not, what other source would be more convincing?"

While I do think that Library Journal does provide insight as to the popular view of the times I do not think that it should be used as the ONLY reference.

One can discern a lot (even from a journal reporting about its own community of practice). It would be great to compare and contrast this with other sources such as newspapers of the day or any personal correspondence.

East and West:

[My assumption is] There had to be a significant divergence in opinion the further one moved away from the New England library establishment. Obviously there would be many motivational differences / influences between established cultural centers such as Boston and frontier towns of the West.


I had a difficult time with the passage on 21. I am uncomfortable with the "one can safely assume" quote. This is not trivial . . . I think that the early examination of the "5 spinsters" creates the groundwork for much of the remaining chapters. I would have liked to have seen this substantiated in some way . . . even just a simple follow-up quote from a personal account or biography of any of the original five.

women and wages

So, I was looking briefly at Passet's Cultural Crusaders and she cites correspondence from women librarians (early 1900s) complaining about low wages. Doesn't Garrison claim that the poor passive dears didn't fret or complain about wages?

Food for thought on "Apostles of Culture"

Christine Pawley’s introduction attempts to situate “Apostles of Culture” within the environment it developed, provide the reactions of critics, and impact the books has had on Library and Information Studies. As I now finish the book I am left wondering if I should have read the introduction before or after I read the book in its entirety. I read the introduction first and wonder how much it has influenced the areas I will focus on for further discussion. As a place to start discussion I now turn to three areas of concern to me.

Sources and Evidence
Pawley outlines two criticisms of “Apostles of Culture” as generalizing from a sample of only eight women and the overuse of library leader ideas as expressed in library literature (xxii). The criticisms outlined by Pawley led me to think about issues related to evidence and sources utilized by Garrison. First there is the issue of citation omissions. On page 145 the third paragraph has what appears to be a direct quotation from Dewey that is not linked to a citation. In another case Garrison says “As late as 1893 children under the age of twelve were barred from almost half the large public libraries in the nation” (p.207) but does not cite a source. On page 224 Garrison provides many library statistics but does not cite them to a specific location in a source. Do these omissions indicate a larger problem in Garrison’s ability to cite sources or are they insignificant and should be ignored? Another related evidence and source criticism focuses on the use of sources.

Following on the critics Pawley cites about the use of library literature, as a major source is the case on page 194 where Garrison discusses the popular view of librarians in 1860 and 1900. These popular views are interesting in themselves but following the notes one finds that both of the descriptions of librarians come from various articles published in Library Journal. Is Library Journal the best source to demonstrate the “popular concept” of a librarian? If Library Journal is a good source what makes this the case? If not, what other source would be more convincing?

East and West
Statistics about the number libraries appear thought the book provide insights into the development of libraries over time and seems to suggest that many of the early libraries appeared on the East Coast. There seems to be a possible issue of difference between library development in the East and the West of the United States. Garrison points out “Less predictable, however is the degree of dominance New Englanders enjoyed in the highest levels of library leadership. Sixth-four per cent of the selected library leaders of 1885 were of New England birth, 34 percent from Massachusetts alone” (p.17). Does this suggest a possible problem of bias in the selected librarians reviewed or could it be argued that the library leaders selected comprised a representative sample?

In other parts of the book Garrison says, “The shift from the genteel East to a more democratic West was symbolized in another way in 1895, for the annual conference was held in Dana’s home city of Denver” (p.95); and “Dana found sympathetic listeners among those librarians who were farthest west from Boston” (p.96). Do these quotations seem to suggest a larger East and West difference that might have played a role in library development?

In the use of language Garrison at times uses clear and evocative language and in other places uses language in potentially troubling ways. Some examples include:
“One can safely assume …” (p.21).
“Windsor, along with Melvil Dewey at Columbia University, led a revolution in library practice that transformed the university library from a repository of knowledge to a workshop for scholars” (p. 25).
“During his [Charles Ammi Cutter] eight years at the Harvard Library he married a young library assistant, probably the first woman to be employed in the Harvard cataloging section, and quickly sired three children” (p.32).

Are their any judgments or criticisms we should draw from such examples? If so, what can we conclude?

Friday, September 09, 2005

One of the first things I do when I read an historical perspective such as Harris, is I try to put myself in the context of those such as Everett and Ticknor. When looking back I have a tendency to be over sympathetic to the events and overall context of the times. However, in the present and dealing with events of the day . . .I am just the opposite. I recieved my BA in History and have spent a great deal of time trying to resolve this in my own mind.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Before reading this article I had not heard of a case where a community rejected the construction of a Carnegie Library. The Javersak article exposes the problem of organizations that one might assume are an accurate proxy for community opinion can misjudge true community sentiment on a particular issue (in this case the establishment of a Carnegie Library). It seems to suggest that libraries to some degree need to reflect the will of the community that will pay for the construction and maintenance of library facilities otherwise the community will not support library referenda.

