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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"

Thursday, September 08, 2005

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


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