More on Harris

Each time I re-read the Harris article I am deeply bothered by the way Harris presents his arguments and especially his choice of sources. Harris seems to depend too much on secondary sources for his information and direct quotations instead of reading the original correspondence himself. This may be a reflection of the article appearing in Library Journal instead of a more scholarly research publication. Maybe the longer ERIC report uses different sources that this version but I am not convinced this would change how Harris argues his position. I do agree that we need to re-examine the foundation myth of American libraries but this article does not seem to go about the re-examination in a judicial fashion. Moreover, is the foundation of Boston public library representative of library development everywhere in the US? Harris seems to imply this is the case but he does not provide any evidence to support such an assumption.

differing approaches

I was very interested in the contrast of gendered,social-class and elitist-study approaches represented in the articles of Harris, Javersak, and what I've read so far of Garrison. To me this is what makes history so interesting. We look for explanation but sometimes our evidence lends itself to differing interpretations.

But I was somewhat surprised by Harris' rejoinder to Fain that a reason for the difference has in part to do with the fact that Harris is a librarian while Garrison is a historian - therefore one would be an ïnternalist"and the other an ëxternalist." It seems to me it is not about what one is, but about what one's historical question is and how one goes about answering it. It seems to me that one approach -- study of the library as an institution, and the other approach -- study of librarians as a professional group, are quite compatible. Political and social currents are part of both approaches. A gendered approach can be part of both, and so can a labor-history approach. They all have something to offer and I don't find any of them as incompatible as, evidently, they were once thought to be. Barbara


One concept expressed in Harris' article that fascinated me was his claim that Censorship, the very issue that many of today's libarians fights so hard to combat, was routinely practiced by early librarians, trying to give the "common man" the "best books" and help them become "Americanized, meaning just like them!


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Intro Bridget (and some early reactions to the readings)

Hello everyone. I’m Bridget. I just graduated from the Master’s program at UW-SLIS. I work at the CCBC and WPT. My main areas of interest are youth services and literature for young people. I’m interested in looking at how young people develop relationships with literature.

During my one week of doing readings for this class I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to go into historical research (but I’ll give it another week just in case). I found the readings fascinating, but I feel like historical research is like pulling a string out of a piece of cloth, focusing in on it, and drawing conclusions. But what about the rest of the string in the cloth? Your view is incomplete. I realize that it’s impossible to look at history in a holistic sort of way because there are too many things that influence each other and that you can never look at all of them at once, so this one string research is important, but this way of looking at the world drives me crazy.

Fain’s article criticizes Harris and Garrison for not having their arguments carefully enough framed. Harris agrees and goes on to focus his comments with an interpretive framework. But all he’s really doing is telling us just what string he pulled and why he pulled it. Right? What about the bigger picture?

So I guess my answer to KT’s question is that I don’t think that you can look at librarianship in a gender neutral way. I would say that gender influences the whole of librarianship – it’s one of the brighter strings in the cloth.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Theoretical Approaches

Harris, in his response to Fain, brings up the notion of interpretive frameworks, and the ways in which his and Garrison's differ. When I read this, it reminded me of Wiegand's use of Foucault's idea of 'discursive formations' in the essay from week one. (I told myself that I was going to avoid the "F" word in this class, but there it is). How might we use the works of theorists such as Foucault, Bordieu, Gramsci, Althusser, or whomever else we might think of, to approach library history?

Would such an approach be considered appropriate by those who seek "accountability"? Or would Williams' charts be more gladly received by the accountability police?

Is there room for both? How might such a project look?

Do LIS scholars prefer one mode over the other? This is jumping ahead, but when I read Bushman last year, I was annoyed early on in the text when he writes that people in LIS really don't read Foucault and Haberman, resulting in the need for him (Buschman) to tell us all why they are important/useful. Is this really the case? I was a little insulted because I have read multiple texts by both. However, in my other program it is expected that we know them and that we know them well. I know people who, for Halloween, have actually dressed up as Discipline and Punishment. So maybe we go a little overboard. What do you think?

Libraries and Their Intended Patrons

Harris and Javersak both bring into play notions of who libraries were intended for (and exactly who it was doing this intending) and how potential patrons viewed the library. Harris discusses the use of the public library as a mode of 'social control,' control that those belonging to the local power structure deemed necessary to maintain their ideas of what their community should be. Javersak mentions that one of the Labor arguments against the Carnegie library/money was that a Carnegie library would promote anti-labor materials. Another argument was that the poor would be funding (through taxes) a "convenience" for the rich.

How do we reconcile these accounts? Do we need to? In our writing, how will we account for competing narratives of history and intentions?

Those Census Records

OK, this is as much a heads up as anything. On page 182, Williams cites "Groff" (and the name is listed this way in the end notes, too) and his work to help validate his use of these census figures. I have to admit, I was initially a little perturbed that Williams got the name wrong. Harvey Graff is a major (MAJOR) figure in literacy studies. His book The Literacy Myth has become a current (well, 1979) foundational text in my other field of study. But ultimately, what bothers me more, is that Williams, after discussing Wisconsin Census Data, uses Graff to validate this work, stating only that Graff worked on a different period and a different area. The fact of the matter is that Graff's census data was not U.S. census data. Graff's work used Canadian census data.

So my question is, methodologically, is this a fair comparison? Can Williams validate his use of U. S. Census data for this study based on the validation of Canadian census data? How does/can this knowledge affect how we view Williams' study? Or doesn't it?

Gendered Histories

In Harris' response to Fain, he argues that garrison's project is one that works to "gain an understanding of a problem extending far beyond librarianship," one of the intersections between gender and historical narratives, while his project is to "understand library development" and to create a "philosophy of library service" (107).

Is Harris suggesting that his project somehow lies outside of gender - that it is in some way neutral? If so, I know that I question his understanding of the gendered implications (which to me seem fairly explicit) in his argument about the authoritarian, patriarchal power of early promoters of public libraries.

I know, that was more of a statement than a question, but I am interested in what y'all think about the issue.

Introduction From Kate

Hello! I am a first-year doctoral student in SLIS. I recently came from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Libraries working as a Resident Librarian. As one of two Resident Librarians I had the opportunity to work in a few areas of the University's libraries including reference, archives, cataloging, electronic licensing, and collection managment.

I have many areas of interest including children's and young adult literature - mainly graphic novels and zines, LIS education, history of libraries, special collections, print culture, and diversity issues.

I would love to be on the road to a mastery paper resulting from this course, but I'll have to wait and see how my first semester goes. Any advice to a first-year would be much appreciated!

Monday, September 05, 2005

"Bilingual Material in Libraries Draws Some Criticism" (NYT/AP)

An Associated Press article today in the New York Times illustrates the local debates playing out around the country concerning which communities should count in terms of public library service: "In some places [...] critics say taxpayer money should not be spent on a population that can include illegal immigrants or on proposals that promote languages other than English." For example, in Denver, CO:

In Denver, where the foreign-born population tripled between 1990 and 2000, largely because of Mexican immigrants, the public library system is considering reorganizing some of its branches to emphasize bilingual services and material.


Representative Tom Tancredo, Republican of Colorado, sent a public letter to Mayor John W. Hickenlooper of Denver this summer asking if the library was considering Spanish-only branches or converting to Spanish-language material at the expense of English material. Mr. Tancredo, an outspoken critic of American immigration policies, said he had been contacted by concerned librarians and patrons.

"When you have a strong cultural identity and there aren't set incentives to become American, it creates a lot of tension and divides the community," said Mr. Tancredo's spokesman, Will Adams.

Those concerns were echoed by Michael Corbin, a radio talk show host who helped organize a protest outside Denver's central library after sexually graphic content was found in some Spanish-language adult comic books, which were later removed.

Denver library officials say they are not considering Spanish-only branches in their reorganization plan but are simply trying to accommodate a city where 35 percent of residents are Hispanic.

Janet Cox, adult services supervisor at the Pueblo Library District, said: "We provide material to meet the needs of the people in the area, whether that be in English or Spanish or another language. That's important. That's what libraries do."

Hmmm ... I find it interesting how both a Republican representative and a local talk-radio personality are both mobilizing against library service to a third of the city's population. I find it interesting that reading Spanish-language material is not considered a valid part of "becoming American" when that language had permeated the continent's culture centuries earlier than 1776. And I find it interesting that there's a bait-and-switch going on somehow linking "sexually graphic content" and "comic books" with Spanish language material on order to stereotype this culture's reading interests as prurient and juvenile.

What do the rest of you think?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Something about Awa ^_^

Hi all,
My name is Xiaohua Zhu which few people here are able to pronounce, so I'm known as Awa – a name that I gave to myself randomly only to make people feel easy to call me. Before I came to the United States last year, I just got my master's degree in library science from Sun Yat-sen University, a beautiful university in South China. And before that, I got one bachelor's degree in information science and another from computer science.

Now it is my second year in LIS PhD program and the 21st year in my "school life", and I'm still wandering in the field, looking for a clear direction for future study. Technology background didn't give me the passion to create new things – although of course I'm fascinated by the digital products, instead it leads me to care more about people, as individual and as a member of a group. What are people's attitudes to technology? How can technology serve people best? Another area that attracts me most is the academic libraries and their users. Coming from a developing country, I deeply feel the importance of the academic libraries and the indifference that many people show to them.

I've been looking forward to this course for a long time, because I am sure that I'll learn a lot about American libraries from this course, which interests me very much. However, I'm not very sure whether I can contribute much because I'm from a country where there is no clear concept of "community". I look forward to meeting you all tomorrow and learning from you all.

- Awa